On Isolation and Origin Stories

To my mind, Plato’s parable about the birds helps explain how different cultures developed their own origin stories, and their own gods. The separate cultures completely isolated from each other in the early days of civilization, and they developed their origin stories independently. Naturally there would be disagreements – apples and oranges sorts of disagreements – between cultures when they ran into each other. I wouldn’t think that people would go to war over an argument about the differences between apple birds and orange birds, but arguments over the difference between apple gods and orange gods have been a serious problem since the early days of civilization.

I’m optimistic that this issue has the potential to actually dissipate over the next few generations. It will become more and more difficult to hold stubbornly onto provincial origin stories as our connectedness leads to an explosion in shared learning. We are becoming a global village; through social media our children will have friends all over the world – even if they never leave Spokane. Succeeding generations might find it difficult to hold onto provincial opinions when they can flip a switch on their phone and talk to someone on the other side of the world, with their own set of provincial opinions. As neighbors eventually learn to find common ground, I’m sure we as a global culture can learn to do the same.

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