The Role of Culture – Another Illusion

     For many years most people born in the United States awakened with their values seemingly pre-installed, i.e., people did not need to develop them in a vacuum.  Society had established an environment where many core values could be readily assimilated by children.  As we soon discovered, growing up in a value-laden culture is not as effective in producing desirable results for our lives as when such values are chosen during a moment of making a critical decision.

     For example, children are given the opportunity for a free public education.  People are taught the medium of exchanging money for the products they desire.  Those who drive cars understand the meaning of symbols like stop signs, traffic lights and the basic rules governing the use of their cars.  Most men and women fill up their days with vocational and family responsibilities.

     While people living in our culture have discerned that much that we take for granted is vastly superior to what others experience in the world family, the collective is forgetting the spiritual origins that created what many of us experience.  We are enjoying the wine without planting more vineyards.

     For example, people often do not know how to handle success.  Professional athletes who were reared in public housing projects often lack the skills of managing their instant multi-million dollar contracts.  Our country is filled with more opportunity than most yet we have identity theft, a flourishing consumption of controlled substances and an emerging lack of personal responsibility among a growing number of people.

     Our once well-managed banking system is in shambles.  Our public school systems are increasingly becoming an exercise in discipline and crowd control.  Much of our nation’s manufacturing capability has been relocated beyond our borders where the wage scale is below our own.  Rampant shoplifting is already being factored into the cost of most products.  Currently it is cheaper for industry to diffuse such loses throughout their customer base than to put in place preventative measures.

     While we have a lot to celebrate as a nation, we also have much that needs to reflect a spirit that is no longer as visible as it once was.  When most of our beliefs and values are second-handed, we feel free to experiment.  Self-interest, greed and violating the public trust, for example, become easier to choose.  The value of “life is about me” erodes the concept of community and the spirit of common courtesies that once dominated every aspect of family and business life.  If the values that produced our culture continue to be compromised, the society that laid the golden eggs will continue its erosion.

     Highly evolved cultures can only exist when the will and spirit of the people desire to keep their core values in tact.  People need to pull on their oars together so that our ship travels in a mutually beneficial direction that insures a bright and productive future for the collective.  When self rules, the sense of being responsible to society vaporizes.  When that sense of obligation leaves people, social chaos is not far behind.

     When Americans increasingly rely on their government to be the chief problem solver of society’s woes, such reliance indicates a fading loss of community.  One by one our freedoms have been diluted or taken away.  We grow used to the new controls over public life in the name of keeping ourselves secure from real or imagined dangers.  Structure is incrementally replacing a common spirit that once grew from people being faithful to their individual responsibilities.  A person’s handshake was their bond.

     A person’s spirit has always been the driver behind his or her choices.  When life’s challenges come, second-handed values seldom deliver the result that prevents our inner world from being shaken.  While his environment was very much like it is today in the Middle East, Jesus was able to flourish with his new message to a very small group in an obscure part of the world.  He was filled with centuries-old second-handed values, but he had developed a God-consciousness which brought a refined focus to life that his cultural orientation could not enhance.

     We can no longer rely on what appeared to be automatic in our culture.  America is dramatically changing due to many influences.  That change will continue to accelerate.  What we experience will always be a changing playground on which the drama of human spirit is made visible.  Many people want to fix the structures of society, but such attempts can only address the symptoms of the problem areas rather than the agents that cause the chaos – namely us and the loss of a common sense of responsibility to continue evolving the values of spirit that were once at the core of our collective understanding.

     To repair societies, people have to repair their own emotional and thought patterns.  Jesus changed the world by communicating from a consciousness that appears very foreign to those who obey today’s teachers that have little to do with the world of spirit.  The resulting consequences will prove to be identical to what caused the collapse of many remarkable civilizations -- Persia, Greece and Rome.

     We lead not by changing the forms that support and govern us but by changing how we think and perceive.  Some of us will always be among those who have a total lack of understanding. Each of us is on our own journey.   Some know this; others do not.  As it was for Jesus’ life so it will be with us.  When loving energy patterns give way to self-interest, values like respect, caring and compassion for our neighbors will leave as well.

     This process has little to do with the noble and character-building qualities of any one religion.  It has to do with who we are as a species.  When we live counter to our innate life-patterns, patterns that reflect God’s nature, our once evolved cultures die a slow and painful death, leaving countless people to speculate what went wrong.  The cycle of death and resurrection of our planets’ more advanced cultures will continue until all people understand the truth about who they are and why they chose to incarnate into a limited solid form.