Carry Your Cross. It's The Western Way.

October 7, 2018

 

I don't care how you see the Bible. Whether it is the word of God or not for you, it is undeniable  that it is the most priced life manual ever written and the proof of its vividness is that the greatest surviving civilization, the West, is built upon its moral teachings. The Enlightenment, the crown jewel of Occident, was fueled by the human dignity distilled from imago dei which, in turn, birthed human rights as we know them; moreover, the earliest scientists got their drive from an outspoken search for the laws of God, and the financing and support for deeper knowledge promoted by the earlier Church transferred as is into new philanthropical avenues and the public wonder surrounding scientific achievements. Furthermore, none of what we have today would have come to us without the underlying concept of sacrifice.

 

In Luke 22:42, when Jesus sees near the onset of a dreadful and mournful bloodbath, He prays:  "Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Nobody wants to suffer, right? But life is precisely about that. The very definition of a child is that of a careless, selfish, and pleasure-seeking humanoid who stumbles upon everyone's private spaces in order to achieve the immediate satisfaction of a whim. A child, whether chronological or emotional, is he or she who keeps on passing the cup of suffering to others, ad nauseam, hopeful that soon a funny mug overflowing with sweet, hot cocoa will come this way again and he merry-go-round of pleasure can go on unabashed.

 

The Christian symbolism of the cup is unavoidable in its heavy-handedness I'd say. There it is, in a cup, ready to be imbibed, a bitter cocktail of calamities which are onerous to swallow, i.e. the treason of Judas, the denial of Peter, the cruelty of priests, the insults, and then the lingering scourging crowned by the agony of crucifixion. All of the sin in one single cup, in front of Him, and, in a moment of weakness, Christ makes His two truest wishes known, i.e. one, the Human, that He really would prefer not to be beaten to a pulp and then nailed to a wooden cross, lanced while forced to drink vinegar; and, two, the Divine, that His utmost desire was to do His duty. The latter was clearly superior to the former yet, still, he had to make a choice between the easy and the hard path for the sacrifice to be legitimate. And all humans, in their everyday life, inhabit the Gethsemane of their minds.

 

Now, why is that cup overflowing with the sins of humankind? The social structure in which we live is, by definition, heaven and hell. There is no archeological trace of humans ever living monastic, lonely lives so, by definition, humans are social animals. That big brain of theirs, product of a protracted gestation period and a childhood of utter and complete dependency, make society a necessary evil. It is among others that humans find their security, reaffirmation, and the possibility of developing their full potential. However, simultaneously, that hierarchical web can become quite asphyxiating as well. It is the mix of one's and others' errors, appetites, quirks, and personalities that makes existence in society a fragile maze where, paradoxically, the individual can breathe for longer and realize his or her potential. However, with the territory comes the fact that the breathing space can reach claustrophobic levels which no other animal would tolerate. Henceforth, that cup contains the worst features of an ambivalent Being yet bestowed with a spark of divinity --whether you interpret the latter in theological or biological terms. Imago Dei would be the theological equivalent of what in the field of science is consciousness. Right: consciousness. I am talking about the self-awareness that no other animal has but the human. That little spark is, for all intents and purposes, their blessing and curse. And it is divine to the extent that consciousness (or the soul) transcend its material boundaries and its qualities are superior relative to other animals on earth.

 

Being the only animal that is aware of his inevitable demise imbues the human consciousness with rich and varied layers of meaning.  And the mechanics of meaning, in turn, are multilayered. In order to gain purpose and, thus, control over himself as species, the human looks back, looks forward, asks questions, and grows into the creation of mental tools geared towards advancing despite knowing how it all will end. Throughout that process of building models and theories, humans beef up their cosmogony and how to function within it. Ironically, it is the limitations of such a powerful animal that gift it with both humanity and divinity. Only humans can choose between good and evil. And, in doing so, they regress into animals or climb to a greatness where the ceiling is death. The West was built on a profound but also actionable understanding of that. While its children searched, created, colonized, and transformed radically the fabric of everyday existence, the only resource the Western men and women had to live forever was to plant themselves in tradition for future generations to drink of the same fountain. That is prime reason why, unconsciously, the enemies of the West are so hellbent on destroying statues or subverting traditions. A civilization without its memories and deprived of its moral manual is lost, condemned to submerge, like an Atlantis floating in the minds of many, into the depths of forgetfulness.

 

The figure of Christ, thus, reminds you, then, that there is only one true sacrifice: to surpass the territory of passions, kneecap the lizard brain, and do one's duty. Now, one's duty is multilayered. To be a duty, one single act must encompass a plethora of objectives, i.e. embody the moral orientation that naturally comes to the human while, simultaneously, echoing in a space constructed for way beyond the here and now. If one lives for the dead, the living, and the unborn, while doing what is right, that is the apex of securing a better future even at the expense of one's existence.

 

So, there you go. With or without fries, the burger is as described.

 

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