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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/30/15

The Power of Metaphor to Foster a Sense of Belonging

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In today's world, many have said that we suffer from a sense of alienation. What is alienation? Webster dictionary defines alienation as: a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person's affections from an object or position of former attachment.

Some of what we see as alienation are (1) not belonging; (2) being an outcast; (3) being isolated; (4) being ignored; or (5) being different or strange. This makes for a lonely world, doesn't it?

So why are many of us suffering symptoms of alienation? Why in an overcrowded world are we most abused by alienation? Some ideas I have are:

1. We are not taught how we are connected to everything else. In science, this is called reductionism. In this process, it is believed that breaking reality into its parts leads us to Truth. In religion and politics, it is a division of the sects, which in many cases results in friction and war.

2. We are disempowered. As reflected in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, we were kicked out of paradise. The story was written around the time that we moved from hunting / gathering cultures and into agriculture which ultimately led to standardization (in farming this is known as monoculture cropping). (See Daniel Quinn's work, Ishmael and his analysis of the Cain and Able story.)

3. We don't get our relationship to this planet and universe. For example, chaos theory states that the flapping of a butterfly's wings in China is a participant to the weather in New York. Another example is that plants breathe out oxygen, which we mammals breathe in, and we breathe out carbon dioxide, which the plants breathe in. We are taught to relegate nature to a category beneath us to be utilized by us arrogantly. Thus we are deprived of our companion, brother, sister, mother and father, or even self.

4. Thus, we are alienated because we don't see our participation in the whole. Our reciprocity with the All in which we are embraced, and which we are granted the joy of co-creating is ignored; ergo, we are ignored.

One aspect to the problem is our language, which also forms the foundations of our inner beliefs. We often times don't get, and distrust, the language of metaphor. This is unfortunate for as Gregory Baetson defines it, metaphor is a language that connects. ( Moreover, we don't see that all spoken language is metaphor in sound of what we experience and think, and all written language is a second generation of metaphor in sight

Understanding metaphor helps us to connect. Is is the medium through which we communicate (achieve communion). It is a form of love-making! It has the same epistemological meaning as religion, which is to bind together.

For example, if I say Tsara Shelton's words are seminal to this writing, I am saying she is a father to this this work. (Tsara is an editor for Oped, In my conception, I am its mother. Tsara, as a woman, has masculine powers and I, as a man, have feminine. Thus, creatively, we express our belonging to all humanity, not just our gender.

This is the potential of going back to a verb-based language. It could very well help to foster a sense of belonging over a sense of alienation. It highlights that we are participant in the wave, not just isolated in the particle.

When I long ago read about the Goddess Athena in Greek, I automatically knew She was female because She conceived thought. Thus, it was not alien to me when I read about the Keres Pueblo Native Americans who named their Goddess Spider Grandmother / Thinking Woman.

This knowledge of the relationship of Athena to Thinking Woman brings us to a law of the universe that states: The part mirrors and contains the whole. In Tsara, I see myself. And if she really got into a meditation, she would say the same thing about me. Thus, we see ourselves in the mirror of each others' eye.

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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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