conflict, criticism, and coexistence

Conflict and criticism make coexistence just about impossible.
I think of this today not in terms of my little picture (well, actually it holds true of my little picture as well), but rather one of the bigger ones with which raging writer Chris Locke is always dealing and where I popped in this morning to be confronted by this quote, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil;

but for good people to do evil โ€” that takes religion.

Steven Weinberg ~ A Designer Universe?

Locke, whose book-in-progress Mystic Bourgeoisie is a rant about — well, just about everything that seems silly to him about how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to believe in signs & portents that would make the middle ages blush — is a writer who takes great energy to read. I don’t have great energy lately, but I do go in and read snippets because he always stirs my own thinking. I should be unpacking more boxes and putting together more of the cheap press-board pieces of furniture that function well to my purposes but make me crazy while putting them together. But, thanks to the anti-mystical mental meanderings of that probloglific Chief Blogging Officer, here I am instead.
The article to which Chris Locke links in relation to the above quote is just about the best/most readable explanation I’ve come across describing the conflict between science and religion. Weinberg ends his piece with the following:
In an e-mail message from the American Association for the Advancement of Science I learned that the aim of this conference is to have a constructive dialogue between science and religion. I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.
As humans, it seems to me, we are entities of infinite opposities. We are both rational and irrational, logical and illogical, pragmatists and dreamers, warriors and peacemakes, destroyers and creators. We have lives of the body and lives of the spirit. And all of the those dualities always seem to be in conflict, with themselves and with each other.
In my own life, I struggle daily to find a way to enable my opposing tendencies to coexist constructively. That’s often where metaphor and psychotherapy and poetry help. Me. I’m saying they help me.
In various “bigger pictures,” it’s not so easy, not easy at all. And in the the largest global context, when the similar forces of nationalism and religion join their conversion efforts on various fronts (and, of course, I have in mind today’s America as well as Israel and Palestine and Iraq), coexistence is futile.
I believe that there is a place for spirituality in our lives, but it helps us most when it’s kept personal. Once it gets organized into a religion, well, the opening quote to this post says it all.
Science looks for answers. The spirit makes up its own.
Science searches for proveable facts. The spirit thrives on metaphor.
I often wonder if the difficulty with achieving coexistence of any kind has something to do with passion. Passion energizes us, gives us purpose and promise. It is so with the investigations of scientists and so with the journeys of the spirit. What you get as results in both cases can be truly awe-inspiring.
On the other hand, I think of the passion of national and religious proseltyzers/zealots/missionaries and the conflicts they generate.
We seem to very much need a place to put our passions. How do we coexist and engage our passions?
Maybe that’s our real challenge as human beings — not to struggle to rule the world as organized nations or religions, but rather to struggle to understand ourselves and each other from the perspective of our own personal dualities and the way we realize our passions.
I like Locke’s writing because it’s passionate. I’m bothered by his thinking because he seems, too often, to either compartmentalize or dismiss what he can’t seem to make coexist with his passion.
Yet, that’s often what makes his stuff a teeth-clenching rollercoaster read.
And just to annoy him a little more, I have to point out that my continously most popular posts — the ones to which I keep getting the most comments — are the ones where I mention my spurts of seeing the numbers 11:11 — here (100 comments on that one), and here (21 comments on that one).
One comment left today linked to this site, where, coincidentally (or maybe synchronistically), hummingbirds are mentioned.
There sure is a lot of strange stuff out there with which to try and coexist.
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2 thoughts on “conflict, criticism, and coexistence

  1. Hmm. Does that mean you’re Mr. Unnatural?
    And, you know, as well as I, that synchronicities mean whatever we need them to mean.
    So, 11:11. What a great metaphor.
    Always beginning? Struggling for balance? Equality at the most elemental level?
    A brain tumor? A subconscious awareness of the time for the number to appear because we noticed it more than once and now we want it to be a special pattern.
    Or maybe. Maybe. We are in the throes of a major mental meltdown, and we will wind up back at square 1.
    Or maybe your book will be published on 11/11 and it will change the world.
    Ya’ got my best magic on that one

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