I read several posts today attacking authors’ fictional works that make me wonder what the world will be like in the future. The tunnel of acceptability is becoming so narrow that soon most fairy tales will be banned from the shelves. Authors will not be allowed to write directly about or allude to societal issues/beliefs. There will be no such thing as a metaphor for internal chaos. Instead, the literal, superficial words will be all that matter. No symbolism depicting the human condition.
How will we tell stories? Stories are not just entertainment. Stories are messengers. Stories are often meant to lead us to a more human and empathetic conversation about issues that are often difficult to address directly. They wend their way through the cracks in the rigid walls we have constructed within ourselves. These walls can be extreme in either direction. There are zealots on both sides, and both are impotent in terms of understanding.
Humans have this tendency toward “all or nothing,” and it is this attitude that deflects all attempts at compromise. It causes us to fail to resolve the very issues for which we believe ourselves champions. Freedom is not about stifling those who would try to stir up questions in our minds by slipping through the cracks in our walls.
The human condition will never be pristine. Can it be improved? Absolutely! But, not through the zealots or the book banners or the uninformed or the manipulators. Ethan Smith stated these types of people are “characterized by how they respond to information.” He contends there are four archetypes: idiots, zealots, elitists, and patriots.
Before we quickly label ourselves as Patriots, let’s look at the way in which these are defined by Smith:
The bottom line is we need to try and understand that we have long since moved beyond fighting for our collective freedoms. We have narrowed our boundaries to include only what is acceptable to us and fight to make others comply. Freedom doesn’t simply rest on basic principles of not harming others or the planet. We have tightened the reins on every aspect of life – social, family, health, work, spirituality, personal growth, financial, communities. This is unacceptable because we are not all identical. We don’t have the same challenges or the same imaginations or the same dreams, to name just a few differences.
So, how do we deal with our states of mind?
The symbolism of the four wise monkeys is familiar to most of us: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, do no evil. In recent times I have seen the fourth monkey’s symbolism shift from simply ‘do no evil’ to fear no evil. This is how we can rise above the archetypes of idiot, zealot, and elitist. Rather than simply not hearing, seeing, speaking, and doing no evil, we must ultimately FEAR no evil. It is our fear that stands in the way of our freedoms. It is our fear that makes us react with rage or violence or simply internal chaos.
My husband used symbolism to write about fear. One of my favorite talks was titled: Dracula is Alive and Well in Your Life. He spoke about how we have attitudes and emotions that seem difficult to grab hold of because they are never the same from one time to the next and yet they seem to have power over us. They feed off of us, dragging us deeper and deeper into the darkness of negativity. The circumstances, the issues, are not always the same, but the underlying force is fear.
Only when we get up close and personal to our fear and symbolically drive a stake through its heart, as the story of Dracula reveals, can we rid ourselves of it. Our hearts are the seat of our emotions, our feelings, and this is where fear lives.
Returning to symbolism, the professor in the story of Dracula represents the part of us pursuing the vampire, the fear, and knows its weaknesses. What does this mean? It means that we must recognize the feeling of fear as a borrowed attitude. It is not you! It is not me! Then we have taken a step toward consciously choosing to take actions not motivated by fear. Choose, instead, to educate yourself and share it with others in order that all may progress. Become a true patriot —of the nation, of the world, but most of all, of yourself!