Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Ishmael Imperative

Is the life of a human being worth more than the life of any other inhabitant of this planet - like this chimpanzee that I saw at the Los Angeles Zoo a month ago? We would say yes, but "God" - or any advanced non-human intelligence - might not make that distinction. As I wrote on my Facebook status after coming back from the Zoo by way of a stop in Beverley Hills, I saw more "humanity" staring into the eyes of this chimp than I did on all of Rodeo Drive.

I recommend that everyone read the wonderful and thought-provoking book Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn.  The novel is a philosophical examination of the captivity of mankind under a distorted, imprisoning and damaging "civilization". In the end, Ishmael, a gorilla which can communicate telepathically, tells the narrator:
The story of Genesis must be undone. First, Cain must stop murdering Abel. This is essential if you're to survive. The Leavers* are the endangered species most critical to the world - not because they're humans but because they alone can show the destroyers of the world that there is more than one right way to live. And then, of course, you must spit out the fruit of the forbidden tree. You must absolutely and forever relinquish the idea that you know who should live and who should die on this planet.
 * All "primitive" cultures

I believe that we will be judged by how we treat the other inhabitants with whom we share this planet. As things stand now, we would be found sorely wanting. Change is imperative -  and not just "at the margins" change which would still have us at the top of the "planetary pyramid", but rather radical and revolutionary change that replaces that pyramid model of order with a different view - a circle, where everyone and everything is interconnected. 

We must become neither "takers" nor "leavers" as envisioned in Ishmael - we must become sharers. Our future depends on it.

This might all sound very "new age" to many readers. To those who would see it that way, I ask one simple question - isn't it about time for a "new age" given how the "old age" has worked out for us, and our fellow inhabitants of this fragile world?

As I wrote in 1992:

In other words, who are we, and more important - who do we want to become?

Paul Kimball


Anonymous said...

I oove this blog - and these thoughts are EXACTLY why I left the corporate world to do what I now 'do' for a living - I may not be popular, but I am making a difference. KMM

Greg said...

Labels like "new age" are used for many purposes. The words are not the problem, it's the way that people use them that count.

Nice new blog. Inspirational! New Age!

Paul Kimball said...

@ Greg - Long live the New Age!

@ KMM - Long live making a difference!