Eden was an epic event. Whether you believe it to be allegorical, psychological, anthropological, developmental, or a doctrine of absolute literal truth, I believe at least some of the following will still apply.
One point we can glean from this story of the fall, or separation as some like to call it, is that when we grasped to be like God [or our Higher Power] by knowing the difference between good and evil, we not only separated ourselves from God, but we also separated from each other and even our own selves.
Before that event, our relationship with Him was so close that the entire concept of being like Him was foolishness. We were already so near Him in our natural state that there was no real conceivable need to be as him, except for perhaps the desire of the Ego. He communicated with us. We understood Him. Only peace and harmony existed. Division among men had not yet been conceived. No issues to divide us had yet come into existence.
Once we fell and we separated from God, we likewise found ourselves with a new separate identity considerably different from the previous one. The consequences of knowing good from evil were more than what was anticipated. We now had a good and bad self. Judgment, shame, good and bad, right and wrong, fear, danger, reward and punishment all came into being.
Man gained the capacity to oppose God, other men, and even himself. The core of our being was fragmented. We could dislike parts of ourselves or dislike ourselves entirely. We compared ourselves to others and found ourselves superior or inferior. Hence we not only split from God but likewise from others and ourselves.
From that point forward, we based everything we see, do, and believe on that new flawed or fractured identity. The ego rose to supremacy, alone against all others and even somewhat frightened as our psychologists will tell us. It created a group called us for safety, protection, and support. It created the group called them as in those who are different or not among us, who are enemies, or at least potential enemies.
Nearly everything mankind has created from that point forward was built on that separation, that fractured personality, or the new renegade ego. All society, ancient and modern, reflects this with me, us, and them mentality. Society at large is the macrocosm of the microcosm.
Mankind has been trying to fix himself and his problems ever since and just one look and we can see how well he is doing. The us and them mentalities are so ingrained that if it were possible for one side of the equation to drop that mentality, surely the other side would conquer and destroy them. And that they must do, as it is the nature of the separation, the fractured being, and the extended fractured society.
The other side could not help but to continue the judging of right and wrong, superior and inferior, and reward and punishment. It must do so by its fractured nature. It is one of the bigger consequences of the fall. Man needs to attack others and defend himself. Attacking others is part of his defense. He is an ever comparing, ever criticizing, ever projecting, and ever judging creature. Just list all the judgment and criticism you hear for one single day. Write it down as the day progresses. It comes at you from all directions, work, relatives, friends, the television, the papers, and more. Also, add your own critical and judgmental thoughts to the list. You will be surprised if you can stay focused enough to do the exercise,
Man has a need to prove himself or his group right. Prone to violence, man will strike others to prove himself correct. He justifies his anger then justifies his attack on others verbally or physically. The cycle escalates. Entire societies get involved and the division increases exponentially resulting in fights, elections, murder, protests, and riots. The ultimate effect of separating, of creating us and them, is war.
Although the rate of death from war is declining since 1945, we have no guarantee that trend will continue. The Peace Pledge Union Project claims that three times more people have been killed in wars in the last ninety years than in the previous five hundred. My search on how many days there have been no wars in the past century ranges from 26 days to 45 days. One could argue that having a fifty-year decline during a historical surge is not the best argument for progress. Perhaps that is why it is said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
Before the fall there was no need for peacemakers. Since the fall, however, creating peace is a very difficult thing to do. Ironically, it’s a good way to make enemies or even get killed.
[Inspired by ACIM Chapter 5, II, 1-11]
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