Since the dawn of history, life has followed one particular dynamic, crudely summarized as “looking out for #1” or, as it is more formally known, “survival of the fittest” in an environment that is often hostile and unforgiving. Even though we have since banded together into societies and nations, this still seems the prime directive for our species — exploit the “other” for our own gain.
This was an effective, perhaps necessary survival strategy in the past— and up to now, the world was vast enough to tolerate it. But the range of social and ecological crises today indicate this is no longer possible. A fundamental change in direction is needed.
Growing numbers of people seem to recognize this, yet the proposed solutions so far are largely band aids to shore up the existing system. Trade unions, anti-trust laws, “sustainable” business, political activism, diversity training, rebalance the court, more environmental and economic regulation, reparations, etc. etc. — all of these are noble ideas, it’s simply that they are insufficient to stop our eventual slide into oblivion.
Let’s honestly acknowledge that we are at an evolutionary inflection point. We need to transition to a fundamentally new way of being with each other and with nature.
What gives me hope? Despite the complexity of today’s world, the needed transition is quite simple — just a change in perspective: cease viewing the “other” (be it a person or the planet) primarily as a resource to be exploited for personal gain. Instead, turn the flow of wealth-and-knowledge in the other direction, toward ensuring that every person and every other living system on the planet is nourished toward realizing their full genetic potential.
This happened once in the distant past when single-celled bacteria ceased competing and banded together to become the Einsteins, Shakespeares and Mother Theresas of today. Were humanity as a whole to collaborate in similar fashion, a new level of experience and purpose in the cosmos might be possible — one as far beyond our imagining as are modern science and philosophy to the bacterium.
Let us not destroy ourselves over obsolete concerns before that can happen.