Wednesday, April 23, 2008

(20) Kinship

"More significant was the emphasis the Stoics placed on the
essential kinship of all men through their participation in divine
reason, or logos. They spoke of a universal society, a kind of
brotherhood of mankind, transcending the state. They refused
to attach any significance to noble birth and showed concern
about the position of the slave."
[Encyclopedia Americana, "Stoicism," p. 735.]

Comment: The above quote represents an on-going idealism
that has followed us down through the ages. This "kinship" is
like a dream that won't go away, no matter how we decry such
a possibility through our actions.

Unfortunately "positions of power," usually no longer attached
to nobility (whether inherited or instilled), still rule our world.
As for "slaves," maybe no longer chattel or serfs, there still
remain far too many enslaved peoples--whether to dictators,
to religious authorities, to unfair economic systems. Also,
enslavement is made possible through ignorance that--in turn--
is propagated by a lack of education or at least a lack of
information. These days much of the flow of information we
receive can be manipulated by those in a position of power,
employed for their own purpose.

Sounds negative, but that wonderful dream of kinship still dwells
in quiet corners. The question is about the "how" of it. How can
we humans ever reach a stage of development wherein this
kinship can ever hope to become a reality?

The Stoics talked of "divine reason," the Logos, as the path to
such a kinship. Their teachers talked of the "City of Zeus," which
indeed transcended governments, states, nations. This grand
City was cosmic, universal in nature. Even the Christians took
up the banner, talking about the "City of God." Alas, even after
such undertakings as the League of Nations and, later, the
United Nations, we are splintered. Why?

If I had any precise, correct answers, well I would be a sage. I'm
not, however. I can only guess that our connection with "God"
isn't all that tight. We have even splintered God. Indeed it is a
long on-going habit. The ancients had their pantheon of gods,
and we moderns have our ever splitting denominations! And
too many of us declare that we *know* what God thinks and does.
This kind of mindset always makes trouble for the rest of us who
aren't sure.

As for "divine reason," well some religious traditions do inject
Reason into their repositories as somewhat of a necessity when
it comes to an understanding of God. Just as much, alas, some
religious groups seem to forgo Reason altogether. We are a far
cry from the ideal kinship the Stoics stressed.

How can we even begin to approach such a possibility nowadays?
Maybe scientific discoveries might begin to point the way. The
Human Genome project tackled our human DNA. Beyond this,
we have come to understand that no matter Religion, Color, Gender,
Nationality, or any other kind of separation can deny that we humans
share a common DNA. Gads! We even have discovered that our
common DNA doesn't differ much from our cousin, the Chimp.
This discovery--disturbing, surely, for some--links us with the
Natural World. Hateful a discovery it might be, there it is!

Our DNA declares our human kinship. It's universal. Our DNA even
connects us with other species, linking us to that natural Web of
Relationship that is declared by both scientists and philosophers of
"Deep Ecology." Perhaps we need attend "divine reason" from far
different perspectives as we come more informed. If we look at
Creation and all the discoveries we are making therein, we just
might get a glimpse of "divine reason" long at work, seeing how
we are all strung together under its aegis.

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