by Kenneth Justice
~ Every story you tell is cloaked in mythology
—) how did you and your significant other meet
—) what are the origins of your ancestors
—) how did the company you work for invent that gadget
No matter what the story or narrative, mythology cloaks the way we humans interact and share our lives. History is a matter of perspective. We all see and experience events from different perspectives; three people can go on a journey together and have three entirely different perspectives on what happened during the journey.
This is why children raised in the same home, with the same two parents, grow up to have quite varying opinions about their parents, their childhood, their home life, and what it was like to be raised in that household. It’s why children who grow up in the same home can end up being very different from each other and have very different opinions and values. They experienced the household differently; because they saw things from different perspectives.
What is mythology? A myth is defined as “a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon”.
Thus, generally speaking, myth’s and mythology tend to deal with “more ancient origins”, but just think for a moment; the stories you tell your children about your childhood, which they then tell their children, and on and on, till eventually hundreds of years from now your stories have become historical narratives, they have become mythologized; they contain elements of truth, hyperbole, rhetoric, and cloaked with elements of vivid imagination.
Yet even now, when you and I tell a story we can’t help but tell the story from our limited perspective; we are only finite beings, and we can only share an experience based on our finite perspective. We are limited in our storytelling by the confines of our particular language. Whether you speak English, Dutch, German or Japanese, there are many constructs and thoughts that your language prevents you from expressing; only a person who is fluent in every single language that has ever existed could possibly express every single thought, and even then, only if they have possibly experienced every single thought that one can think!
When you tell a story to a five year old, you tell it differently then if you are speaking to a fifty year old. You change your words, you change your inflections, you change details to make it more palatable for the five year old.
The way you tell a story when you are 20 years old will be remarkably different then the way you tell the story thirty years later as a 50 year old; as you grow older you will use different words to tell your story (because your language grows), you will see things from different perspectives as you get older (hopefully through wisdom) and it will slightly alter the way you tell the story.
This doesn’t mean that we are making up lies and it doesn’t mean we are intentionally trying to deceive anyone; it simply means that we are imperfect beings that tell stories to the best of our ability.
Mythology is a way we communicate. Mythology is a tool that we use to give greater meaning to our lives. Some of us teach our children that god created us, others teach that there is no creator and that through the process of evolution and “chance” humanity came into existence. Still others teach teach that god invented the process of evolution to create the universe……
There are a million different mythologies and a million different perspectives on the origin of humanity and on the origin of how you met your lover; mythologies are a good thing.
Western Culture has taught us that mythologies are evil; that mythologies are fake and make- believe. Anyone who grows up in the West and hears that the story they adhere to (creationism, evolutionism, aliens, etc) is cloaked in elements of mythology, tends to get really upset. People told that mythology is apart of their human belief system get cranky and pissed off; they feel that you are attacking their very intellect.
There is no reason to get upset, it’s time to realize that growing up in Western Culture, we were sold a false bill of goods; we were taught that everything we believe is perfect and inerrant. We were taught that we have a godlike ability to perfectly recount every experience we have ever had; we were taught that all of our memories are perfect and indestructible…but sadly all of these things and more which we were taught, are simply wrong.
—) Our memories are not perfect
—) Our experience of a situation or event is entirely limited by our perspective
—) The way we tell stories is limited to our own limitations in speech, diction, perspective, and language
Mythology is a good thing. Past cultures throughout the annals of history had a better grasp on what mythology actually is and how it helps us to communicate and pass down true stories regarding our origins. Thanks to the age of reason, the enlightenment, and the technological revolution, we have been taught that we are somehow superior to past generations of humans.
We believe that because we have learned how to fly through the air or make it to the moon that we are intellectually and culturally superior than previous generations of human beings. Yet the truth of the matter is that innovation, technology and invention does not mean that we are somehow perfect; it does not mean that we have suddenly evolved in such a manner that we perceive events perfectly and speak perfectly.
We are still fallible human beings that only see in part, but perhaps one day we will see beyond the dark glass, and we shall see things more clearly.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society