A Very Human Story
We have imagination, the ability to see what is not present, not material, not real. We can envisage what might lie elsewhere, or up ahead, or out there; and we can imagine it as an abundance, a richness, a wealth, a form of plenty, a treasure. Whether it is meat still on the hoof, the harvest from a field that is not yet sown, the gemstone hidden in the rock, the potential of a voice or an image that has not yet been painted, we human beings have the ability to see through what is actually in our hands to what might be ours if we work for it in a particular way.
Arguably the story of stories. The basic structure which is at the root of all stories. Maybe even the reason human beings started to tell stories and continued to do so. As a way of passing on knowledge about this challenging, multi-faceted journey. And how to deal with the adversity we find along the way.
This is not only my story, but a very human story. The ability to push against the limits of what is possible is fundamental to our nature as a species. Arguably, it is our willingness to do this which has made us human; which still makes us human; which exemplifies the human spirit at its greatest. If we are told that something is impossible, that becomes the thing we want to do. If we are told that this is all there is, we tend to start asking whether that is so. If we are told that this is all we will get or all we should want, we want to challenge that view, rebel against that limitation, break out of circumstances which we feel are inadequate, impoverishing, destructive and deadly.
It seems lifundamental human story is the quest. And Extending the world we live within. Pushing out the boundaries. Human story encapsulates the human spirit. Does not take no for an answer. Invests all, risks everything to turn that no into a yes. Learning more, understanding more, acquiring more.
In the language of scientists planning probes to edge of the solar system, building telescopes that can look further and further into space, constructing laboratories underground so as to research the tiniest particles of matter, devising experiments to explore conditions at the earth’s core.
In language of those campaigning for justice and peace. First step to freedom for those who are oppressed is to imagine that freedom is possible. That the status quo is not inevitable, change is possible, the situation can be changed, we can change it. I can play my part in changing it. when enough people think like that, the regime falls. Freedom begins in the imagination, because a fundamental part of what makes us human is our ability to imagine an alternative, find it to be desirable and push beyond our own limits, and the limits of our circumstances, to make it happen.
We can visualise, step by step, how we might move from here to there. We can refresh our vision to renew our commitment to the goal when we encounter obstacles, adversity or opposition. Without seeing the treasure, we can believe that it exists, that it is accessible and available to us. We can glorify it as blessing, as gift, as a piece of the divine beauty bestowed on us by the Source of Life.
It was a spirit like this which nudged the earliest human beings into their great migrations out of Africa and through the Middle East to colonise Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australasia tens of thousands of years ago. It is this spirit which has driven the technological and cultural progress of humankind from the making of the earliest stone tools to the present golden age of astronomy. Of course, there have been many basic practical pressures too – the need for food, shelter, security, companionship, children and the power to control important resources – but entwined with those drivers is obstinate curiosity which asks “Why?” and “Why not?”
Eucharistic process hardwired into our brains
Optimum human behaviour
Uses what we have
Applies what we know already
Enables what we know already to become transformative.