I actually said that recently. During a job interview, as a matter of fact.
I tend to like order. Not to the extreme of stifling creativity or preventing spontaneity, but, overall, I like to have things organized.
I’m not sure that I’m really truly a control freak or anything. I can go with the flow with the best of them. I’ve been known to drop everything and take chances/switch plans/directions at the drop of a hat- proverbial or otherwise (hats HAVE been left behind on occasion).
Before anyone starts thinking that I’m perhaps protesting too much, let me just say that I am well aware that my Virgo-Nature (as one of my BFFs- and fellow-Virgo- terms this propensity) sometimes gets the best of me. I’m eminently self-aware about that little character trait.
I think it’s why, actually, I tend to gravitate to the mythologies of the Ancient Near East and Egypt. The belief systems that came before and heavily influenced the beliefs and the worldview that would be recorded in the bible- those Testaments Old, New and extra-canonical- were based in the foundational dichotomy of the need for maintenance of order to stave off the constant incursions of chaos in the known world.
The myths- and the societies that developed according to the worldviews contained therein- saw the primeval forces of the universe as sourced in chaos. In Mesopotamia this tradition was found in the stories of Tiamat – Mother-goddess of Chaos and origin of the world as we know it. As in the world was created out of her defeated carcass. Still, such was her power that even after Marduk’s victory her influence continued to be felt since we- and the planet we rode in on- were carved out of her physical remains.
We like chaos. Or, at the very least, seem to gravitate toward drama and the exaggerated over-turning of societal norms. Those same societal norms that were instituted in things like the Code of Hammurabi, those Ten Commandments, or the more numerous and somewhat onerous Levitical Laws. They all served the same purpose.
Order vs. chaos.
The maintenance of the balance of the two. Not the eradication of chaos- that would mean self-destruction, after all, coming as we did from the body of chaos herself- but the careful manipulation of behaviours so that order can keep it in check.
If the rules aren’t followed, the influence of Tiamat comes creeping back in to mess with the nicely ordered society that the gods- and the kings/priests/leaders who act on behalf of the gods- have created. For our own protection, of course. But also for the greater glory of those who hold the earthly power.
I get this- atavistically, and also because it suits my personality. We need rules- be they rules of morality or practicality. We also need to understand that rules are contextual in nature. They are based on specific needs and sourced in specific times/places and, as such, should be subject to change as our context does so.
Somewhere along the line, the order/chaos dichotomy got changed into one of good/evil. I’d argue that came about under strong influences from Zoroastrianism and its dualism, but that’s a discussion for a different day.
Bottom line (I’m trying to be succinct, for a change)? Those things associated with order became the rules that described what is good. Acting outside those rules became all about the evil.
Example? That little story about the Garden of Eden and getting kicked out and that whole, much later, Augustinian nonsense about Original Sin? Yahweh gave them one rule- ‘don’t eat from that tree. The one over there. All others are fair game, but leave that one be.’ (Obviously I’m paraphrasing here). And what did they do? They violated the prescribed order/rule and ate from that tree.
It’s called a ‘cautionary tale’ for a reason.
Right from the get-go we were being influenced by that crafty Tiamat (or her minions, who were myriad and took the forms of demons, ill-winds and, sometimes, serpents) to break the rules and let her get a little of her own back.
That’s an image of her up there ^^^. It’s also the image that appears on my homepage underneath the name of the blog. I believe in facing my fears head-on (I’m really not kidding. One of my cats is named for the embodiment of chaos herself. I was thinking along the lines of ‘naming something robs it of its power’. Didn’t quite work out that way. My Tiamat is pretty chaotic. I blame myself for the misstep). Please note that she looks like a great big snake, herself.
‘What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.’
My buddy- and fave OT dude- wrote that in Ecclesiastes (1.9).
Yep. We are nothing if not a lather, rinse, repeat sort of a species. We beg, borrow and often steal the stuff that came before us and apply it- generally willy-nilly- to our own social contexts. Does that really sound like a remotely rational plan?
Despite my deep-seated appreciation of order, the need to examine from whence our conceptualizations of that order might have come is the very thing I’ve been (over-) emphasizing of late. We are letting our leaders tell us what we should be watching/buying/doing and how we should be thinking/voting/spending our spare time. Without any sort of examination or thought given to the context from which these prescriptions are coming.
Since we aren’t (last I checked), in fact, a Bronze Age culture trying desperately to assert our National identity among hostile ‘foreigners’ (whose land we’ve come to take) and therefore beholden to any notion of having our actions dictated as we are expected to blindly follow someone’s notion of what is ‘best’ for us, we really have to be looking more closely at these things.
We have so much opportunity and access to information that we HAVE TO make our decisions based in this cultural/social context rather than one that had its day more than 2000 years ago, half a world away.
That doesn’t mean that some of the rules- and the lessons contained within the rules and the stories that support them- mightn’t reflect universal truths and maintain some validity. I’m not saying that at all.
Take the time to weigh all sides/voices/contexts and see that we have, in fact, progressed from the city states/nomadic/monarchic civilizations that came so very long before us. We have evolved. In every conceivable way. And the devolution of society that seems to be happening here and there is beyond distressing in the face of this reality.
We need a paradigm shift. Bigtime. Let’s forget about the whole externalizing/personification of evil/assumption of the existence of absolute good that we’ve inherited from later iterations of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian worldviews. Time to let go of childish things- like devils and demons and primordial gods (although not the cats who bear their names) and take responsibility for our role in the balancing act that is life in the 21st century.
The maintenance of order is important. It balances the chaos- of our own natures and of those things IN Nature over which we can exert no control.
I’m always looking for some order- and some New Order never goes amiss either…
‘I like walking in the park
When it gets late at night
I move round in the dark
And leave when it gets light
I sit around by day
Tied up in chains so tight
These crazy words of mine
So wrong they could be right’
And, unlike evil– and the way in which we tend to pass the buck by labeling and externalizing actions/people as such- chaos will always remain a part of the world and its perpetual motion.
There are things beyond our human control. Yep. There are indeed. But the way we react to these incursions of chaos in our lives is completely in OUR HANDS.
I know he’s right.
There’s been enough chaos lately. We need some great changes right about now. But they aren’t going to happen all by themselves.
PS- So much for being succinct…
In case you were wondering… the interviewers seemed to both be pretty tickled by my comment regarding chaos. So much so they offered me the job. All being well, it’ll be onward to new challenges and a new venue- one that has a mandate for positive change and proactive involvement. HUGE thanks to you all hereabouts for the support offered as this first realized step in my journey- more meaningful action in my day job. Here’s hoping it will allow for the continuation of meaningful engagement in all aspects of my life. If nothing else, it will help me, personally, to balance that foundational dichotomy as best as I can.