MYTHOLOGIES ARE INTERESTING creatures. Humans create them in attempt to explain their place in the universe, only to have those stories influence the culture that creates them. The real heart of myths is symbolism. Language itself, as Ernst Cassirer and others have explained, is a mythology, our attempt at communicating both tangible and intangible things. In this sharing of information, we are able to relate to one another.
Throughout our verbal history, whoever has understood language best has ruled over others most effectively. Language is curious that way—it does not necessarily equate to our beliefs or our actions, even though we can bend it to make it seem like it does. We are truly one step removed from language: it is a tool that we use, and, if we’re not careful, be used by. That is why it is actions that have always been the most important indicator of who a person is.
Rise of the Sun People is the outcome of a frustration with the language being used by American politicians, especially, and religious fanatics, the two of which are sometimes one. As I sit here writing hours before the only Vice Presidential debate of the 2012 election season, I’m watching the culmination of what has been four years of an incredible distance between the words politicians speak and the actions they take.
I have many friends from India who have told me about the comic books in which they learn their culture’s rich mythologies from as children. While it might not seem to be the case now, those stories—the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Vedas—documented the social, spiritual and political circumstances that were happening during the time they were written. I have decided to use a similar form in this book.
Unfortunately for us, a contingent of our citizenry has taken various mythologies to be ‘fact’ instead of the symbolic masterpieces they are. This misunderstanding of language, and hence mythology, has forced them to become much more inflexible than necessary, never realizing the harm they might be causing, or the new myths they are creating.
On the flip side, it is odd that Americans who have devoured the above Indian works, as well as accompanying yoga-based ones written in the same centuries, have lifted the spirituality out of socio-political texts, now claiming politics not worthy of attention. Even more unfortunate is that certain politicians enjoy this quality in us. Having an engaged and thoughtful public actively voting and taking part in local dialogues is not what one wants if his intention is to quietly pass backwards legislation into law.
It is odd that so many people who label themselves patriots fight against the very ideals that made this country great.
Yet here we are, very close to electing men who will roll back abortion rights, deny gays the right to marry, deny climate change, deny evolution, deny deny deny the beauty of what freedom actually offers. Some of them are already in office. By the looks of things, they aren’t leaving anytime soon.
This is my small attempt at reminding us what made America free, even if there are those who wish to put out the fire while claiming to tend to the embers.
Los Angeles 10/11/12