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In his book, Ishmael, Daniel Quinn discusses the basic vision upon which our culture is based. His premise is that as a culture, we have a mythology and vision that underlies everything we do. In this sense, a vision is a fundamental way of perceiving the world.

So what is the vision that underlies every action in our culture? Quinn says it has three parts, and defines it thusly:

1) The world was made for Man,

2) Man is destined to rule the world, and

3) the only reason we've not yet succeeded in doing so is that Man is fundamentally flawed in some way.

Quinn spends many pages discussing this vision and how it leads to what he calls the culture of maximum harm, for as long as we continue to believe that we can do with the world as we please, we will continue to reap harmful consequences on the planet and the entire community of life.

Once the vision is pointed out, you can see examples of it everywhere you look. You can see it in TV commercials, magazine ads, newspaper articles, news broadcasts, situation comedy shows, in schools, and in just about every conversation taking place over just about every checkerboard in every industrialized nation today.

Once you start looking, where have you seen examples of our vision at work?


Once, when the topic of Native American Indians came up, one lady said, "Oh, I'm just so tired of hearing what we did to the Indians and how we took all that land from them. It's not like they were doing anything with it anyway."


Another time, a man told me that the American Indians wouldn't have survived much longer if the white man hadn't come along. They couldn't have survived because of their primitive, "heathenish" ways. They didn't even have plumbing. We saved them, you know.

This sort of monomyth idea is explored with more detail (and nuance) in Joseph Campbell's tretise on human mythology, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It is also refreshingly devoid of the sort of moral or political perogative that is noted above. Mythologies tend to be richer than political treatises, imperialist-tinged Marxism included.

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