Indo-Aryans invented human cyclical roles of existence of four phases: the child, youth, adult, and elder. The West designated time segments. When life expectancy was 60, each phase constituted 15 years. Now that it is heading 80, 20 years makes a phase. The role definitions stayed with us to this day in the journey from childhood to adulthood.
Congruent to the 12-beat year cycle of the lunar calendar used in most of Asia (year of the Rooster), and the 12-beat month cycle in the western Zodiac (sign of Leo), with its Greco-Roman days (am a Wednesday child), we pattern our journey accordingly, choosing a 12-beat cycle seven times (7 x 12 = 84) to reach our covenanted 86 years (two additional years' icing on the cake).
Those seven phases are: Childhood (at play), Youth (the poet groping with symbols), Emerging Adult (full societal participation), Adult (the prime of one's capabilities and apex of one's sense of responsibility), Professional Adult (unconditional vocational expenditure), Elder (the quiet adviser), and Sage (the silent wise one).
Our commercial society has latched on to the eternal virtues of youth, and from Qin Shi Huangdi's search for the anti-aging formula to the Hispanic conquistadores' search for the fountain of youth, and now, on science's promise of duplication by cloning, youth as the eternal state from which we do not wish to be delivered from is a continuing pursuit.
It is late afternoon close to dusk in our life, and we listen to Carl Jung's musing: “One cannot live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie.”
Our morning was informed by the European Medieval Ages that lent us a four-phased life journey heavily given Christian ontological designations once taught in seminaries through which we briefly went through. These four phases are: Incarnation, Growth and Maturity, Ministry and Cruciformity, and the Resurrection (typologies ours, not academe).
Let us look at the bookends. Incarnation simply meant there was no mistake to one's existence. The metaphor was “created in the image of God”; the story was the virgin birth of Jesus in a lowly manger. In current scientific perspective, that would be the affirmation that at the moment of our conception, the ovum chooses and the sperms strive to be the winner in the bursting forth into existence; the nine-months following produces extreme creativity with a welcomed sperm cell and the ovum jointly creating a magnum opus.
Resurrection is the meaningfulness and significance of existence decided in the creative tension of free choice and obligation. “Death has no dominion.” Freedom does. Life is good, the past finished, the future open, and the here-and-now the tableau on which freedom is exercised. However, the powerful story of the empty tomb has been relegated to the realm of Superman reversing the earth's rotation to avert total disaster and annihilation.
In between, the architectonic works of Augustine celebrating the city of man and the city of God also doomed human genetics to perdition out of a perceived mistake from the Garden of Eden. Incarnation moved to the province of the chosen and the select. Growth and maturity however, kept provisions for anyone to be the saved.
Aquinas equated the city of man to the natural world and gave us the supernatural as the realm where peace and justice prevailed. Ministry became a task of promoting “the kingdom of God” and cruciformity, or the life of service in the lifestyle of the suffering servant, the mode. The saved attained peace and tranquility. They went to Heaven and the lost headed for Hell. We've been stuck in that metaphor ever since.
The package was neat and workable in the cloisters of our imaginations. Except reality does not take too kindly to perverted truths behind walls, and the cosmology of the lab moved from the earth-centered perspective of astrology in alchemy to the wonders of a Big Bang in a 13.7 billion-year-old universe. The perversions that accompanied the use of Judeo-Christian biblical stories in maintaining the Holy Roman Empire were legion, notwithstanding Wesley's social conscience. Pax Amerikana picked up the task of empire and built a worldwide military-industrial complex extending the legionnaire and cleric's rule.
The Breton Woods conference in 1944 gathered 44 nations, creating the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that launched the U. S. path of Pax Amerikana. My existence coincides with the clasp of the eagle's talons on the globe commencing on the tail end of the Potsdam Conference when Truman and the allies decided the terms for Japan's WWII surrender. Coterminous, we will be excused our critical enthusiasm over the spread of the eagle's wings!
We do live in the afternoon of life no longer according to the program of life's morning. What is important in our evening is no longer the ontological musing of the past, most of which have become lies. Nor that of midday when Pax Americana wore Peace Corps volunteers' smiles. The reality and truth of the boot and the drone keep us on our toes, and the finger does the writing!
Jaime R. Vergara (email@example.com) is a former PSS teacher and is currently writing from the campus of Shenyang Aerospace University in China.