Creation stories around the world have presented the same structure, the same basic narrative: a male and a female human being are created (or engendered or fashioned, produced) — after or before everything else that exists — by a deity or natural force or primordial process. Then the male and the female reproduce and their offspring disseminate throughout the world, with the fate of the original humans soon overshadowed, though their character has indelibly marked the nature of human beings ever after.
Science has employed the same motif — not with a primordial couple, of course — describing generation, reproduction, and distribution across the planet, reflecting adaptation to various habitats, and accounting for the “nature” of human beings genetically and environmentally. The engendering force is not described but assumed. The notion of chaos or a succession of chaotic events as evolution parallels the attempted logic tenuously explaining all outcomes.
The concurrence of myth and science on fundamentals of human origins reinforces the notion that all human beings are related to one another in some essential way, even if that way is crudely material. All human beings are familial. Such a notion is not odd or irrational projection, not idealism, but a matter of biology and logic, observable today through countless observations. The separation of human beings into many cultures, languages, customs, beliefs, and habits is a matter of climate, geography, and circumstances. It, too, is the subject of many folk and mythological tales and scenarios, for primitive peoples universally sought to describe the phenomena around them, however colorfully. Indeed, do we not vainly try to describe the phenomena around us as avidly, if not with much more insight or success?
The history of animal populations from aquatic to reptile, insect, bird, and mammal, all evidence simple and basic patterns of behavior that are merely amplified in humans, extended by a diversity of common factors of social behavior. Perhaps the unwelcome (to some) notion of kindredship among all human beings is only less welcome (to others) than the auxiliary notion that animals and all sentient beings are intrinsically related to us.
Ironically, the very tool exercised by human beings in their evolution from other species (or from the moment of their creation, it does not matter which) is consciousness. Consciousness is what separates human beings from the sense of unity among all beings. This separation is not simply the separation of natural units but a profound alienation that is the cause of our misery, restlessness, and destructiveness.
Consciousness is not alienation; reflection on separation is alienation. Anxiety arising from separation is the root of the sense of obligation to transform the totality of environment from physical to mental in order to assuage the wound, the source of misery that consciousness unattended lays heavily upon human beings.
This urge to transform becomes an urge to deform: to deform landscape, space, time, relations between humans (society) and relations with all living and non-sentient things. Ultimately, this condition or sense of separation from nature and creation is woven into the narratives of myth and explanation, rule and value, law and order, society and person.
The narrative affirms the separation and indeed celebrates it, for it can then project the possibility, the necessity, of transcending it and transforming society into an all-encompassing super- or over-humanity (to use the Nietzschean notion more loosely). However, where Nietzsche sees the ubermensch as a necessity of the modern era to safeguard the individual, society as a whole (and its elites) extended this notion to itself and spreads it over selected parts of itself, such that Nietzsche’s dreaded State was not only not transcended but actually strengthened through various transformations reaching to an over- or super- status, chiefly through technology and consolidation of social infrastructure.
The co-opting by society of the notion of a transcendence intended for the individual was inevitable. What are the virtues of the individual? Whatever they are, they can be isolated into concepts and blocks of behavior and applied to society, or, rather, by society for the control of society. The ruthless severing from tradition, values, cultural mores, the whole package of a “genealogy of morals” boldly proclaimed against the dominant elites and their docile classes was one more device to be turned against the critic and the aspirant.
The inversion of life is death, of Eros is Thanatos (as Freud said). The same inversion was applied to the alienation of human beings from nature, and rather than resolve or reconcile consciousness and nature, society removes individual consciousness from autonomy and subordinates or amalgamates the individual into society at large. The individual’s tenuous link to originating culture is severed for dependence on artificial culture manufactured by modern elites and modern factors of environment, habit, and socialization. This is characteristic of modern times, achieved with meticulous design by war, economic change, psychology, and technology. The sense of individual triumph and freedom expressed by a Nietzsche (however theoretical) is today an illusion of autonomy and a sublimation of fears that are now addressed through social devices like technology and propaganda.
Yet, since primordial history, different cultures learned to address consciousness in different ways. The torment of consciousness and its consequential rending into Eastern and Western cultural spheres reflects, in part, a different cultural anthropology East and West. Historically, this divergence was sealed by rejection of a deeper comprehension of consciousness by the Western world. The West has, over millennia, devolved into cultivating the misery of consciousness through its own violence, aggression, internecine conflict, authority and control — and spread this eastward and world-wide. For the Western world, the resolution of consciousness was not to be left to the philosophers and sages, for it is useful to the generals and the elites.
All wars are internecine wars, civil wars, because all human beings are part of the same origins, the same family, despite their long-term yet anecdotal differences. Each group defends circumstantial habitat and fiercely clings to mythologies of origins and distinctiveness. The early Nietzsche himself, in Human, All Too Human, noted that the State will always argue the necessity of its arsenal as defensive, implying that its neighbors are untrustworthy and harboring malicious thoughts and designs against it. This thought is a self-fulfillment of an already festering instinct to aggression. No peace can arise gradually, Nietzsche continues. A State must rid itself of all its weapons in order to demonstrate its best motives, and this will be unilateral, and unlikely, but provides the only way out for humanity.
Given the nature of groups, society, and geopolitics, only individuals can solve societal ills, by addressing them within themselves. Thus, by analogy, we disarm our self, we rid ourselves of all vices and impurities and all torment of consciousness and unaddressed instincts. The larger group evolved from the solitary individuals, according to every culture’s creation stories. These primordial expressions lie at the heart of all of us as models of being. Every culture carries a primordial design in its core, but never looks deeply at the inkling or insight it reveals, namely, the basic understanding that we are all, for better or worse, related.