I remember the hymn “New Every Morning” with its verse ”
The trivial round, the common task
will furnish all we need to ask
room to deny ourselves; a road
to bring us daily nearer God.”
Many years ago I was as a devout Evangelical Christian, this verse was central to my thinking .Less for its emphasis on the mundane and more because it gave an idea that everything was sacred..That every event in my life was either ordained by God or could be used to develop my spiritual life. In the language of those days, one was given a cross to carry. The size and weight of the cross was variable-but its purpose was to allow God to create His character in us. It’s an interesting doctrine and one I can see as useful. One of the benefits was that it allowed me to find a purpose in whatever suffering I might be going through.(The image at the top of this blog is Google’s response to typing in the verse I’ve just mentioned. For me, at least, it speaks of way finding, an idea implicit in the hymn.)
I want to link this idea of purpose to Isis / Al Qaida’s actions. Or at least to show how this idea might be played out in the minds of those who are able to drive a lorry into a crowd of tourists, bomb a newspaper office, shoot an off duty soldier etc. I think what links all these actions-and so many more- must be the sense of purpose that it gives, particularly if there are mental health issues at stake where one’s sense of self can become so fragile. Linking oneself to Isis or any similar group is to create a sense of belonging .One is part of a crusade to bring about the Kingdom on earth. To rid the world of the heretics who are corrupting the innocent.
(And here is where I want to write a paragraph in parenthesis or as a long footnote, but i’ll try to avoid that temptation and incorporate it into the mainstream.) It is important to try and understand what it is that Isis etc are trying to destroy.We often attack in others the thing we most fear in ourselves. I attack what I most desire and, therefore, most fear.The same dynamic works at an Organisational and Political level as well as at the individual level. So in the “Je Suis Charlie” what was being attacked was the idea of freedom of speech and thought. (Intolerable blasphemies for fundamentalists of any kind.) In the Night Club shooting we might imagine how deeply envious the attackers were of those inside having the temerity to enjoy themselves. (A psychoanalytic understanding of paranoia is that the individual attacks outwardly to defend against the inner attacks in his psyche. The technical term is projective identification.)
I titled this blog 3D living? That was can attempt to consider how rich life can seem given a Higher Purpose. It probably doesn’t matter what, exactly, the Higher Purpose is. To run a marathon every day for a year; To ride a monocycle from Lands End to John o’ Groats in aid of charity or to become an Al Qaeda champion. There is a new purpose to one’s life. It turns ordinary 2D living into a 3D extravaganza. And can be very helpful .Many charities have their followers who do extraordinary feats for their cause. But more importantly there are multitudes of people who support charities with small Standing orders each month. Churches, mosques and Synagogues are supported each week by the regular worshippers. These are the ones who make 2D ling into something rich and nourishing. They are the people for whom the daily round, the common task is sufficient.