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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
What the Mythologies Can Teach Us
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We live in an odd society. Except for the time when the Christian church was gaining political power all over the world, there has never been such a strong push to get us to give up. We are told to give up on ourselves by swallowing some little blue pill because we are depressed. We are bombarded with images of people living extreme and expensive lifestyles, which most of us will never be able to afford. Society tries to make us feel guilty for not having more than we need, or the most expensive this or that.
If we cannot do those things society says are important for social and financial success, we are told to give up and move on to something else that will give us that social and financial success. We are diagnosed as ‘depressed’ by some doctor who has roughly 15-minutes to learn our whole life’s story. If we haven’t lived up to society’s expectations, then we must be depressed because what other reason is there to be so lazy, and be such an underachiever? Then the doctor takes at least half the fee in order to cover his malpractice insurance costs and sends us on our way with a prescription that few people in the world truly need.
I do realize that some people have legitimate issues and chemical imbalances, but on the whole, I think, doctors and drug companies have made pleasant sheeple out people who were not truly depressed, just bored, lacking any type of faith at all, and not paying enough attention to know the difference.
This is where mythology comes in; to teach us faith in ourselves and in others, to show us right from wrong, and to show us what we ourselves may be capable of performing. What heroic act of any of the gods could have been performed if this individual or that had no faith in themselves and the people they serve (d) ? Could Odin have transcended death on Yggdrasil for nine days and nights, learned of the runes from Bolthorn, sacrificed his eye in the well of Mimir to help humans? Not without knowing he would do it or die trying.
Could CuChulain have accomplished becoming the Hound of Ulster without the surety that he knew he was doing the right thing? No. Neither of these could possibly have happened without both heroes knowing themselves and their capabilities and being certain of doing the right thing as their own culture dictated.
Today’s society places little emphasis on the types of learning boys and girls would have been taught. Today, if a girl knows how to dance, flirt, cook, run a household, and teach her children those things her culture deems important, she probably learned it from MTV, or at school. The problem here is that our fictional girl does not learn to take care of herself properly or what is ‘normal behavior’ in our society. She learns that it is OK to become a teenaged parent with no money, no prospects, and no one but herself to take the awesome responsibility of raising a family. She learns that proper discipline of the children is frowned upon in our society because our strange culture never wants any harm to injure a child’s ego.
She learns to cook only when she learns that McDonald’s doesn’t take food stamps, and she can’t live off relatives and friends forever. Then she learns that if she just keeps having babies, she’ll never have to worry about food or rent, because the nanny-state government that seems to have such a hold on society will take care of her needs. No matter what else she learned, or where she learned it, personal responsibility just wasn’t there to be learned, because personal responsibility does not make good entertainment.
A young man is no longer taught to be decent to women, but is taught instead that women are only “bitches” or ‘ho’s, to be used when he has an itch to scratch. He is not taught to keep the items and affairs of his household in good working order. He is taught to throw away the lawnmower when it breaks, go get a new one, and that it is acceptable to go into debt purchasing the best, most expensive robotic mower when a simple motorless rotary mower will do just fine. He is not taught to hunt or fish; he is not even taught to carve meat that has already been cooked.
If he learns to use a weapon, too many times, he learns in the street, without even benefit of learning the proper techniques for caring for and using a gun. Instead, he learns the spray and pray method, with only the ridiculous sideways grip so common to gangsters today, and never learns when the right time is to use his weapon. He also has not learned personal responsibility, and neither of these two poor ignorant children is very likely to learn the true value and power of a woman, or the true value and power of a man. Mostly, because neither of them has ever even heard of any, let alone met one.
Perhaps these are age-old problems, only with the addition of MTV. Perhaps they are problems unique to a declining society. It’s always hard to tell while living through that decline- the Romans probably thought theirs was a permanent society, never to be relegated to dusty antiquity. Their mythology taught lessons, too. Lessons like, “Cheating on your wife will get you into a butt-load of trouble”, just like the dynamics between Hera, Zeus and Hercules. “Use your own talents and follow your own star”, like Remus and Romulus, or like Hercules as he traveled about, saving the world from Gorgons and the like. Then there is the lesson of never giving up hope. This would be the Greek Pandora’s lesson. Hope was the only emotion left in that infamous box, so it is the only feeling that all Humans received. Not every human is angry, a liar, a thief, greedy, lazy, or hateful, or any of the other bad things about humans, at least not all the time. All humans do, however, feel hope.
All the mythologies of all the cultures have something to teach us. Right from wrong, good from bad, personal responsibility, and knowing exactly who we are, can all be learned from the mythologies, whether these be the monotheistic, pantheistic, animistic, or any other type of mythology. In their own way, the mythologies are merely morality tales, told about heroes and villains, gods, goddesses and mortals, all meant to illustrate the morality of the time and the culture from which we learned them.
Most of us still have much to learn, and since we, as adults, have responsibilities to our children, we have much to teach. Perhaps that is the most important lesson to be learned from the various world mythologies.
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