In my last post, I suggested that it’s time for humanity to start moving beyond our differences, time for us to start learning to be human together on this earth. If it makes sense to move in that direction, what does that mean?
If we wish to be human together, then we have to pursue the full implications of what that means. It is more than just a feel good assertion, a well-meaning “I’m Ok, You’re OK” attitude. It also involves more than a cessation of hostility, a demilitarized neutrality of human relations. It’s even more simply adopting a cooperative stance in our endeavors, though that wouldn’t be the worst place to start.
If one adopts the idea of being human together, if one embraces it as the desirable goal of human unfolding, then one needs to aspire to its full realization. In order for us to be truly human together, we must make the world work for everyone. We must strive towards a world that works not just for a generic humanity but for each and every human on this planet.
It’s not enough to adopt a stance of “I’ll pursue my happiness and I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me.” That assumes that the world presents an equivalent field of oppurtunity for everyone. It also assumes that the ultimate pursuit of happiness is a gratification of the self, a topic I want to address in more depth at another time.
The truth is that today’s world doesn’t work equally well for everyone, it works much better for some than others. In my post, A World For Us All, I talked briefly about some of the people the world doesn’t work for and why that matters. And in The Sorrows of the World, I looked at some of the pervasive sufferings that persist in the world, focusing on avoidable sufferings that are to some way degree attributable to other humans.
The most glaring facet of this in today’s world is the economy. It would seem that even to the most casual of observers, that is from a simple phenomenology of everyday life, that the world appears not as a world for us all, not as a field for the common flourishing of humanity, but rather as a structure operating to benefit primarily a very small few from the vast human efforts of all.
I state this not as a moral statement, not as an indictment or condemnation, but as an observation of the way the world currently works. And while I don’t think that an economic perspective is the ultimate way to enscribe human unfolding, surely if we have a true appreciation of humanity, of the equal value and dignity of all humans then a world where the honey flows mostly to a small number of bees while the rest buzz themselves numb is a vast distance from utopia.
Though true human happiness can’t possibly be equated to the accumulation of material possessions, it’s also true that a global human happiness can’t be arrived at if the humanity’s harvest is reaped by just a few. Because our human efforts are our lives, they are our being in the world, our giving of ourselves to the world.
Therefore, our collective human enterprise, our common being together for the world, cannot be just a mechanism for extracting value for the desires of a few. The earth is not a possession to be owned by just a few. Rather it is the common field of human being. And our global human economy must be seen as a shared human endeavor, the vast interconnected enterprise of continuing our world and developing our human possibilities.
And if the earth is our common field, and the economy our cooperative endeavor, than the benefits of human efforts must be shared by all humans and not hoarded by a few. The world doesn’t exist just for a tiny percentage of humans. We must come to see the world as the common property of all humans, not the exclusive domain of a privleged elite.
This isn’t meant to be a diatribe against capitalism. It’s more to emphasize that as it is currently formatted capitalism produces certain anti-human results along with the benefits and efficiencies it creates.
The deeper point is that to enable true human flourishing requires more than just consciousness raising, although that’s where it must start. If we continue to power the world by greed and accumulation than all we do is perpetuate the division of humans against each other. As long as conflict is embedded in the human world system, both economically and politically, then we will be working against each other.
A harmonious human world can’t be acheived by good intentions or random acts of kindness. Not even by a blossiming of charity and beneficence, though they surely are a help. To reach our deepest human potential will ultimately involve reformatting the structures of the world.
This means creating a world where humans are not mechanisms existing to enhance the lives of certain other humans. but rather where all humans are equivalent beneficiaries of the human enterprise. It means creating a world where our status as humans is more important than our citizenship, ethnicity, gender or religion.
Of course, we humans can continue to tolerate war, conflict, violence, fear & greed. But then we will have to live with the results; we will have to continue to live in the world they create. And will have to continue to bequeath this world to our daughters and sons, to the great chain of future generations of humans.
But maybe we can begin to find a way to structure the world to enable us to live harmoniously in this world. Maybe we can figure out how to make the world work for everyone.
If we learn to truly see the special humaness of each and the common humanity of all, if we learn to fully value the lives of all of our fellow humans, if can learn to appreciate humanity as a process of consciousness unfolding within the universe, then maybe we can manifest a level of human flourishing beyond the horizons of our sweetest dreams.
Modern humans are only a couple hundred thousand years old. Human villages about 10,000 years old. Written history a few thousand, printing a few hundred and the internet a couple decades.
What we might become in 10,000 years, in 100,000 years, in 1,000,000 years. What would we like the world to become? What kind of world is possible if we learn to care about each other more?
Let us be human together on this earth. Let us make a world that works for everyone, and for all of our fellow creatures too. That is all the religion, all the ideology we need.
- Let Us Be Human Together
- An Edifice of Vast Inequality