What do our identities give us that requires us to persecute or kill those who do not share our identities? The fixation on identities, the assumption that the world is made up of a collection of fixed identities often incompatible with other identities, violates the holism that has been discovered by all sciences from the 20th century to the present. The wonderful diversity of humanity can only flourish if it is embraced by a unity that we all recognize and share. To illustrate this fundamental insight, let us look at the complex problem of Israel in terms of the autonomous identities surrounding this history that has led to the current disaster.

In 1917, as a result of World War One, the British acquired Palestine from the former Ottoman Empire. The Balfour Declaration issued that same year in Britain pledged Britain to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. For centuries, Jews throughout Europe had been persecuted by Christians as heathens or as “Christ-killers” (by a Christian identity eventuating in the horrific violence of repeated pogroms). At that time the secret [Sykes-Pocot Agreement of 1916, dividing up the Ottoman Empire, awarded Great Britain imperial authority to dispose of Palestinian lands any way they pleased, and this Jewish homeland was part of what they pleased (regardless of the fact that millions of people were already living there). Some Arab rulers, as in Jordan, were also given special concessions by that agreement.

The Treaty of Versailles (1919) ending World War One was extremely punitive against Germany causing great hardship in that country. This facilitated the rise of Hitler to power with his focus on German nationalism and the unfairness of this treaty, coupled with an absolute racism distinguishing pure “Aryan” race from Jews and “other inferior races.” A German-Aryan identity, already latent in the German tradition, reemerged, defining itself in part by what it was not: not Jewish, not Slavic, not British, etc. This rising racism caused many Jews in Germany and Europe to immigrate to Palestine which the British had declared a “homeland” for them.

Their Jewish identify was vilified in Europe and was strengthened by moving into Jewish communities in Palestine, where they thought of themselves as “Zionists,” advocates of a Jewish state as a nation-state “homeland” for the Jews. Estimates vary, but in 1917, Jews were 6 to 9% of the population of Palestine; by 1947, they were in the range of 30%.

Armed Zionist militias would regularly fight Palestinian communities, often forcing them to flee. From 1936 to 1939, there was an armed revolt by Palestinians against this ongoing encroachment that failed to achieve any substantive change. In 1947, the United Nations attempted to deal with this conflict through partitioning the region into an Arab state and a Jewish state, a plan that was never implemented. However, on May 14, 1948, as the British Palestinian Mandate expired, and the Zionists declared the creation of the sovereign State of Israel. They engineered the Nakba (catastrophe), in which Zionist military forces expelled some 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands and captured 77% of the land of historic Palestine, with the remainder left over for Palestinians, divided between the West Bank (claimed by Jordan) and the Gaza Strip (then claimed by Egypt).

Perhaps most intensely since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, oppression and displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has continued, despite periodic revolts by Palestinians, with checkpoints, assassinations, military incursions, mass arrests of Palestinians by the Israelis, and continued theft of their lands and homes, violently displacing Palestinians with Jewish “settlers.” Very much like the Nazi ideology of German nationalism integrated with Aryan racism, the nation-state ideology of Zionist Israel interfaces with racism and distain for Arab and Moslem identities, resulting in relentless persecution and violence— and in violent opposition there is a counter distain of Arabs and Moslems for Zionism.

The clash of absolute identities results in chaos, war, and genocide. Just as the US imperial identity took over the idea of empire from the British, so too it took over military support for Israel, and, since the Second World War, has worked to make Israel a forward imperial, militarized bastion within West Asia and the Middle East. A fragmented world of incommensurable identities today threatens even nuclear war and the end of humanity.

The US imperial identity is no stranger to the violent slaughter of those with a different identity, such as the Philippine peoples in 1998, the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, or the citizens of Fallujah in Iraq. It has similarly had no qualms about unqualified support for the Israeli Nakbah and subsequent murder and oppression of Palestinians. And just as the ultimate consequence of Nazi statism and racism was the genocide of the Jews in Germany, so the ultimate consequence of Israeli statism and racism is the on-going genocide in Gaza. The violence of our entire world system can be linked to thoughtless identities: nation-state identities, racial identities, religious identities, cultural identities.

Political philosopher Michael Walzer in his book Thick and Thin (2019) distinguishes between the “thick” cultural environments in which people live in their communities around the world (their local traditions, norms, religious practices, and loyalties) from the “thin” universal cosmopolitan morality that all religions and most cultural traditions may ultimately share. He discusses the “I” that can engage in self-criticism in relation to its “thick” cultural-religious-national identity and arrive at some universal “thin” morality that it can share with all human kind, e.g., broad ideas about distributive justice, or truth, or the unacceptability of murder.

