“We are all of us, built on a foundation of myths that contain their opposites, both logical and lived. What does it mean to be called good, if evil and the potential for evil do not live in the world and in you?”
|Myth come true|
Humanity has always been interested in myths. It’s borne out of our desire to understand the world. Myths are how humanity makes sense of what can often seem a strange, cruel and unforgiving world. Imagine the first people to see lightning. How terrified would they have been?
But myths also serve another important purpose. They are a way of creating the self, a way of seeing the world as it is, deciding it will not do, and creating a world as we would prefer it to be.
Myths are what humanity believes about its origins, the beginning of its societies and explanations of its various selves. They are the stories taught to children that are passed from generation to generation. They are what make humans human. Shared myths are what transformed humanity from a rag tag fragmented warring and individualistic people into the social creatures we presently are.
Myths are prisms through which humanity sees itself and through which it understands its own society. They shape the way we believe we should act.
Even false myths, as they often are, serve a purpose. Even if they were not totally true in their original form, myths tend to become truer as succeeding generations take them into consciousness and act them out.
But an interesting thing about myths is that even as they become truer over time, to be coherent, for them to make sense, they must contain their opposites. If I call a person “good”, I include in this statement, the thought that gives it its true meaning: what an evil person is. All myths contain this logical negation. They have no meaning otherwise.
Myths contain both a logical and lived opposite. Calling a person good only means anything if that person also has a potential for evil. And often, the people most often called good are those with the deepest darkness hidden within. Think only of killers and madmen, who invariably after their crimes come to light are proclaimed “paragons of virtue.” Everyone is “shocked.” “He seemed such a nice, normal, man” they all say.
This dark side of myth competes for supremacy. If sufficiently strong, it can overwhelm the original myth and eventually become the starting point, but it too will contain its logical opposite. The cycle will continue, for that is the way of mythology and myth-making. And sometimes, these myths are worth preserving. They are what make us human.