Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Greed's hypnotism

I'm reading a deeply sobering, on the verge of depressing book, The World without Us by Alan Weisman. You'll hear more about it later. For now, its challenging outlook has been something I've been taking to my Science and Health reading.

Basically, Weisman's book demonstrates that man has been altering his environment since before he could stand on two feet. It's just what we do. I'd always thought humanity's strength lay in its ability to adapt to the environment. Now, I'm seeing that our survival rather has stemmed from our ability to adapt our environment to suit ourselves. It's starting to bug me.

There's one particularly horrifying section about the oil industry in Houston and how its sprawling network of enormous pipes and refineries spreads for miles and miles and miles. I had no idea, of course, of the scope of this industry. Up here in New England, all I ever see is the end result—my being able to put gas in my car at a tiny neighborhood station. My need for gas contributes to that southern behemoth blight on nature.

So here are some passages from Science and Health that I’m reading with a new light, all from the chapter Animal Magnetism Unmasked:

The planets have no more power over man than over his Maker, since God governs the universe; but man, reflecting God's power, has dominion over all the earth and its hosts.

The mild forms of animal magnetism are disappearing, and its aggressive features are coming to the front. The looms of crime, hidden in the dark recesses of mortal thought, are every hour weaving webs more complicated and subtle. So secret are the present methods of animal magnetism that they ensnare the age into indolence, and produce the very apathy on the subject which the criminal desires. p. 102

I'm starting to see the primary crime as greed. Once we've gone beyond necessities, human nature compels us to capitalize on market forces to make as much as we can, as fast as we can. This "crime," hidden or not so hidden in the "dark recesses of mortal thought," becomes admirable as we all look up to those who manage to make a lot of money. It "ensnares the age into indolence," meaning, we let it grow and grow until it takes us over, stripping us of the dominion over the planet and making us its victims. Greed wants us to be apathetic first, then to feel helpless. Well, we're not helpless.

The malicious form of hypnotism ultimates in moral idiocy. The truths of immortal Mind sustain man, and they annihilate the fables of mortal mind, whose flimsy and gaudy pretensions, like silly moths, singe their own wings and fall into dust. p. 103
Greed is destroying itself. As we awaken to the results of excessive greed, we will unify and put a stop to it. This is getting my prayers. Moral idiocy, i.e., aggressive manipulation of our shared environment for personal or corporate gain, will be recognized and resisted. Strength of character will emerge as the primary human characteristic, rather than greed or ineffectiveness. It's really the only way we will survive. And actually, that's rather marvelous—that the finer qualities will become necessary for survival.

The hypnotizer employs one error to destroy another. If he heals sickness through a belief, and a belief originally caused the sickness, it is a case of the greater error overcoming the lesser. This greater error thereafter occupies the ground, leaving the case worse than before it was grasped by the stronger error. p. 104

Again, I think of greed as the hypnotizer. You can always have more, better, bigger. There's no limit to what you can have. It's right and good for you to own and consume as much as you could ever want, never sated, always desiring, always grasping and demanding. This image has enthralled us in the West, and we've exported it to other regions that are now beginning to imitate our consumption along with getting our diseases and adopting our lifestyle. "The greater error" is occupying the ground, "leaving the case worse than before it was grasped by the stronger error." This came upon us unawares, like a thief in the night, but now it's time to fight it.

God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love. p. 106
What to do? I think part of the answer lies in this last passage. Self-government, reason and conscience. Asking ourselves, each of us, do we need everything that we think we need? Are we willing to sacrifice the convenience that has sprung from greed's hypnosis? Are we "properly self-governed" through divine Mind, or acting at the whim of the mortal seeming around us?

This is what I'm wrestling with today.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 12/11/2007 06:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Laura, for this perspective on the environment. We're in the same camp on these issues! I'm afraid that many Christian Scientists and other Christians take the position that, since God gave man dominion over the earth, it's okay for us to exploit it as we see fit. I recall one time having a conversation with a Christian Scientist and mentioning the fact that the United States' consumption of fossil fuels far exceeds our "fair share" in terms of our percentage of the global population. His response was, "Yes, isn't that great?! We should be proud of that - it means that we're maximizing our use of what God has given us." Yikes!

To me "domininion" implies responsibility rather than license. As with parents who have dominion over their minor children, our dominion over the earth is not an invitation to treat it as a disposible commodity but an obligation to serve as its stewards.


At 12/11/2007 06:30:00 PM, Blogger Laura Matthews said...

wow, yikes is right! and I love your point about parenting.

thanks for your comment!


At 12/12/2007 03:14:00 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Thank you for this...but then, I am convinced that "nobody wins unless everybody wins" Greed cannot survive in a cutlture of mutual care and public responsibility...I think the message still resonates "to live for all mankind"...not just ourselves..

At 12/13/2007 12:36:00 AM, Blogger Kim said...

well done! I love this post!


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