Who the hell is god?

Perhaps what the crucifixion and the Jesus story is all about in the twenty-first century, is the death of the masculine principle of the “rule of logic” and a new consciousness being born. The picture of the dying human figure splayed out on the cross—limbs and body parts pointing in all directions—is an expression of the ultimate absence of individual free will. Does it, perhaps, point to the end of the primordial “Logos” controller, and to the birth of a more gentle and clever “Emotional” cooperative in charge?

My daughter has long known that we don’t really have free will here on earth. It’s taken me decades to get there. I might be part of her success, however, since I brought her up without making her feel shame or guilt! When she tells me this, I reply that it was a by-product of extreme love; I was definitely not a perfect parent.

I have long known guilt as an accomplice; my daughter’s nemesis has always been shame. I read somewhere a learned article on the differences between shame and guilt, in which shame was associated with “community conscious” cultures, such as many Asian societies, and the other was more relevant to the individualised West. Perhaps this is an over-simplification, for they join together at some point, but it highlights different experiences lived by my daughter, an eighties child, and me, a war-time baby.

For me, shame is red and guilt is black. Shame is like ripping a bandaid off a sore, quickly, while guilt can invade a mind for a long time, before being exorcised.

Shaming-type parents and harshly punitive ones, may deprive the child of a sense of positive self-esteem and confidence forever. Both models of parenting serve to undervalue a child’s emotional SELF.

Is it time to end the spectre of children being pushed to succeed intellectually, while denying them their true birthright of a healthy emotional life? Of course, I’m over-simplifying things here, but it might be time to look at the brain/heart (mind/soul) balance in societies around the world and to think about ways of recalibrating it.

Today, much is being written and discussed about the importance of emotional intelligence and its links with conflict resolution. That’s at the adult level and its importance in the workplace. How it is being applied at the level of childhood, is the critical question for me. Again, I can only speak from my own experience. I carried guilt about my brother’s near-death accident for years. No one talked to me about it at the time. My daughter’s experience of parenting has been complementary to mine.

Kate is unapologetically on the side of the emotions. I wasn’t surprised to discover that she had become a “good parent” to her two boys. Did she research preschools, or did the right one fall into her hands? Possibly the latter, as she is a good communicator and places great stock on making friends. “KU”, as my grandkids called the preschool in the inner west, based the curriculum on emotional intelligence. The staff shared skills and insights with parents and even gave lectures at night. It all boiled down to children learning how to empathise with others’ feelings, after being taught how to recognise and name negative emotions. This is ground-breaking stuff in my books. Perhaps it’s right that it’s happening from the bottom up, as that is a good sign for things to come.

Relationships are difficult, and there’s a real need to be connected with others in society. But you need to work on yourself and understand your own flaws first. This can take a lifetime. It has for me. Only then, can you empathise with others’ problems.

The idea that free will doesn’t really exist here on earth is not anti-religion, and says nothing about belief or disbelief in God. In fact it is the opposite. By acknowledging lack of control, we are stepping out into the void and accepting that we are in the hands of something much bigger than ourselves, but something that we are unable, in our earthness, to comprehend. My memoir, Tales from the Depths, looks at my childhood experiences from a fictionalised but true perspective. A spiritual longing to be connected, at the base of my story and my personal journey, mimics the eternal yearning to be connected to a higher power.

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