When Edward F. Edinger claimed Western society no longer has a viable, functioning myth, he wasn’t claiming we no longer have a mythology, only that the values and identity expressed in our myth no longer give us meaning and purpose—no blueprint for community. Set adrift by the exposure of these heroic, noble, and progressive notions as a particularly lethal fraud, what we are left with are remnants of an ancient philosophy at odds with the machinery of our modern states.
As such, while at the civil society level we attempt to make amends with the colonized and redress the ecological holocaust unleashed by our former convictions, at the level of governance and economics, the no longer socially-useful mythology remains. Yet, even within the new mindset initiated four decades ago, the residue of Western evangelism hampers us from accessing the sacred dimensions of our own traditions necessary for revitalizing our mythology within an increasingly multicultural world. For that, we will have to discard our carefully constructed hierarchies of existence, and become cognizant of our own cosmic insignificance—a task for which we are woefully unprepared.
As Jamake Highwater remarked in his book Song from the Earth,
It is usually assumed that all mankind has a common heritage and a common destiny. But there are many ways of understanding an event; and the very way we understand it changes the event which has been understood. The events of history are subject to interpretation. It is the form of that interpretation — its dogma — which provides a culture with its sense of identity. All peoples possess this framework for looking at the world and its events, but Europeans, convinced of the absolute right and virtue of their culture, have self-righteously set out to convert all other peoples with whom they came in contact. Their immense impact on the cultures they overran does not mean that all the people influenced by Europeans were necessarily heading toward the same cultural, sociological, and political destiny as their invaders.
“The white man,” Highwater observes, “may be more successful in transcending cultural barriers than the Indian, yet it is doubtful that he can grasp the premises upon which Indian sensibility is founded, and that must be an embittering experience for people who insist that mankind is both uniform and equal. We are indeed equal, but man is in no instance uniform — not superficially and not at the core of the mentality from which thought and feeling emerge.”