Here’s another little story I wrote from a Mid-Michigan Word Gatherers prompt.
This time, there was no place to hide. “I never should have come to this planet,” I thought. A barren rock with shallow pools of water, barely adequate to support the pitiful excuse for native lifeforms. Jeremiah the bullfrog might have felt at home here, taking shelter under the low shrubs that lined the edges of the ponds, but the entire planet was devoid of any cover for an entity of my size. “No,” I reminded myself, “I should have stuck to the diet pills, instead of doing this vacation trip.”
Sure, my will power was given a vacation, because there was absolutely nothing tempting in sight, except the pools, when one became thirsty. This only happened once a week, because the humidity in the air kept the body hydrated, and the bad taste of the water naturally reduced the temptation.
“A MONTH’S VACATION FROM THE NEED TO EXERCISE WILL POWER!” the advertising announced.
“ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM!
GIVE YOUR BRAIN A REST!
LOSE UNWANTED POUNDS!”
And I paid a year’s salary for this pleasure trip?????
My son gave up pop a few years ago. My son is quite the example for exercising will power for such a young person. I had purchased some fancy pop for a special occasion, and he still would not drink it. “I made my decision and I’m not revisiting it,” or something to that effect, was his comment. “If it’s no, it’s no. It’s easier that way.” The psychological research has shown that will power is like a muscle, and like muscles, even the strongest do eventually tire and need rest. We are human and we do have limits. We can strengthen ourselves, but we never totally overcome the inherent limitations of living in a body with a large degree of pre-programmed responses.
After reading several of Rollo May‘s books from the 1950’s, explaining the difficulties inherent in developing our own true centers as unique individuals (hint: a lot of will power is required), I have started delving into Erich Fromm’s writing. “Escape from Freedom,” originally written during the lead up to World War II, explains how the Protestant Reformation, and specifically the ideas of Luther and Calvin, laid the foundations for the eventual transformation of infant Capitalism into Monopolistic Capitalism. Luther and Calvin stripped God of the loving and compassionate characteristics inherent in the Judeo-Christian tradition up to that time, to (unconsciously) reflect the nature of the social structure of the late Middle Ages, where money (specifically, “Capital”) was becoming the real god of Western humanity. Fromm lays out a detailed description of the Protestant world-view, which portrayed the only possible way to salvation being a total humiliation of the self. This led the masses of humanity, bereft of any sense of inherent dignity, to give in to the elites of the capitalist hierarchy, and become nothing more than a cog in the machine. Note the use of the word “hierarchy,” still in place today with regard to corporation structures; a sickening perversion of the original meaning of hierarchy, or “sacred order.”
Here we have a rather dramatic illustration of the law of unintended consequences…Did Luther and Calvin, who were trying to overturn the authority and abuses of the Catholic Church, and give each individual the right to have a personal relationship with God… Did these founders of Protestantism want each Christian to submit to MONEY / CAPITAL as their new god? Probably not! Yet the Protestant Reformation led to the thought field of God’s sanction of the powerful, whether or not they used the power in the interest of all of humanity.
The prophets calling the kings to account was now a moot point.
Of course no world religion keeps much of its founder’s original ideas. So at least some of the problems that arose at the birth of the Protestant Reformation have been remedied. I am now a little over half way through my second reading of Fromm’s book. I’ve always been more interested in ancient history than modern, so it has not been an easy read, even as I see Fromm laying out an extremely detailed argument for some of the ideas I present in The Convolution of Knomo Choicius as being “Self Evident Truth.” But for those interested in the intersection of psychology, sociology, politics and religion, “Escape from Freedom” is a work of genius.