As you know, the title of this Blog is Only Connect! – a phrase I borrowed from E.M. Forster’s ” Howard’s End.”
When the human brain had evolved enough, and enough synapses had fired, enough brain cells formed, to allow for that breakthrough moment of “self-consciousness,” human beings were instantly condemned to the highs and lows of experience. We “separated out” from Nature, we no longer saw the “one-ness” of existence. Once, conscious only of our natural drives for survival and procreation and as integrated into the natural order of things as the cheetah or water-bug, we were now aware of ourselves as “something else,” something “in nature” but also able to comment on it. This “separating out” has been documented in myth as the “Fall,” the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the expulsion from Eden. From being numbered among the animals in the Garden, Adam and Eve suddenly became aware of themselves and their nakedness. It was their embarrassed reaction to this tipped God off to the fact that they had disobeyed him and eaten the fated fruit. Our “self-consciousness”, our “fall” from innocence to experience marks the moment in human evolution when our brain capacity reached that critical mass and we “separated out” from everything around us. Ever since, we have struggled to regain a sense of belonging, sought all manner of relief from our deep sense of alienation from each other and from our surroundings. The word “Religion” comes from the Latin “to tie back”: we are constantly trying to tie ourselves back to “the one,” to a sense of universality and belonging. That is both our burden and our gift, because it is in the focus of that struggle that all great works of art, music, literature and expressions of the spirit reside.
And now, suddenly, it seems to me that science, long the antagonist of religion and spirituality, is providing us with the very tools we have been seeking. Not only is our exploration into the fantastic realms of sub-atomic, particle physics giving us evidence of a more profound “connectivity” between all living things, but our advances in computer and communications technology are literally connecting us together in ways that are having a profound effect on how we think, relate and behave. Information is power. It was the “forbidden fruit” of the garden of Eden. In a delicious irony, that same fruit is showing us the way toward a more free, connected and optimistic future. Neither the walls of oppressive politics, nor the personal alienation of the human condition can stand against this tide of synaptic connectivity given shape and meaning by the world wide web.
So, remember, my friends let’s continue to Only Connect!