A little understood substrate of our collective seriousness is an essential silliness which, in turn, masks horror.
I plead guilty - I haven't actually seen myself within this trap. I am denying, if that be a useful idea, my near total incapacity to function either seriously or sillily when I come to sense my abject horror -- a horror without bounds which may be the ignorance or suffering characterizing the human condition identified by Gautama Buddha.
Apparently, by the time of Jesus of Nazareth, some collective awareness within the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean, required the sacrifice of God's son as an expiation of collective shame which is now simply a buyout -- quite appropriate for these times ironically. With a possible exception of residual animisms, nearly all religions now focus on some form of redemption of sins, afterlife as goal, etc. Being here now is not doing very well.
Am I isolated or am I more deeply involved? Perhaps a relevant question as long as I assume actuality being characterized by horror. Taking horror as the substrate of existence, the most pervasive of norms, how shall I mask it? At what levels do I bury my horror in order to play the relevant games constituting life in these times?
Among my guidelines has long been one: "The only way not to play a game, is not to play." Functionality, then, is denying the game quality of nearly everything humankind has evolved and is evolving.
Many admonish us to adopt a childlike quality in our perceptions. The story of the Emperor's clothing is one. Jonathan Swift, best known for Gulliver's Travels, and Lewis Carroll of Alice fame, set up conundrums penetrating the facades of our pettinesses. But few live within the available actualities of those perceptual contexts.
If we do, taking ourselves seriously is silly. Taking ourselves seriously, perceiving actuality as it actually is, that is, without dissolving into abject horror at the human condition and the evident consequences thereof leads where?
Within so-called Eastern thought, there exists awareness that we may have a lot of our ego-driven perceptions backwards. For most, life is predominant as a focus as is ego. All we "know" is this living.
The probability or possibility exists that death, as we call it, may be the functioning state of existence. Therefore, if one accepts ideas such as karma, cycles of birth and death; then it is possible that the critical intervals are those between death and rebirth rather than the opposite.
When embodied, incarnate, we are trapped within the consequences of our individual and collective karmic episodes from the past actualized in this present leaving little future beyond trying to avoid being so nasty this time in expectation that we may be influencing a future embodiment (assuming, of course, that we don't get off the wheel of life in the process -- that is, go to Heaven and no longer forced to endure the birth to death interval).
Taking these thoughts with a degree of seriousness, we may be lead to harmlessness -- do no harm, etc. Confronting our individual and collective actualities, however, reveals that practically everything we do is doing harm.