All of us want peaceful, productive, and meaningful lives. And most of us have a difficult time understanding why that’s becoming more and more elusive.
The trouble with us humans is that we have so much mental inertia that the very last thing that occurs to us is that our own mindsets may have a something to do with the elusiveness of peace and prosperity. We have accepted as ‘normal’ – unquestioned axioms about life – that we have to compete for better conditions; that groups will have unsurmountable differences and therefore each should stick to their own; that prosperity is a finite pie to be divided among the ‘smarter’ ones; that conflict is part of the human condition; and that life is short, and we might as well get the most out of it.
None of the above stands serious scrutiny, and most contemporary science has firmly disproved these assumptions, but so what? Who has the time or the inclination to stop and re-consider? We carry on and hope for the best. And when war suddenly erupts into our ‘normal’ lives, or pandemic paralyzes the world, or heat waves and droughts and fires devastate large swaths of the earth, we are briefly dismayed but then keep hoping to get back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible.
This is the delusional quality of our lives and mindsets that is not being questioned. And until we start seriously looking at it, disasters will multiply.
The impact of the war in Ukraine is giving us some excellent clues as to what humanity is being ushered toward, despite its general intransigence. When the war began, we had already accustomed ourselves to shutting our hearts and borders to refugees who had lost everything – Afghan, Syrian, and many others. We were protecting the prosperity of markets, not people. Then, as bombs started falling in the center of Europe and beautiful old European cities were reduced to rubble overnight, a shock of awakening ran through the Western world. Waves of protests this violent war swept through major cities, and hundreds of thousands of people left their ‘normal’ lives to run to the rescue either as soldiers or as humanitarian aid providers.
Fast forward to 100 days later, and on June 3, 2022, the Guardian ended its article on how the war is reshaping Europe with the words of a young Ukrainian historian and now sergeant in the muddy trenches:
“These difficult days are charged with a potent force, … a forging process… only studied before in books. Our company was [merged] with people from different socio-economic groups, from different cities, and all of them are very different. They have different educations, different professions, and right now we are together. It’s amazing to see how different people make this new social construction, how they discuss each other, how they are thinking about their future together … This is like the birth of a new nation.”
What is being born amidst the devastation? A new appreciation for the powerful possibility of genuine unity among people with very different backgrounds and beliefs. A new nation!?
How about a new world?
How much longer shall we wait before we re-examine old beliefs and put them to the test of our hearts? We could start today unless the suffering and destruction around us are still not enough to get our attention.
Pause and take a look at your own beliefs – about Africans, Jews, Arabs, Moslems, Bahá’ís, your neighbors, your boss, your president, an opposing party, your mother-in-law, the resources of the planet, your right to unlimited daily consumption, the purpose of life … Do I need to continue, or can you continue the list? Do you notice how divisive and self-centered your beliefs are? And, of course, you feel you are justified. But take a look at the result of these divisive, fault-finding, self-centered, consumption-minded attitudes. Do you see a connection between them and the oceans full of plastic, the bleached coral reefs, and the rising global temperatures?
The popular wisdom goes like this: politicians are corrupt and out for themselves, corporations are pillaging resources, pursuing profit without any accountability, so why should I not be out for myself?
Yes, there is a profound loss of faith. But we are still all in this together, and none of us can hold a candle over others. This painful learning is for all of us now.
We must begin to consciously cultivate new attitudes that lead to greater unity. We must take seriously all the science that tells us how completely interdependent we and all life on this planet are. We must create a new form of education – meaningful circles where we learn from each other about this interdependence and about how we can come to agree and work together across our differences. In these circles we can discover the common spiritual foundation of different religious traditions and come to respect and appreciate each other’s spiritual roots. We can examine thoughtful evidence from both science and spiritual teachings about what works for humanity and what doesn’t.
In summary, we must choose to awaken and live consciously together and rebuild this crumbling world.
Too grand for your busy day? Well, then you can march on into the heat waves and the killings of children en masse and the rising statistics of lost and overdosing youth. And leave it to experts to keep reminding us that the environmental crisis and the war are not the problem but symptoms of the real problem – our crisis of consciousness.
It does not take a Ph.D. any more to recognize that the only path forward from our current quagmire is unification in all aspects of planetary life – regulation of markets toward a regenerative global economy, of healthcare, of policies, of laws, of environmental impact, and of dismantling militarization. And most importantly, it is about us examining and changing our stories, and developing a coherent, wholistic, and normative framework for living together on this small planet.
Are you ready to start opening spaces for meaningful circles toward such consciousness change? Or will you wait for more tragedy?
If you are ready to do play your part toward the change so urgently needed, you may find a useful resource in my blogs over the past months. In each of them, I have tried to point out toward the opportunity before us. These ideas are developed at length in my recent book, Global Unitive Healing: Integral Skills for Personal and Collective Transformation available on Amazon and booksellers worldwide.
Elena Mustakova, author of Global Unitive Healing, brings a psychological, social, and historical evolutionary lens and points to spiritual principles and conscious practical steps that can transform collective despair into a path forward.