Chaos and confusion

When you decide to dedicate your life to writing, planning to be read by others, one of the first pieces of advice you hear is that you should “write about what you know.”

It makes sense. If there’s something anyone can understand, it is the personal stuff that we go through, and that, with time, becomes our own “life experience.” Right?

The best, the deepest philosophy is one based upon reflections on life itself, or on the life led by each of us. It is expected that the quality of the result, I’m not sure whether by cause or consequence, will reflect the intelligence, knowledge and sensitivity of the one who writes it, ideally inciting the understanding of the one who reads it. A good start.

At any rate, today these simple rules are as obsolete as the fact that in the past people were born and raised (and often died) without setting foot outside of their hometown, where everyone knew everyone else. Instructions were clear and direct, and when added to a small arsenal of accumulated human knowledge, they provided the certainty of a quiet life within the family realm. Few dared to extrapolate beyond this limit, since things “out there” always entailed a risk: the risk of adventure; the risk of success or failure; the risk of the unknown. And the risk of an unknown and coveted happiness.

The lure of the unknown was at the time the reason, the driving force behind the expansion of knowledge. Each framework of ideas had its own natural maturation time, and if time proved the value of these considerations, they could be published as a book and added to the scope of existing ideas. Voilà, we were back to the starting point, but with human culture made a little richer.

It was a world in which people knew little, but in which this little was well known, without the painful awareness of how limited that knowledge was.

Outside of this peaceful everyday existence lived the great leaders and their heroic subordinates, whose daily lives were spent in war; from time to time, they would go home for a “family holiday,” that is, if they were still alive. Now and then, one expected that a tragedy would occur, due to some dramatic weak spot in the village defense. Invasion, death and destruction would follow.

Nothing and no one was arguably good or unquestionably bad. All was relative, changing according to the conditions and the people who put themselves in leadership positions. The others adapted the best they could.

There was night. There was day. God had set them apart a long time ago, the book tells us, starting a movement of constant evolution, improvement, civilization. Above all this hovered an even greater certainty, engaging, all-encompassing, capable of explaining all future uncertainty: The faith in a being who loved us and protected us, and who knew everything there was to know; and who, under the right circumstances, would occasionally share his knowledge with us. Everything we could not explain through our rational view could be surely explained by our spiritual view.

And here we are. This older perspective has little to do with our world today, where we are often forced to live by rules we are not aware of and that change on a daily basis. The borders of the community in which we live have dissolved into virtual reality, transforming the world into the much celebrated “global village.” In which, however, regardless of the most idealistic predictions, we are not all brothers and sisters. On the contrary, we are all foreigners. And every day we become more estranged, our predictable lives increasingly plunged into chaos and confusion, everybody talking at the same time with little knowledge of what we say or intend to say. We may communicate in a common language, but it is one that, unfortunately, nobody really understands. We are all trying to conduct ourselves according to the highest, most advanced parameters, in step with the modern slogans broadcast in real time by the news channels — continuously, day and night — trying to act based on hashtags created just yesterday or the latest tweets we read. In this unprecedented competitive environment, we seek to express the most elevated feelings and follow the most highly exacerbated mores of perfect humanism. And that, more often than not, ends up in creating situations that are the opposite of our intentions.

There is an ongoing, widely spread disagreement. Could this be proof that the future is in fact the past? Might the universe be shrinking, collapsing back to the state where it had begun?

Considering the terrible recent events, why did I choose suddenly to take refuge in such deep thoughts, so radically distinct from the actual events?

At first, I admit, I could not find an effective way to express my gut feelings in writing. These were of hatred, revolt, impediment, so close to my heart and yet terribly estranged. I had the displeasure of seeing my chronicle about the attacks — which I had written blindly in the darkness of early developments, my mind stumbling in a liquid that felt like lukewarm water but was in fact blood being shed — be censored by a major portal under the claim that it contained “offensive and dangerous” material.

Offensive and dangerous? Me? I was shocked. Make no mistake, as did the Internet robot that blocked me. It was just an “unfortunate” choice of words, “unfortunate” according to the current evaluation parameters, of course, because in the world today many written words are read out of context, apart, therefore, from their original meaning, their true meaning. Sometimes they are confused by the filter of the utilized lexicon in such a way that their honest purpose can be easily manipulated.

Much has been said and shared recently as mere lip service, controlled by the unrecognized rules of an ongoing ideological totalitarianism, although they may sound straightforward, open, said from the heart. And this would include me as well. Everything seems to contradict the desired direction. Knowledge, which was once seen as sin and the reason why we were expelled from our paradise of ignorance, is revealing itself to be the network of the Apocalypse, as we are denied the opportunity to digest all the facts around us.

I started this chronicle, I must confess, with a specific end in sight. I intended to lead you through the historical maze of positivism to reach a premeditated and rather obvious conclusion about the unreasonability of religion, of religions, inevitably diverted from their original etymological purpose, “religare,” reconnection. I had planned to condemn the false idea that a god made in our image might be guiding us, as we try to comprehend how a message of love and understanding has resulted in hatred and destruction, again counter to its original intent. Might a dynamic of expansion be taking us to a state of maximum contraction, to the originating state where an all-organized universe would become its undesired opposite, tohu vavohu, chaos and confusion?

Along the way, however, I came across a much simpler human truth, much more direct, easier to understand. And here I stopped.

We are all, each in his own way, and some more strongly than others, incredibly distanced from our own center of gravity, that internal point of balance that makes human life on Earth possible, that reality that keeps us standing upright and able to walk, that makes our bodies function without our conscious control. By contrast, this reality makes us aware of body and mind, a result that is not due to an exterior entity manipulating us from the outside, as if we were puppets. What makes us ourselves is the evolutionary force of nature that, in our particular case, is based on the fact that there is a center of gravity, a natural force whose source we ignore but which, nevertheless, is what defines us.

This, my friends, does not exist outside of ourselves. This is not about what others say is right, desirable, something that we force ourselves to accept in order to “appear” connected, although we know deep inside that it is misguided and illogical, and is at this moment reaching the limits of uncontrollable absurdity. Everything must be tried in order to change this development.

We do not owe life to a nondescript being who, paradoxically, looks exactly like a man, only bigger, more imposing and ubiquitous, as perhaps we would like to be; worse, more serious, who allows a few people to represent him the way they want, through the most abject and despicable traits humanity (or the lack of it) may have. And on behalf of whom, unfortunately, such destruction has been perpetrated.

I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God. But it’s no wonder my husband Alan describes God as gravity, and it sounds as if I’m finally starting to understand the meaning of this conception. The ideal God is not the force of gravity per se, but our own center of gravity, to which we need to return urgently, each one of us.

One word at a time.

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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