When we try to understand our history, we are usually presented with a narrative about a relatively small group of people: kings, emperors, churchmen, explorers, politicians etc. The impression is that they made our world as it is today. We should be grateful to them for organizing and directing our affairs.
Nonsense! Rubbish! Our world has been designed and shaped by all of us - anonymous people working together to solve problems, helping each other during difficult times. Since we first stood upright and looked to the stars we have needed each other. We could not have killed a hairy mammoth alone, nor staved off a hungry saber-tooth tiger by ourselves.
Together we created families, then extended groups and hamlets. Communities of all shapes and size were been built by regular, ordinary people. Together we created villages, and roads to join them, bridges to cross obstacles and carts to carry things in. Together we trapped animals, planted fields and brought in the harvest.
But that is not what we are taught. We are taught about the special, elite people - they are the ones who have shaped our lives.
For example, an English child might learn about William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest. If the child is inquisitive, he or she might discover Norman achievements such as Durham Cathedral, with it's extraordinary Ribbed Vault. How lucky we are to have such an impressive heritage.
But ... who designed that style of vault? Where did they experiment? Who helped? Who actually built this Cathedral which has dominated the surrounding countryside for nearly 1000 years? I do not believe that William put either pen to architectural paper or mortar to brick. Nor did the first Bishop of Durham. Yet whoever designed and built this imposing structure has had a real affect on hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people down through the last millenium.
No, the world we have built is largely a product of us working together. For the most part the small groups that have attained power over the majority have achieved their status by ruthless violence. Although Mrs Betty Windsor (Queen Elizabeth II) may look like an ordinary eighty year old grannie, she is not. When Durham Cathedral was built around 1093, Betty's ancestors had already been going for over 100 years. When you have held power for a thousand years, you don't need to wield it ostentatiously. But you do wield it.
These small, elite cliques are rather like a virus attached to a host. They feed off the good nature of humanity - taking taxes and tithes - using cunning and distraction to redirect attention away from themselves. They have become like a malformed sub-species - a psychopathically modified organism - feeding off the full spectrum of human being. Sucking out dreams, spirit, authority, money, intellect, social contact and even blood, from an increasingly drugged, sick and acquiescent population.
And yet. And yet, it is possible that we are developing an immunity to the psychic plague that these emotionally crippled people represent for mankind. In order to give up a dependency, like smoking, it is necessary for the whole person to enact a willful decision. It needs to be an integrated response. As you let go of something that has always been there, that you have perhaps used to deal with the horrid parts of life - you step into a new world. A world that you need to create afresh, with different rules and understandings. Being in that world is different from looking at it from the outside.
As it is for an individual, so it is for a community of individuals. To leave behind their addiction to the dominating controls of an elite few is difficult. It will take an act of collective, integrated will. It will not be achieved without positive communication - the glue that holds us together and keeps us strong. Stepping into a world no longer dominated by our present 'lords and masters' - the hierarchy of authorities found everywhere from kindergarten to the office, to the old folks home - will appear frightening. But that is just an example of Stockholm Syndrome - attachment of the victim to the aggressor.
We need to move from a centralized command and control culture to a decentralized world of autonomous communities. As we make the transition we will realize that that is how we got here, it feels natural. And we need not be afraid, we will lose nothing of real value. Perhaps there will be less waste and consumerism. But we still have our imaginations and creativity. When we no longer need to feed the psychopathic organisms amongst us, a great deal of energy will be released for more useful purposes.
If we look around at our world today in search of lasting majesty rather than fleeting pleasures, it is hard to find anything on the scale of Durham Cathedral or Notre Dame de Paris. But, if we could create such awesome buildings a thousand years ago - how much more beautiful could we make our world today - what with all the progress we have made in design, materials and technology?
What wonders and delights might we bring into being for the inspiration of our children and their descendents?
What is there to stop us from putting all our energy into transforming our world?
Other than habits of obedience, that we have outgrown and no longer need.
Posted by Nicholas Moore 5:08:29 AM