Change is in the air, enormous change. We all feel it, but do not want to linger too much on it, because it is scary stuff. Even in the most tranquil parts of the world like Scandinavia and Australia, people feel the pressure from refugees who are escaping their fate, from Syria to Bangladesh, from Nigeria to Afghanistan. War, droughts, overpopulation have made life unbearable for hundreds of millions. We all know why this is happening: our species is out of control! Too many people, too much consumption, too much pollution of our air, soil and water and a predatory world economic system that pushes inequality of wealth and power to an absurd crescendo. Even the people in rich countries are getting restless and daily two hundred and twenty thousand are added to our numbers worldwide.
Voting Trump for president can only be understood in the context of fear that people have, the loss of identity, the loss of hope. And hopeless people, desperate people are dangerous people. They can easily be caught in the webs of ideologies who promise a simple, violent solution for their misery if they only follow their leader without hesitation or restraint. Whether it is the promise of Making America Great Again or the return of the Caliphate to rule the world based on the teachings of Islam, desperate young people, especially young men, will be prone to rise up and follow their banners. But these are the banners of death, they lead to destruction of life on a scale not seen since the fascists ruled Germany and tried to rule the world.
What is really happening has been predicted decades ago. The Club of Rome predicted in 1972 in their report: Limits to Growth, the collapse of human society, which is now starting to happen. The combination of resource depletion and exploding population plus the effects of climate change are putting more and more pressure on more and more people. The stress is spreading rapidly and we are nearing dark times indeed. The question is, can we still stop the world from falling apart in an explosion of fear, hate and violence?
It is late and we do not have much time, but it is possible. How? For this we need to go to the roots of our problem. The population explosion was possible because we developed science and techniques to harvest huge quantities of energy from fossil fuels. The benefits of science led to much higher food production and medicine to conquer disease and especially beat back child mortality, which then lead to the enormous growth in human population. But it also changed the structure of our communities with the birth of industrialization, the fast rise of cities and the acceleration of transport of goods and people around the globe and the homogenization of cultures, a staggering loss of cultural, social and religious diversity which till then had given meaning to people’s lives. With the publication of Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species in 1859 and Also Sprach Zarathustra by Nietzsche, published in 1883 our worldview, God got mortally wounded.
With Gods previously presiding over Life on Earth, a blanket of calm had been laid over our daily desperation for millennia. It was the efficiency of the God principle that helped balance what was not balanced. There was war, there was misery and death, but it was made bearable and was given meaning. Even the most powerful man was still slightly humble to an invisible master towering over him. God restricted man’s selfishness. Even kings answered to Him for their deeds because in the end they were awarded with the afterlife, death was conquered for those who abided by the rules. But God lay in a coma and a new paradigm opened up, material progress through science, a science so strong that even one day it might solve the problem of problems: death – and deliver the salvation that previously was the monopoly of religions.
But science has opened the box of Pandora and made the explosion of population and material wealth possible, all without the rules of the wise to keep its applications in check. Science ruled but in very short time its extraordinary powers have led humanity not just to miraculous progress and inventions, but also to the brink of disaster by producing weapons of mass destruction and with its focus on material goods, expansion and endless progress. Why? Because science demanded a radical change of world view to study and dissect reality. By separating the observer from the object, science objectified everything surrounding us, took the spirit out of the world. For all great traditions of faith all life was sacred and humans humble spirits within that realm. But to study reality, science needed to sacrifice the holy nature of reality, not understanding that it inherently would lead to destruction.
In our modern world view we simply pass by the most obvious fact that it is consciousness that creates science, consciousness is what shapes everything we humans make. But consciousness has been completely overlooked. And here lies the answer to our predicament. If we understand the nature of consciousness and its suzerainty over the outside world, we find the greatest force, the energy for change right within ourselves. All great religions and faiths have talked about the indivisibility of consciousness and that all life forms are temporary manifestations of that consciousness: you and I are waves rising from the ocean of consciousness. We increase and grow tall till we melt back into that vast ocean, what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. We are the world! We are all connected, not just with all humans now living but with all life ever!
We need a revolution of consciousness, because the fight we have to fight is first and foremost one to break the spell of materialism. Reality needs to become sacred again and people have to wake up to what is really important again. As Gandhi said: the world has enough for everybody’s need, but not for everybody’s greed.
It is as if Moses has to come down from the mountain again to shatter the golden calf. To tell people to realize how they have lost the way, realize what they have done, how the worship of the mammon has reduced them to vile creatures, roaming around in Dante’s Inferno.
We need to ask nature, life, for forgiveness. We have strayed so far from what is important, breathe, happiness just by admiring life, to be one again with all those wonderful colors and movements and dance that is life. We should be asking forgiveness from our planet and rejoice in humbly restoring her grace and beauty and accept our place in this miraculous web that is life. We need to accept the sanctity of all life, so we will not destroy ourselves.
I propose a movement to ask for forgiveness to our ancestors and the generations not yet born, to ask forgiveness to the old and magic forests we destroyed and the species we have extinguished or are about to exterminate, to the animals we now process by the billions in concentration camps for consumption. Let us kneel and ask for forgiveness and take an oath that we will protect life. Let us rise to the occasion and become peaceful warriors. Let us end this nightmare of our own making, let us do the honorable thing. Let the rich give up their wealth freely and joyfully share it to help life. The energy that will start flowing, the hope that will spring up like sources from a hill, will make us want to dance and sing again as a new day dawns and we can start to repair the enormous damage we have done and humbly protect that we are part of a fabric of enormous diversity of life, and we all submit our lives to that brilliant diversity of life on our beautiful planet. Let us celebrate the diversity of cultures and religions and nations as long as we see them as equal and none better than the other.
We the people, will have to form a movement that quickly grows, with people joining pledging their life to the cause, an oath that from now on preserving life is more important than the hassle of everyday life, that every act is devoted to our service to all life, the future generations, animals and forests, the oceans.
Let us come together like on a Gandhian salt march of millions who stand tall, proud and peacefully and above all still and silent to take in life and stare down the dark clouds that are coming at us. We are going to reverse the climate crisis, the fresh water crisis, the sixth extinction, the population crisis, the deforestation, the destruction of the oceans and the ice-sheets, in short the crisis of life on our planet. All these crises are connected and need an integrated solution, a solution of consciousness, the realization that we are one. Once the spirit of Satyagraha returns, the spirit that freed India from colonization and South-Africa from apartheid, we can hold up the truth to power by simply standing still in streets and parks and squares. Simply standing still will be the powerful demand of stopping the crisis. From Buenos Aires to Reykjavik, From Kyoto to Zanzibar, people simply have to stop and stand still. This is how we will gather the force, the will to avert the crisis together and peacefully.
Such a global mass demonstration of silence can draw the people towards hope and purpose and honor. The solutions are there. The plans of Elon Musk, Willie Smith, Edward Osborn Wilson, James Hansen and thousands of others can be implemented at lightning speed once we see that a life of sharing is better than a life of taking. It will be an honor, not a burden to be part of the transformation of the restoration of life. But we’ll have to be quick, because societies are on the verge of self-destruction and armies are gathering to divide the spoils of a fast depleting world. So choose if you are on the side of life and join!
“There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul, a total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
“What you are the world is. And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.” Jiddu Krishnamurti
Unawatuna, Sri Lanka, 17 January 2017
Illustration: “Silent Protest” flickr photo by Syrian Red Crescent https://flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3192562214 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license