My brother talked me into seeing Jurassic World. It was a lavish waste of time and money, a theme park ride to banality. Even more annoying were the trailers for summer blockbusters, most of them raucous with explosions, guns, the trademark struggle between villains and heroes.
Good vs. evil, rehashed ad nauseam. A friend summed it up perfectly after viewing Jackson’s final installment of the Hobbit trilogy. “I’m battle weary,” was his numb response.
Will human beings evolve beyond war as our defining narrative? Can we imagine a time when our species is not pitted against itself? Can we tell new stories of peace?
In my opinion: not as long as our spiritual myths describe conflict as the very nature of reality.
A Facebook acquaintance posted these words recently: The ancient battle between the Prince of Darkness and Yahweh is won one soul at a time.
Really? THIS is reality? An endless battlefield? A deadly chess match with opposing sides defined not only by “religion,” but nationalism, race, ideology, tribal and gang affiliation?
Any student of history or current events might cynically answer “Yup, that’s about right. Welcome to the nature of humanity – past, present, and for any foreseeable future.”
OK. Maybe it’s like Jesus once said: “The poor you will always have with you.” A variation: “War will always be a reality.”
I know there are times when we must defend ourselves. Meanwhile, I value new narratives, no matter how quickly scoffers dismiss them. There are powerful examples in Buddhist and Christian teachings.
In Buddhism, outward evil is no objective reality. It’s a projection of our internal struggles, our clinging to egoism and control. These self and culture-centered values are as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. They are extremely difficult to unlearn. But it’s possible. And until we let go of our false selves, we overlay our inner “demons” onto the world around us.
Christianity unmistakably describes evil as a real force, separate from our Creator. But it lifts up a radical way to overcome. It is the non-violence of Jesus on the cross, what Gandhi called satyagraha, the inner rhythm that drove Martin Luther, King Jr.’s campaigns.
One of the tragic ironies of history is Christian nations that glorify their military. How can they forget John’s feverish vision recorded in Revelation? At the end of time, what do we find on the throne? Not an eagle or lion, not a hydrogen bomb or weaponized robot. No…a slain lamb, an eternal symbol of nonviolence most Christians will never truly claim.
In Hebrew scripture, we find the longing for a new narrative in lofty words from Isaiah: They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.
Believing this would never happen, poet Robinson Jeffers wrote these lines.
I remember the farther
Future, and the last man dying
Without succession under the confident eyes of the stars.
It was only a moment’s accident,
The race that plagued us, the world resumes the old lonely immortal
Which future will we choose? I’m longing for a new narrative, a new blockbuster…