Continuing through this three part series exploring the so called ‘great questions,’ we took a brief look at who we are. Another of the great questions is “why are we here?” This is a very broad question. The phrasing of the question itself is magnificent in scope. I generally contemplate on three aspects of this question. The first regards my purpose, “why am I here.” My observations have made the answer to this question very simple to define: to learn. It’s what I do, unconsciously and voraciously.
The other two aspects of “why am I here” which I meditate on lend themselves more to outside observations. I look to the great teachers for guidance. Because I live in the south central U.S. and have always been steeped in western religion, I sometimes turn to the bible for guidance, in addition to the other great books. In this entry, I will look at subspecies of the question “why am I here?” related to our interactions with others and our interaction with our environment.
I am going to start by going back to the 82nd Psalm, because it has a lot more to say:
Psalm 82 King James Version (KJV)
82 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
Let those who have eyes, see and those who have ears, hear: you are the sons and daughters of creation. You are gods; now behave like it. This Psalm is a guide that tells you what you must do; why you are here. It’s not the first time this directive is handed down in this book. It is definitely not the last. Take care of those less fortunate. Turn away from the wicked, the corrupt, and the greedy. Be a light to the world through the good that you do; lead by example. You WILL die, but you will also return to the source from which you sprang, without the weight of our ridiculous skin suits. Judge the earth…wait. Let’s go back to where the Psalm says “do justice to the afflicted and needy” in verse three. Defending the poor and fatherless is doing justice to the afflicted and needy. That sounds a lot like the teachings of Yeshua! And yet here it is in the time of David. Love the lord, your God/dess and love your neighbor as yourself.
I think this Psalm is so moving to me because it is a beautiful reminder that you are divine and that you have a much larger duty than just looking after your own selfish wants and whims. How large is that duty? Try ‘the whole world’.
Sure, roll your eyes, and yawn, but if you’re going to swallow some of it you’ve got to swallow it all. Go and ask a fundamentalist minister what the bible says about environmentalism. They will likely quote you a verse or three from Genesis about man having dominion over the earth, before humanity took up the mantle of divinity by eating from the tree. This is a very shallow reading of the scripture though. In fact, Genesis 1:28 does NOT give us free reign to destroy the earth as we see fit. Quite the opposite is true. If we continue on, past the parts where the divine is busy being satisfied with the beauty and perfection of his creation, to Genesis 2:15, we see that he specifically instructs humanity to cultivate and take care of the perfect paradise that is earth.
Revelation 11:18 says very plainly that, in the end, those who destroy the earth shall be destroyed. Ecclesiastes 3:19 even goes so far as to say, “yea, they all have one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.” In this light it is very clear that the role of consumer we wear so readily, and which is assigned to us as a matter of dogma, is wrong. We should not be consumers, we should be producers. We should not be as swine, devouring and destroying the pearls cast before us; we should be god/desses of creation, of preservation or protection. We should strive to be at harmony with ourselves so that it will be reflected in our world. And be nice.
This doesn’t seem like a truly difficult undertaking, and our stewardship thus far illustrates how undeserving of paradise we have been thus far. I liken humanity, in its current state, to pampered teenagers who have not yet learned to respect themselves or others. If your parents went away on a trip to Europe and left you alone in the house with plenty of food in the pantry, with specific instructions to behave and take care of the house, what would happen if you trashed the house while they were gone? What would mom and dad say if you pulled the wiring out of the walls to sell it for scrap, dug up the yard and cut down shade trees, started a methlab in the bathroom, dumped trash in the pool, punched holes in the ceiling, and put the house up for sale? Would they be happy when they got back to what was left of their home? How would they react to you, the caretaker of all they had worked to build for you?
Truthfully, we did not do all of this. What we see today, in terms of mass extinctions, shifting climates, and boundless pollution, is centuries in the making. We have been guided by western culture to see ourselves as the only truly important creatures in the world, the only creatures worth saving or protecting; everything else is a resource for food or wealth accrual. This flies directly in the face of the imperative to act as caretakers. Truth be told, the undertaking is not an easy one, but one that we can achieve together. The best way to start is to go out and find ways to make your world a better place. Do you go to the park or a favorite waterway? Take a few plastic bags and fill them with the trash scattered about the area. A lot can be said for going out into the world and cleaning up a little mess as part of the restoration process of our world.
The second way is to stop giving your money to big corporations that not only don’t respect the environment, but don’t respect humans as anything beyond a means to make profit. It is a sad truth that in the modern world, people are regarded only as human capital, resources to be used and discarded when they have lost their value. This is in direct opposition to the directive to act as caretakers of creation. To be true stewards we must care for all things equally, whether we find these things useful or not. Corporations do not do this. If you are going to give your money to someone, give it to a struggling farmer, not some corporation like Monsanto.
Finally, humanity, and Americans especially, must quit being wasteful. Modern society produces more waste per person that at any other time in history and Americans are far and away the worst. We are conditioned to buy, buy, buy, and consume, consume, consume. We buy so much that we cannot use it all and end up throwing a good share of our purchases away. Why should your throw your hard earned money away and into the pockets of greedy corporations when you can simply buy less and keep your hard earned money? One of the easiest ways to cut back on waste is to make a list before you go to the store and buy only what is on the list. Also, buy only what you can reasonably use in a period of two or three days. When you buy a ten pound bag of potatoes, do you use it all, or do you throw some away every month?
Be mindful of who you are and why you are here. Ye are gods who are here to protect the earth and to learn what it is to be. Do not be forced into a role of servitude like livestock, but stand up and defend your home from those who would see it lain to waste in the name of profit. You are divine beings, not coins in the purses of the Koch brothers and their ilk, to be spent as they see fit. They have no power over you that you do not give them. So mote it be!