Beacon Upon a Hill

Beacon upon a hill, city upon a hill, a lighthouse for those lost at sea, light penetrating the perpetual dark void — these analogies derived from our great western peaks — ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the Renaissance.  America, from sea to shining sea, devoured by night.  I scan the ”Human” Earth, but I am unable to find a source of light.

Imagine a piece of land within American boundaries that is unspoiled and fertile like an intelligent Spring virgin.  A bountiful fresh river runs down her curves and into the mighty Pacific.  Powerful and robust she thrusts upwards high above the surf.  She is cloaked in fog that eventually gives way to the penetrating sun.  Hawks ride the thermals above looking down on her bounty.  Orcas cruise her shores in search of a Salmon feast.  Massive Grizzlies wade through her river gorging on the Salmon that escaped the Orca patrols.  She provides for noble beasts and has no place for mediocrity.  Here is a place for man to light a spark and start anew.  Here is a place for the re-birth of the “American Dream”, land of the free, home of the brave.

The old, decaying and decadent, worn down by good ideas gone bad, find the strength within to sacrifice and provide for the liberation – resources, money, capital, and no boundaries. Build the city on this noble slice of virgin land and invite the young, the best and brightest in soul, mind, and form, regardless of color, language, or country.  Let them design their own architecture, constitution, laws, philosophy, ideals of true “value”.  Let them live with and amongst the Hawk, the Grizzly, and the Orca on equal footing.

Provide for them in the short-term, as though they were merely a child, and give them time to develop and mature.  Protect this little city, a country within a country, from the darkness that surrounds her border.  Free them of all economic and political burdens. Once the time is right, cut the cord that feeds them, and let their independent genius flourish.  They will become the beacon upon a hill, a symbol for all to see, or they will fail and leave the world for the Orca, Grizzly, or Hawk to define.  Part of me wishes for failure.

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4 thoughts on “Beacon Upon a Hill

  1. Intriguing “musings”. I look forward to some discussion on why you think this “beacon on the hill” is doomed at this point to remain but a “dream”. My sense is that humanity long ago lost control of the forces it would have had to harness to make such a thing a reality. What are your ideas on how humanity could get back to a place where the nightmare could end and the dream become no longer just a dream?

  2. Hello Dragonstrand. That is the question that many intelligent and enlightened men and women have been trying to solve or contemplate for thousands of years. I am by no means the brightest whip to solve this problem. My muse regarding the “Beacon Upon a Hill” was basically offering one potential trial. I would leave it up to the best and brightest (souls, minds, forms) of that unchained newly formed culture to work on the riddle. I have some more specific ideas but those will be mentioned as I make more structured posts or musings.

    We have many examples of trial and error throughout our recorded history. Focusing on western civilization, the cultures that reached some mountain peaks before plunging into the abyss include ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and the Renaissance. Post Renaissance, great achievements seem to have arose out of individual effort or genius despite less than ideal cultural structures.

    Bottom line, there aren’t too many alternatives left. My concern, which will be an upcoming post, is that we have almost 7 billion people on this planet. That number is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. This unfathomable number combined with the perpetual momentum of the existing structures that are passed one generation to the next makes any type of solution very difficult. My muse or suggestion is to carve out a niche within our borders to experiment, and if successful, will serve as a beacon to humanity.

    Otherwise, a natural or manmade catastrophe that dramatically alters the population and our consciousness could be the impetus for a new start — similar to the Noah’s Ark fable. This assumes we could preserve our historical record. Perhaps a major scientific break-through will enable us to relieve the enormous pressure and competition among individuals and nations. Maybe we seek out another planet to colonize. Or, as some block buster movies portray, perhaps a hostile alien force will attack our planet providing us, out of default, a reason to cooperate with each other regardless of origin:)

    I have many concerns about “Utopian” type solutions, which is why I often look to other species on our planet for clues and examine the inanimate forces around us as a basis for reality. I don’t for example; believe everyone can be exactly equal. Some people are simply better at this or that or quite simply more intelligent. These talents should not be discouraged or sacrificed. In fact, the cultural foundation should nurture these talents. But these talents should not be employed to make as much money as possible regardless of the cost to the whole. I am afraid we currently look for talent or employ talent for the sole purpose of making a buck.

  3. I’ll try to avoid being longwinded. Glad to see that you broached the subject of overpopulation and have begun to address that problem superficially in a new post, which I will comment upon under that section.

    Soooooooo . . . . . I see now exactly where you were headed with this “musing”. It reminds me a little of that book Ecotopia–a smaller group of people separating off from the great mass of humanity so as to create, or recreate as the case may be, a kind of ideal world in which the quality of life is of a much higher order than almost everyone in this “human world” can even conceive of. How realistic, though, is it that anyone in this human world would ever allow or support such a thing? Of course, that is the whole point of “musing”–setting “reality” aside and “dreaming” about what could be.

