Butler postulates an intriguing idea throughout the three novels - - that humankind is in the grip of a major genetic conflict: they are species of high intelligence and they are hierarchical.
The Oankali offer the possiblity of a new human colony on Mars where humans, healed of their infertility, can live in freedom - although they will never be fully able to replicate "earth" as they knew it. There is uncertainty about how long the human species might survive in a new world before they once again find a way to destroy themselves.
The words keep reverberating as I read the headlines. The struggle for dominance of one human way of being over another way of being seems inescapable. The level of intelligence committed to this need to dominate is impressive. When I read about the Ivy League creds behind a DeSantis or a Kavanaugh and witness the many very intelligent, university trained minds that populate the House of Representatives and the Senate and the Supreme Court, not to mention the many governors' offices and state legislatures around the country, I wonder if Butler's dystopic conclusion is right.
The need to dominate is incredibly ancient in our genetic make-up - - the survival of the fittest and all that. When paired with the more recent development of intelligence in our evolutionary process, it has become increasing destructive and deadly. Witness the armaments that are now stored in even the most benign looking households, owned by families with young children, or by individuals whose mental and emotional balance are more governed by fear and the need to dominate than by confidence and lovingkindness, or by militias whose minds can only see threat and danger that needs to be dominated and destroyed. Witness the conflict over control over the judiciary in Israel. Witness the terrible terror in Sudan.
The idea of a "genetic conflict" or contradiction poses a real dilemma for the spiritual path. Something to ponder in the daily endeavor to enter life in a way that causes no harm and, indeed, helps to alleviate suffering, without exercising dominion over the will of another. It represents a "knotty" problem - one that doesn't lend itself easily to unraveling.
I came away from the dharma talk feeling more empowered for life where I live it, realizing that I, too, embody the Butlerian "genetic conflict" or contradiction, but through mindfulness I can at least moderate it and make choices arising out of a different way of being.
In her dystopic fiction, Octavia Butler's work seems often to posit this possiblity for humankind on another planet - in some new world. But eventually I come to the conclusion that we humans have to wake up and make THIS world the place of wholeness and well being if we are going to survive our own self destructive tendency. We have the intelligence, but the need for hierarchies of control and dominance has to go.
Post a Comment