In the ‘allegory of the long spoons’ a sage has a dream in which they first see hell and then see heaven. The sage reports that in hell the inhabitants sit around a table on which there is delicious food but they have all been given very long spoons that they cannot bring to their mouths, so they are all starving and frustrated. A questioner asks the sage to say what heaven was like. The sage replies that the situation is very similar in heaven; there too the inhabitants have been given long spoons with which they cannot feed themselves. ‘Then what is the difference?’ asks the questioner. ‘In heaven they feed each other.’ replies the sage.
Heaven and hell are created by us for each other. It is not a matter of circumstance but of how we respond to circumstances. We can cause others to suffer, through indifference or deliberate cruelty, or we can recognise that we sit at the same table and make sure that everyone eats. When we could feed ourselves we did not bother about those who had nothing to eat. Now we cannot feed ourselves we begin to learn that everyone must take care of everyone else. If we remember rightly the lessons that hell teaches we may create heaven.
Chris Hedges is making much the same point when he says that the ethic we return to needs to be the communal ethic that says ‘everyone eats or no one eats’. Chris has little hope for the future of humankind but offers this little hope as something that might make it possible for some communities to sustain themselves ‘at least for a while’.
The full XR interview with Chris Hedges and my comments can be viewed from my post Chris Hedges: Coronavirus.
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