The desire to have fun and enjoy their time amidst the struggle for existence and the need for rescue form the backdrop of William Golding’s celebrated dystopian novel Lord of the Flies.
What transpires on the formerly uninhabited island quickly devolves from a calm sense of peace and order into power struggles, paranoia, savagery, and murder. All amongst boys aged between 10 to 13 years.
The stranded boys become convinced of a mythical beast roaming the island and proceed to slaughter a pig and sever its head as an offering to the supposed monster.
In a delusional and animalistic frenzy, the group mistakes for the beast the only boy who sees through the charade and understands the true nature of their fear – and they kill him.
Their further descent into barbarity, destruction, and immorality mercifully ends when an officer from a passing warship descends on the island.
It’s a stirring tale that is often included on “required reading” lists for many high-schools and universities.
In a very literal sense, the novel depicts the “unholy trinity” of the ego thought-system: sin, guilt, and fear. The belief in scarcity, separate interests, an obsession with being accepted, and self-preservation drive the boys to cheat, steal, lie, and kill – all the while believing it’s what they needed to do.
But the ego lies. It is Lord of the Lies.
There was no beast that needed to be slain. It was a mistaken apparition. Simon – the one boy who saw through the lies – discovered the following truth right before he was killed: the boys themselves created the beast in their minds and the real beast is inside them all. And it wasn’t until an “adult” confronted them on the island that the boys realized the magnitude of their terrible tragedy. After running into the naval officer, one of the boys burst into tears over his carnage and what he referred to as the “end of innocence”.
The ego would have us believe that we indeed brought about the end of innocence. But that’s not true. It is only our belief in the ego that gives it all its power – and gives us all our unhappiness. Like the fictitious beast in Lord of the Flies, it was only the boy’s belief in the monster that led them into tyranny.
The holy spirit reminds us that our choice for the ego is nothing more than a mistaken thought.
Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. (T-27.VIII.6)
As we recognize the deception of the ego follows from our choice, we simply need to remember that we can make a different choice. One that results in a “peace that has no ending”. Anytime we are upset with anything, we can be sure that we’ve chosen the Lord of the Lies and instead can heed the quiet voice of the holy spirit, gently whispering, “My brother, choose again.”
Join us in Monday’s class where we will consider the depths of savagery portrayed in Golding’s Lord of the Flies mirrored in our everyday world as well how we can escape the painful consequences of choosing the ego. I look forward to seeing you then.