The real possibilities of a new humanity are hidden from those who look only at the surface of the world situation, but they exist and only need the spark of spiritual understanding to fully manifest.
"If we all worked to deepen who we really are, the world would be a better place. None of us is better than anyone else, despite the twisted, status-based hierarchy we find ourselves living in. We are all human, we all feel, and we all fight." My granddaughter Cecilia recently wrote promoting a proposal to raise funds for a rehabilitation center.
My paternal grandmother Eustasia was born in Puerto Rico in 1868, her parents had emigrated from the Canary Islands. I was born in 1943. In my adolescence, I sat in awe and listened to her stories about, the Spanish-American War and the arrival in Puerto Rico of the Americans, the first automobiles, and trains. Of the trips people made at that time by boat and in horse-drawn carriages. Stories from a remote past, which for me sounded like fairy tales, in those times of my youth in the late 50s of the twentieth century, surrounded by cars, airplanes, television, radios, and telephones.
The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25, 2021. Seven months later, it sent back its first calibration images, from a distance four times the distance from Earth to the moon, from where it will orbit the sun and film the origins of the universe. It is part of an international program of the United States Space Agency (NASA), ESA (European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency. It was developed by a team of more than a thousand scientists from all over the world, over 20 years. Today the images from this space observing station are revolutionizing astronomy and cosmology.
Webb is designed to see infrared light, a light that is just outside the visible spectrum, and just outside of what we can see with our human eyes. The telescope would act as a powerful time machine, capable of capturing light, which has been traveling through space since 13.5 billion years ago, when the first stars and galaxies formed in the darkness of the early universe.
Our human species is a relatively recent production of the evolution of the universe. The "Phenomenon of Man", as Teilhard de Chardin titled his fundamental book. The human species appeared around two to three million years ago, as the result of the evolution of a universe whose age is estimated at 15 billion years. Human civilization as such, with its vast knowledge and ability to use and exploit its environment, dates back only to perhaps 12 thousand years, to the dawn of agriculture. Since then, human science and technology has created a superstructure over the complex web of Earth's nature.
Today, thanks to advances in scientific knowledge, there is a consensus that the universe is a unified field, a continuum of energy flows. Physicists, ecologists, cosmologists, philosophers, and mystics seem to agree on the interconnectedness of the entire universe, on a common origin, and on an evolutionary process. After my grandmother's death, my intergenerational conversations continued with my mother, who, born in 1908, had lived through the world wars and experienced in her own life a world of very accelerated change. But what worried her most was the loss of ethical values, a more corrupt world than the one she had grown up in, where morality was relative and there was more lack of integrity and honesty than before.
These conversations took place in the late 1970s. I pointed out to her about World War II, fascism, racism, women's voting, and the underhanded prejudices that had come to light in the postwar world and were now a source of conflict. We agreed that there had been substantial progress, in terms of human rights and the perception of equality and that many of the conflicts that were not talked about before, about sexuality and racial prejudice, were now in the public square and not hidden, corroding things secretly like before. And we agreed that it was somewhat better. That it was all part of humanity's growing pains into a new state of consciousness.
However, even today, two decades into the twenty-first century, in terms of the organization of our human relations, we continue to see an intensification of egoism; an increase in inequality and greed, vain individual consumerism, and a revival of tribal nationalism. This, is despite the fact, that the conceptual knowledge of our civilization is already capable of understanding the oneness of life and the interconnectedness of the universe. But this scientific and conceptual knowledge has not changed the worldview of the human community at large, nor its organizational or institutional principles. So, the mentality of every man for himself still prevails.
And just as there are those who still believe that the Earth is flat, in a world well known to be round, a large part of humanity persists in the idea of being separate and disconnected from "each other," and from the integral substance of life. And we are pulling the trigger of war all the time, and we continue organizing, following a fragmentary worldview.
The main flaw, in the institutional systems that govern us, is in the incongruity of the worldview in which they are framed, with the reality of what we are. This is where I think a change in the vision of the world, from new generations, will be essential, to achieve a better future for humanity. I think this is already just beginning to happen. Young people are beginning to see in a different way issues of racial prejudice, sexual preference, and adherence to nationalism. But the consolidation of a critical mass is needed, to set in motion a new impetus of social organization, which propitiates planetary consciousness as an organizing principle, not only as a philosophical concept.
