We keep hearing that the human race is in a process of transformation, or that we are “ascending” or changing in some dramatic way toward a new level of awareness. Of course, things are always in a process of change, but words like “transformation” imply a complete change into something entirely new. The image of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly comes to mind, but are the changes we are undergoing so dramatically different that the butterfly metaphor is warranted? When I look back and reflect on some of the most dramatic events of the last fifty years or so, I am inclined to say yes.
One event, actually a long series of related events, was what has been described as the “cold war” between the U. S. and the U. S. S. R. that reached a feverous pitch during the Cuban missile crisis. I can vividly recall being directed by our grade school teachers to practice hiding under our desks and covering our eyes with our hands while air raid warning sirens were sounding. Even though it was just practice, the thought of the possibility of what it represented was terrifying. I knew enough about nuclear blasts to know that the whole drill was silly; if a nuclear war did start, we had enough warheads to obliterate all life on earth. This realization further heightened my anxiety about mankind’s future. It is pretty clear that we have attained a level of technology that requires that we either learn to live together in peace or face the likelihood of sterilizing our planetary home.
Another incisive event was the images of the airliners exploding into the twin towers in New York. As the first plane hit, I remember concluding it was a horrible accident, but as I watched the video of the second crash, I felt like I was watching the beginning of another world war. In the following weeks I pondered over how easily just a few people, with a minimum of technical expertise, could kill so many. The point was brutally driven home how vulnerable we all are to any sufficiently angry group of humans, anywhere in the world. This was yet another lesson in the risks of modern technology.
So how do these events relate to the transformation of human consciousness? I contend that these realities and their implications constantly weigh on the minds of all of us. They are exerting a subtle, perhaps even unconscious, pressure on all of us to change the way we view our world. To see more clearly what I mean, consider mankind’s situation for most of the last few hundred thousand years compared to the last fifty years or so. Through almost all of our evolution, it has been the survival of our own family, tribe or nation that mattered. The exclusive concern for our tribe was appropriate and it was the best way to ensure humanity continued to exist. Other groups in distant areas of the world were of no practical concern. Our awareness was limited and local and it often was purely a struggle to survive.
The pressures exerted by our modern technology have forced a re-orientation of this tribal mentality toward what might be called a global mentality. In the last half century we have faced a reality that mankind has never faced before. The tribal mentality no longer works, and if we continue to adhere to it, we will become extinct. But we are smarter than that, and we are transforming. We know that what is happening in any part of our world is important to us all. This change from a tribal mentality to a global mentality is a huge transformation, indeed. Along with this change are many other mutually reinforcing and very positive changes. We are developing a higher valuation of all human life. We are beginning to see a greater propensity to share the earth’s resources. We are developing an ever greater concern for the environment that we all share. What I believe we are headed for is a viewpoint that considers every person on earth to be one big family.
If I am right, we are definitely transforming to a global consciousness that is completely unprecedented. It is a grass roots kind of transformation. By its very nature, it will not be created by a few leaders; it will be brought about by a new way of viewing the world on the part of average individuals who will demand appropriate action form their governments.
What do you think? Is this a naïve and overly optimistic assessment, or is it a fair description of what is happening all over our planet?