Friday, April 12, 2013

Stories We Tell Ourselves

I usually check Facebook first thing in the morning. The theme today was pretty religious.

People were asking for prayers. People were quoting bible verses and discussing the deeper aspects of being a believer. My first feeling when seeing Christians putting a public and philosophical spin on their personal psychodrama is condescension. I'm not proud of it, but that's the case. I don't feel any condescension towards people who ask for prayers for urgent situations, because I understand the feeling of free-fall. I understand and respect the humility it takes to ask for help, in whatever way you know how.

My second thought was about how romantic it was to believe that there were powers and principalities conspiring against me, and against mankind. My soul was a prime target in a holy land war, and I was, in my small way, very important. It's flattering to believe that there is a demonic plan to damn you to hell. It's flattering to think that someone--especially someone so powerful--thinks about you that much. It's also reassuring, and flattering, to believe that the almighty God has a special plan for you, and that he is equally interested in your soul, and the fate of mankind in general.

Then I started thinking about the political stories we tell ourselves. There are some grand political dramas being played out in the lives of individuals all over the world, at least in their minds. I am not exempt: not long after I realized that religion provided me with an important purpose-narrative, I began to study and appreciate humanistic Marxism, and its sweeping narrative of the ebb and flow of history, and the obtainable victory of societal self actualization and freedom from all kinds of insidious slavery. Coincidence? Maybe not so much.

We tell ourselves all of these stories. They give our lives a grand scope. How true are the stories we tell ourselves? We can't all be right. We certainly can't all be right all the way across the board, however we might like to be.

I wonder how close to the actual fact of the matter we can allow ourselves to get and still live a meaningful life. I wonder who came closest? Is there an ideology out there that strips away enough of the fiction--however beautiful and invigorating--and still manages to preserve a certain amount of majesty?

I don't know. It's pretty early in the morning.

No comments: