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Posts Tagged ‘dragons’

Page 2 to go into my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project.  My assigned topic:  How to Save the World.

 

sketchbook Project #2.0-1

A little background about the symbolism on this page: 

The symbolism here is tied to the religious paradigm of the mythical hero off to slay evil demons out in the wilderness so as to protect kith and kin. 

This paradigm was articulated by Mircea Eliade (1907-1986), a native of Romania, who was “a well-known historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigms in religious studies that persist to this day. His theory that hierophanies form the basis of religion, splitting the human experience of reality into sacred and profane space and time, has proved influential.[1] 

“Eliade argues that religious thought in general rests on a sharp distinction between the Sacred and the profane;[83] whether it takes the form of God, gods, or mythical Ancestors, the Sacred contains all "reality", or value, and other things acquire "reality" only to the extent that they participate in the sacred.[84] suggests that in traditional societies, people tended to view the world as being one of opposing realms, of the known world, and the unknown world.  The known world was “the realm of established order; and beyond the known world is a chaotic and dangerous realm, "peopled by ghosts, demons, [and] ‘foreigners’ (who are [identified with] demons and the souls of the dead).[116] ….According to Eliade, traditional societies place their known world at the Center because (from their perspective) their known world is the realm that obeys a recognizable order, and it therefore must be the realm in which the Sacred manifests itself; the regions beyond the known world, which seem strange and foreign, must lie far from the Center, outside the order established by the Sacred.”  Full Wikipedia Article on Eliade’s life and work

Eliade’ argued passionately for the universality of these paradigms, probably the most controversial aspect of his work to others.  But I would argue that one doesn’t have to look very hard at contemporary cultures, to at least see the pervasiveness of the paradigm of the mythical hero as a recurrent theme today across most cultural groups, in religious stories, as well as popular drama and other entertainment.  It continues to be held up as a value throughout enculturation processes in some form.  The details may vary, but it is a powerful motivator to act, even today. Though the paradigm has its roots in traditional societies, it clearly persists in modern culture and shapes values on a primal level.   

It is a romantic notion that lies at the heart of the decisions of world leaders to take up arms, though how those leaders have formed their perception of who is included in the sacred or in the profane derives from how they, as individuals, have come to see who is “in” and who is “out”.  Whether you are looking at individuals who take extreme measures to strike through hostage taking, genocide, and mass murder, or the knight who fights on his home soil to defend against invaders, all can be seen to be acting on a sorting process.  This process of sorting the universe of being “one/part of us” or “in” and being “not part of us” or “out” begins in early social development.  How we learn to sort and how we act on that sorting is shaped by how we our personal biases are formed.  It is how we judge the behavior of others. 

If we view and judge others around us as being the profane, “outsiders”, “others”, we make them “dragons” in our minds, or the “chaos monster”, as Eliade would describe them.  We believe that it is a hero’s duty to slay dragons that threaten us.  The problem here, is that they are probably not dragons at all, and the facts are likely not that we are good and they are evil and must be defeated.  In fact, they may just be afraid of us, as we are of them, and by our perceptions and acting through fear, we cannot build empathy or understanding.  What is required to avoid the outcome that we are afraid of, is learn to see one another without judgment, to foster trust and acceptance through mutual respect of our common humanity and unique qualities.

When we are looking over at someone that we are perceiving as a “dragon”, we should question our perception, and the assumptions that form that perception.  We should investigate before we behave with prejudice toward another, and try our best to understand them, to see them as they are, not just as we “fear” they might be.  We should set aside our fear and loathing for what is unfamiliar and try to build empathy with others, not try to force them to be “us”, or to force us to be “them”, but to appreciate the differences and how the uncomfortable feelings arose, and then find the common ground to address respective concerns.   We can’t control what other people do, but we can do our part to attempt to bridge the gap.  This is how we can each be a “hero”, and save the world.

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