I have long been interested in the root of scape-goating, bullying, and evil itself in human behavior. Understanding humanity’s search for meaning and survival in a brutal and unpredictable world is a fascinating, and sometimes discouraging pursuit. For all of the technological progress we have made collectively, we still predictably place blame for our ills on others – usually minorities, marginalized individuals or groups and outcasts. Basically, humanity is little more spiritually advanced than our close cousins, the chimpanzees.
The difference between ourselves and our ape relatives is possibly found in our innate need to find meaning for our lives – you could call this arrogance. Why is the life of a human being more essential than that of a squirrel or beetle? Our major flaw also separating us from our animal compatriots is our desire for perfection. This means that man somehow refuses to accept the primordial aspects of life and existence: the fact that life is always unpredictable and dangerous, and that our own natures contain the same seeds of darkness, chaos, and imperfection that constitute the Universe we inhabit.
By seeking to blame others for the part of our nature that we refute, we continue to live in a never-ending dark age. It is only when humanity will begin to accept the nature of life itself and the equivalency of our own nature that we may one day access peaceful living. One cannot be evolved and “know oneself” while aspiring to a perfect life without strife and unpredictable events.
It seems paradoxical, and I fear, all truths obey this law, in saying that a peaceful world will never be achieved until we relinquish this image of a “garden of Eden”. This place is a fantasy, and we are not being punished for a sin committed by either woman or serpent. Life is as it is, and it has never been otherwise, except in our hearts and minds, as we wished individually or collectively, for protection from harm from the elements of nature, disease, or from attack by our fellow men.
What does it take for a man or a woman to cease to blame others or anything outside of oneself (divine, human, or animal) and to admit that each of us contains a shadow (as Jung proclaimed), a dark side. We are each responsible for the pain and suffering of our world, because we are life itself. We are part of the nature that strikes out at us in storms. We are the squirrels that run so haplessly in front of cars, meeting inopportune death. We are helpless before the process of life that is us. What does it take to embrace life? When can we stop trying to control a force that cannot be controlled?
It is indeed human to want to extract ourselves from this churning pit of creation and destruction, to set ourselves apart, to build a barrier between our existence and that of everything else. Ultimately, the human experience is destined to fail because it is a lie that we tell ourselves in order to bear the unbearable: the consciousness that we are frail, vulnerable beings in a tumultuous and extremely dangerous environment. And so we tell ourselves stories and weave histories of violence and destruction.
The history of art, violence, religion, and culture are deeply intertwined. In my art, I try to embrace the inner truth of life – which is the voice of nature itself speaking inside of us and through us. Our dreams are the voice of nature, and these do have meaning. We can create life and be bearers of life. As life speaks through us in tones of dark and light, we can begin to admit and understand our own nature and our own responsibility as bearers of life -with creative voice. This is the change, the shift that is needed to bring more harmony to our Earth. We need to live in harmony with life itself and accept rather than deny our own natures. Too many lives have been destroyed through the blame game – women, Jews, Christians, Muslims, the deformed, homosexuals, witches. Native Americans, Africans, Communists, goats, devils, demons, animals, even aliens… It is time to stop projecting evil and responsibility for evil onto others and accept that darkness is part and parcel of life and of our own humanity. We were never meant to be “perfect”.
If indeed we were created in the image of a God / Goddess, then that Being as well is as we are – like yin and yang, an equal blend of darkness and light, creativity and the forces of destruction.