Dante saw in his vision of heaven that the law of things is naturally to ascend, but our spirits here on earth seem subject to the law of gravity and tend to fall. That law of gravity, the descent to the lowest common denominator of human behavior, from New Orleans and Minnesota to Dallas has done its work this week and held our attention and broken our hearts. There is not a day goes by, however, that this descent, this law of gravity in human nature, this tendency to fall, is not operative and present—in homes, in the streets of our cities, in our relationships, our economics, our politics, in the chaos of the middle East, everywhere. The “descent” of this past week makes one wonder if this is really the norm, that perhaps it is only the “law of gravity,” this tendency to fall to the lowest common denominator of human behavior, that we can expect in this society, this world, this planet.
It is illogical and unrealistic to assume that this tendency to descend, to fall to the lowest common denominator of human behavior, is only seen and found in a few others and not in ourselves. We are not immune. The law of gravity within our own natures is present and operative all the time. How often have I chosen to descend rather than ascend? How about you? We have said despicable things about our brothers and sisters. Our bigotry, our racial undertones, our dismissive attitudes toward others, our narcissistic preoccupations, cause us to rummage in the garbage of human depravity too! Don’t even think about throwing the stone! We are all human beings subject to this law of gravity and we have all fallen and we all have the tendency to do so again!
We may laugh and disparage the myths of the past, those found in ancient texts, about the “Fall of Humankind,” but we are very foolish to do so. Just a brief scanning of our history confirms its reality.
|The Yucca knows|
how to ascend
This story of the Fall, this law of gravity, our tendency to descend, does not have the last word! There is another dimension. In those same ancient texts this other story is told. It proclaims that there is a higher law which says we can ascend, that we can be more than we normally are, that we have within us a spark of divinity (that of God in us) that can be fanned and kindled, which, in turn, can produce the vision Dante saw in heaven, where we ascend above our lower natures and become better than we are.