At the age of 70, I’ve begun to think that it’s time to think about origin myths. At first this seemed like it was going to be an exercise in religious study, but gradually I began to believe that origin myths are for us more secularly oriented persons.
I like these three contemporary myths from which spring distinctly different “innate truths” and therefore different “origin” myths. These three have emerged during my lifetime.
Myth 1: The myth of unlimited prosperity. After WWII we all got behind this one and even invented something called a consumer economy. Oh dear.
Myth 2: The myth of unlimited freedom. In which many of us decided that we were completely free from responsibility. Oh my.
Myth3: The myth of unlimited possibility (or choice) out of which the age of the Internet has emerged. Oh crap.
But before then, in the nineteenth century, we had the Myth of unlimited space which provided us with Tom Mix and Gene Autry, and other mythic figures along with prefab deer blinds and designer pickup trucks. After that we had the Myth of unlimited power in which Democracy was supposed to expand through the League of Nations and create an earthly paradise. Hello, the Great Depression.
Of course, there is something religious about the associated origin myths. They are extremely hard to criticize. Whenever the innate truth is quoted, one has an absolute origin. As a post quantum mechanical physicist, I always wondered about the semi religious fervor of the next decimal place which ran rampant through the early twentieth century. If only they could have wielded the sword of the microprocessor!
Now, when fuzzy logic if firmly entrenched and the mass particle is almost within the grasp of the new accelerator in Switzerland, we have the emergence of yet a new origin myth. This one’s been coming a long time. The Myth of Absolute Certainty which is supposed to wipe our collective bottoms and deliver us back to a simpler time when we knew the separate roles of God and man. Help! This one is going to lead us to the abyss and then urge us to jump over the edge into utter darkness.
I’m going to mount speakers on a big truck. Help stamp out Certainty. Uncertainty is OKAY. We CAN’T know everything. Stop trying to put a number to everything. Stop rating compassion like it was priced at the Supermarket. Tomorrow’s truth will be different…now that’s a kind of certainty that supports reality. Better examin your favorite origin myth.
Think about this analogies. Innate is to origin as pattern is to template.