Even glimpses of a new planetary worldview are being fiercely resisted by the forces of the world of the past, supported by fear of change and conceptual fundamentalism (religious and secular). Demagogue leaders, taking advantage of fear, and the modern means of instant communication, have created a powerful platform of propaganda and disinformation, full of crude conspiracies and hatred, which, in combination with the collapse of existing systems of political organization, has resulted in the seizure of power by these reactionary forces entrenched in the past. They also have brought the popularization of myths, which question the extraordinary intellectual knowledge humanity has achieved, and undermines the progress made in terms of human rights and the perception of the oneness of life.
Scientific discoveries are fundamental to changing the worldview. But most people don't fully appreciate these concepts, even though they incorporate them into their lives and the findings translate into usable aspects for everyone. Few understand how an internal combustion engine works, but everyone participates in the social organization around the automobile. Few understand solar power and electric cars, but once this technology is affordable for many and people see its benefits, another major change will occur. The medieval worldview could not deal with the Black Death, because it did not have a conception of bacteria, as the cause of the bubonic plague.
Today, even though most people do not know about bacteriology, nor how bacteria and viruses specifically cause disease, the public health model that is generally applied within the current worldview follows the required preventive practices.
A new paradigm needs to dawn on humanity at large, based on the recognition of the oneness and interconnectivity of life. The most pressing problems we are facing today and in the immediate future stem from failing to recognize the close interconnection between one's well-being and that of others. Existing operating systems emerged from a fragmentary worldview. Today we need to transform this worldview to one that considers interconnectedness, and the reality that we are all in the same boat. Inequality, uncontrolled financing systems, armaments, perennial war, environmental degradation, patriarchy, racism, pandemics, the crisis of the political system, mass migrations, archaic political and representative organizations, automation, and mass disinformation, are symptoms of this fragmented vision. Solving these problems requires a full change in our way of thinking about the world and a change in our self-awareness. We have to take personal responsibility for the whole system. Because as Deepak Chopra said in a recent article "truly self-aware people do not wage wars, stockpile nuclear weapons, harbor racial or gender prejudice, or degrade the environment on which they depend."
The problem is our tendency to organize everything around our selfishness, that is, everything is fine as long as I and mine manage, regardless of whether our destiny is intimately intertwined with that of others. The problems afflicting humanity are intertwined. There are theoretical and practical solutions to minimize the impacts of climate change, to eliminate the arms industry, to regulate finance, to end patriarchal societies, and to reduce food waste, etc. But they must be adopted as part of a new worldview, by current and future generations, on a critical mass scale that takes the reins of the new transformation.
We are not talking about utopia, we are talking about the progress of civilization in general, of a new humanity, a change even more drastic than the one that happened from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. A profound change, not based on technology but on worldview, a change of consciousness, moving from a perspective, which is selfish, tribal, and nationalistic, to a planetary vision of humanity, where people are aware of their physical and existential interconnection with "the other". It is not about replacing malfunctioning systems under the same worldview. We need a shift to something new, not just repair the old. It would seem that today, when the political and economic systems, both domestically and internationally, are either weakened in terms of their ability to unite the world or are unable to stop promoting the mentality of "every man for himself", the possibilities of a great transformation are collapsing.
I think we are just beginning to understand collectively, that the origin of our misery lies in our false perception of life, and that we are opening our consciousness to the fact that we are all a continuum of being. Although the news headlines do not announce it, initiatives around this positive transformation are already happening in many spheres of life, and there are countless stories of love and change. I believe that these initiatives and this new consciousness will expand through the human network. And that when they acquire a critical mass, nations, religions, and organizations, will focus on building a new future. Perhaps Teilhard de Chardin's deep intuition will begin to be realized, and we will see the story of our evolution of 15 billion years as a universe, and 3 million years as humans, as a process of growth, through which we had to go through, for this new awareness to flourish collectively.
Then, we would all begin to work, to fix the problems facing humanity, and we would all find a much greater sense of satisfaction and purpose, working on these "real" problems, rather than our old ego- and mind-driven purposes, which never provide lasting satisfaction.
This conviction, beyond reasoning, is rooted in that place within, where hugs and memories are born, and it leads me to imagine a smile blooming, on the lips of my mother and grandmother. And also, in those of my granddaughter Cecilia.
There is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. All are knit together in wondrous patterns of interconnection. (Pope Francis)