Friday, May 15, 2009

Pandora's Box

In Greek Mythology there are two Titan brothers who acted as representatives of mankind, Epimetheus (meaning hindsight) and Prometheus (meaning foresight). Prometheus who was characterized as cleaver and Epimetheus as foolish, were inseparable twin sons of Iapetus.

These twins were responsible for distributing the traits among newly created animals. Epimetheus gave positive traits to all animals until it came to humans, and lacking foresight he could not find anything more to give. Rich in foresight, Prometheus bestowed upon Man the stature of the gods, which upset Zeus who in turn denied Man fire. With such great ability to think ahead, knowing that Man would need fire, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to Man. This crime was punished by Zeus having Prometheus strapped to a mountain top where an eagle ate his liver every day (as a Titan, Prometheus was practically immortal, so his liver grew back every day keeping him in constant pain).

As for Epimetheus, Zeus created Pandora, the first woman, knowing that Epimetheus would fall in love with her even though his twin told him to never accept gifts from an Olympian God. As a fool, Epimetheus did not listen to his cleaver brothers warning and married Pandora (the curious one) who was given a covered storage jar and told never to open it. Because of her curiosity, Pandora opened the jar therefore releasing all the misfortunes inside the jar on mankind only closing it quickly enough to keep hope within. Because of this, mankind always has hope in times of evil.

What is to learn from this mythological tale is that we cannot act on either foresight or hindsight alone without suffering severe consequences such as opening Pandora’s Box.

In only using hindsight we are constantly stuck in understanding after the fact with no ability to see where we can use the valuable knowledge we have gained from the past. Relying primarily on foresight, we are stuck continually looking ahead and never understanding our past, therefore making the same mistakes over and over again. With our inability to see forward while understanding history, or looking back without any knowledge of what can be in front of us we become susceptible to the many traps life has in store.

The end result is that all we are left with is hope, yet can not act on this hope and turn it into reality because we lack the balance between foresight and hindsight necessary to move forward thoughtfully and with purpose.

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