We are discussing what it means to be human. To be human is to recognize that we are part of a world that we did not make—one that is greater than us and has been around far longer than us. We call this awareness of our origins and time and space, cosmology.
Cosmology and its offspring, Ecology, constitute another “C” of the “Ten C’s” that lead us to our deeper humanity. When we recover a sense of the whole, that is cosmology, meaning returns. Where cosmology is missing, meaning is missing, and we manufacture many idols to fill the vacuum.
Ernest Becker speaks to meaninglessness:
…the problem of meaninglessness in modern life….is not a problem of absolute meaninglessness, but of relative meaninglessness—of constriction, narrowness, limited scope and horizon; of a world-view that calls upon energies that are too shallow, too facile, too inverted to a humdrum daily quest. Modern man’s meaninglessness is a problem of what to do with life, what to do with it beyond simply living it out in a completely fetishized way.
The problem is a failure to look deeply. Niko Kazantzakis confessed that he did not find meaning
...until he found that his work and life were grounded in the deepest purposes of creation….What can happiness mean for man [and woman], except to realize that life is a gift, and not a burden?
Cosmos gives us context, it stretches our hearts and souls, our consciousness therefore.
This is why modern man whines so pitifully with the burden of life—he has nothing ultimate to dedicate it to; nothing infinite to assume responsibility for; nothing self-transcending to be truly courageous about. He has only himself, his dazzling and diverting little consumer objects; his few closely huddled love ones; his life-span; his life-insurance; his place in a merely biological and financial chain of things.
I agree that the modern mentality is a “whining” mentality. The professional world is full of prima donnas who expect life to serve them and not them serve life. Patriarchy generates whiners.
I find academicians who love to think of themselves as “postmodern deconstructionists” but who take absolutely no effort to reconstruct. Such persons raise the noise of cynicism to a whole new art. Like children, they can take things apart but they cannot put anything together.
I find many young people who can and desire to move far beyond whining. They want joy and justice and great dreams that make justice happen.
They want a bigger canvas on which to live life more fully. And that bigger canvas is the universe itself.
The modern age gave us knowledge about many things. But it did not give us meaning. Meaning derives from wisdom more than knowledge. And wisdom is aroused by awe and wonder, which Rabbi Heschel defines as “the mind confronting the universe.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, pp. 24-26.
Banner Image: “Gov Brown Be A Climate Hero – people from across the state of Oregon mobilized in Eugene to call on the governor to take concrete action to halt the proposed LNG pipeline and export facility in Jordan Cove.” Photo by Backbone Campaign on Flickr.
Do you agree that a sense of “whining” is in the air far too often in our culture? Do you agree that a sense of the whole, of the story of the universe to which we belong, can dispel such whining and energize us to problem solving and larger visions for what it means to be—and act—as humans?
The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human
The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
“An awe-based vision of educational renewal.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.