    Basically, I want to forgo the discussion of this “experiment” that is somehow deliberately segregated from the rest of the world, and simply ask the question: What prevents such an ideal world with that higher quality of life from existing for the whole of humanity without the need to segregate off some chosen portion of it that is privileged with experiencing it in some kind of natural laboratory? My answers below.

    1. Overpopulation. Far too many people in this world inevitably creates a watering down of that quality of Life because there are only so many resources to go around. An elite experience of life is difficult if not impossible in the midst of an unchecked herd trampling through–and over–the world. Disney World, gridlock, et al.

    2. Our “democratic values” and blind faith in “freedom”. This essentially feeds right back into problem number one. As another commentator has noted here, there was an awareness among a few thinkers in the 19th century with regards to the problem of overpopulation and where it would inevitably lead to. The solutions to this problem are incompatible with the the ideas of popular will and liberty. In the end, it comes down to sacrificing that higher quality of Life to those ideas. We find ourselves “between a rock and a hard place”–possessing a relatively unrestricted existence in a kind of Hell on Earth. No one had the vision or severity to say: “Look, unless we impose a moratorium on unsupervised procreation, we are going to turn this dream into a nightmare.” Someone might argue: “Yes, but what kind of nightmare would that moratorium be?” If it had been “nipped in the bud”, perhaps it could have been done in a way that wasn’t so nightmarish. Too late now anyhow.

    3. Capitalism. This is basically just an outgrowth of problem number two. “Laissez-faire”–just let us be! Let us procreate and bulldoze everything in sight for the sake of our precious freedom. But at an even more profound level, it comes down to a way of looking at existence and the human being’s “place” within it–how the human being is supposed to be and behave. The idea that the purpose of existence is to amass as much capital as one can–to make money–along with the misconception of Social Darwinism, i.e. that the Alpha Superchimps who exemplify this idea by “climbing to the top of the heap”are the pinnacle of humanity–all of this essentially dislocates the focus of the human being from any kind of higher vision of existence that would focus on developing humanity for a higher end, including that higher quality of life. You have discussed some of this in your musings on “the human world without money”. I agree with some of your thoughts in that post. Imagine what could be achieved if the human being created a kind of foundation in which basic needs were a given and all of the focus was instead upon developing the human being–creating the human being–and a higher quality and form of existence; not to mention focusing on other universal tasks utterly lost in the brutal hyena and vulture orgy of capitalism, such as sustaining that existence in outer space.

    4. Mass media and popular “culture”. Our celebrated technological advances, which were hailed as our saviors, only provide us with yet another example of humanity’s stubborn knack for squandering opportunities. What could have been an opportunity for collective intelligence has dead-ended into the pitiable reality of collective idiocy. I won’t go into the details, and the exceptions are too few to note–perhaps your site is one of them. My essential argument here is that the means to easily and rapidly broadcast data to humanity has resulted in a dumbed down and artificial sense of Life that is mistaken as “reality” because people–more and more as a result of the data they are relentlessly inundated with–no longer have any idea that there is anything else out there or possible. They are basically conditioned to believe through repetitive exposure that there really is nothing else higher or better than this “reality”. Hence, the grotesque and unbridgeable chasm between say, the art of Michelangelo and–you pick the example: Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Lil Wayne et cetera. (As an interesting aside, Michelangelo comes up as an unrecognized spelling error on this site, but not Lil Wayne) To the people of this age, the former is some kind of “myth” that for some reason could never exist in this world. Why is that I wonder? The higher quality of life you reference in your musings requires a higher vision of life and its possibilities and potentials.

    5. Religion. I’m sure you can guess my arguments here. I refer essentially to established, conventional religions that teach human beings to believe that Paradise in this world is an impossibility and is something that is only achieved in another world “after death”. It follows from this that “Hell on Earth” is a kind of ineludible reality, which is the antithesis of your idea that some kind of heaven on earth could be achieved. I also happen to think that, for example, it is also the antithesis of what Jesus believed and taught, which is that one should attempt to enter Paradise in this moment in this world and attempt by every means to bring others with one. People’s actions are a direct result and reflection of their beliefs. If they believe the “Kingdom of Heaven” is in another world, then it is likely they will regard this world as a hellish means to it, as a kind of disposable vessel en route to a “better world”.

    Certainly there are other factors, but I have already been longwinded enough.

    Cheers Mate,

    DS

    • One more thing I forgot to mention under section 5, Religion: The notion that someone is “out there” watching out for us fosters the delusion that we do not have to watch out for ourselves. The belief that there is some kind of “divine plan” beyond our control becomes a bridge to the conviction that we should not and indeed cannot make plans of our own. Hence, the world can “go to hell” since we ultimately have no control over it anyway.

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