However, this metaphor of “thick” and “thin” fails to reveal that comparing authentic moral principles to cultural identities is like comparing apples and oranges—a major category mistake. Even though cultures around the world have a “morality” associated with their “thick” cultural environments, true morality, although mediated by culture as are all human phenomena, is not simply a thin cultural veneer intersecting the “thick” cultural identities of peoples and nations worldwide. Universal moral principles are a cosmic phenomenon, because every human being is ultimately a creature of the cosmos, of the nameless, divine groundless-ground of being.

What Walzer’s analysis fails to do is account for human cognitive, spiritual, emotional, and aesthetic growth. Many thinkers today, from Clare Graves to Ken Wilber to Carol Gilligan to Jürgen Habermas, have recognized such growth as fundamental to being human. Culture is internalized in persons who nevertheless can grow through egoistic, ethnocentric, world-centric, and cosmocentric levels. While no one escapes cultural conditioning, people can grow to interpret their cultures more ever more universally, holistically, and profoundly. This is not a movement from “thick” to thin but rather a movement from an immature “thick” to an abstract and more universalistic “fullness.”

Persons who have reached a worldcentric level of development do not have a “thin” morality. They may have moved from an ethnocentric immersion in their local culture with its inflexible identities to a world culture populated by the most advanced thinkers from a variety of religions and cultures, from Rabindranath Tagore, to Sri Aurobindo, to Confucius, to Buddhist master Nāgārjuna, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, to Mahatma Gandhi, to the Dalai Lama, to Dostoyevsky, to Nelson Mandela. What these universalist thinkers have in common is transcendence of the egoistic and ethnocentric levels of self-identity. Their identities have expanded, beyond ego, to the holistic embrace of world culture, vision, and commitments.

Such growth is integrated with growth in self-awareness, something for which quality education is often essential. There is a principle of transcendence built into human self-aware consciousness. As we move to self-aware levels of experience, we loosen our attachments that were there at the egoistic and ethnocentric levels. The "I,” or self-identity, is loosened from its “thick” cultural roots and finds in itself the compassionate capacity to identify with other perspectives, cultures, races, or religions. Selfhood does not become “thinner” but fuller—full of life, of insight, of wisdom, and of a capacity for transformative action.

We still, of course, draw upon culture to express ourselves, but it is now on that dimension of culture everywhere, pointing to what is universal, cosmic, morally informed, truthful, and beautiful. The moral imperatives for world peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability now become operative within our lives. We encounter the fulness of reality, the ecstasy of perpetual awakening, and illumination. We experience the intensity and overwhelming fullness of life flowing through our minds and bodies. The mediation of culture is always necessary when we try to express this direct, ineffable fulness, but there is nothing “thin” about the experience itself.

As my new book Human Dignity and World Order shows in depth, our entire world of capitalism interfaced with militarized sovereign nation-states is structured to promote egoism and ethnocentrism, that is, to promote immature identifications and to block growth beyond these to holistic fullness of life and well-being. A Jewish identity, a Moslem identity, a Christian identity, a Hindu identity, a Buddhist identity: a (gentle and loving) pox on all your houses! An Israeli identity, an American identity, a Russian identity, an Indian identity, a Chinese identity: a (gentle and loving) pox on all your houses!

It is not that people should give up their identities, but rather that identities need to grow in love and wisdom beyond fragmentation to holism. The awakened person lives in a “borderless world,” a world of freedom, love, and the fulness of living for its own sake. Such a person is therefore capable of embracing the religious, national, and cultural heritages of all traditions without being trapped in the limited identity of any of them. One can live through one’s own heritage in ways that join all humanity together in what Jewish thinker Martin Buber called “I and Thou,” loving dialogue and persuasion rather than hatred and violence.

How do we bring people to worldcentric and cosmocentric levels of awareness? There are many ways, but the most fundamental of these, in my view, is through the promotion of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. We must recognize that our world will only survive if we achieve universal protection of our common human dignity and rights. We must realize that our world will only survive and flourish if we achieve serious military disarmament of the nations, along with the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. If so, then we also understand that both working to ratify the Constitution and the final inception of the Constitution contain the keys to world peace with justice, freedom, and sustainability. The rule of equitable democratic law for all, premised on the principle of unity in diversity, will coincide with growth to a world-centric fullness of life.

The Israeli Zionist identity, combining an immature Jewish identity with an equally immature nation-state identity, ultimately results in genocide, for it operates on the same childish level as did the Nazi ideology, that combined German nationalism with Aryan racism. And these operate on the same childish level as does “American exceptionalism” with its brutal imperialism everywhere on the planet, touting a “democracy” that is no democracy and a “free trade” that allows half the population of Earth to wallow in poverty and misery. The Earth Constitution can help raise our awareness to a world-centric level and perhaps, beyond that, to the true fullness and wonder of life that flows into our veins from the heart of the Cosmos itself.