World Ethos 4
Earth’s Twilight — Chapter 08.4
The call of the World
With our civilization on the brink of structural collapse, until the present generations of humans collectively answer the call of the world ethos — until we realize a systematization of the universal call of our conscience in a worldwide network that encourages and coordinates the transition to a new chapter of the human story — we are stuck in this grey zone with pandemic symptoms of anomia — extreme confusion, indecisiveness, alienation — which we learned in the history lesson to be unequivocal warning signs of a forthcoming wave of fundamentalism.
But what our conscience has really been telling us all along these last few thousand years — raising exponentially the voice at least since the last couple of centuries — is that humanity would one day transcend the cage of this mundane existence. This call — often misinterpreted and misunderstood — wasn’t just heard by the few famous prophets of the coming apocalypse: It guided the extraordinary evolutionary journey of human cultures, morals and costumes around the world, bridging them from peak tribal fragmentation of around 3000 BP to the global internet in a fraction of the time it once took homo sapiens to learn agriculture.
Life keeps transcending itself after the completion of every cycle,
on the large as on the tiny scale, and transcendence implies death and rebirth on all planes: physical, chemical, biological and ethical. Everyday life, for humans, was until not long ago mostly a tribal affair, and our morals reflected that kind of cultural isolation. In such an environment, everything outside the borders of the tribe was held as morally irrelevant (neutral) or wrong (enemy).
The shadow of an ever-looming enemy was the main moral justification for the development of militaristic and religious societies from the middle Neolithic on, and still today it’s the major threat used by nationalistic and corporate propaganda to distract the public opinion, hiding from its eyes the inconvenient truth that both politics and capitalism have become outdated social models.
In Keynesian economy theory, the morality of the city/state would counterbalance, in practice, the virtual absence of morality of the Market, by incentiving or by sanctioning certain practices, thus stabilizing the system and allowing some leverage to the central planners. What neither Keynes nor the central planners could possibly expect, was that the traditional morality itself would crumble, openly contradicted by the new world ethos.
- Inspired by the world ethos, many of us learn to recognize in every human being a brother or a sister of one, global community and culture. But meanwhile the states keep spending huge budgets on their military and diplomatic complex, build walls along the borders with less developed neighbors and engage in a covert machiavellian foreign policy in the interest of ‘national security’.
- The world ethos also reminds us that every living being is a creature born from one common mother, Gaia, and must be always treated as an end and never as means. The world’s natural resources are not for human society to dispose and must be preserved for future generations of humans and non-humans.
The capitalistic practice allows and even incentives the daily exploitation of billions of human lives on the shrine of profit.
- The world ethos affirms that the biosphere and the natural environment are a common good and must be preserved at all costs, and yet the law still sanctions the respect of private property and tribal inheritance schemes, while the advertising companies seduce us to consume more.
Hanging between the new and the old, most humans alive today are still unable to realize the full extent of the current crisis, its inevitability, its universality, its radical and unforeseen consequences:
- One is the collective dissolution of the traditional moralities in a common world ethos where the conflictual elements are forgotten and each culture remains as a mirror of the multi-faceted prism of human possibilities.
- Another is the upgrading of our civilization’s biased, man-centered cosmologies into One that reveals and respects the symbiotic web that connects humans to every other living being, by accepting and loving the natural limitations of the world, and with it, of the human body and spirit.
3. A third is the consensual sacrifice of the individual Self to the conscience of the species, this time not by repressing desires and instincts, but by dropping our metropolitan lifestyles and move on to smaller, sustainable human communities, organically connected in a world wide web:
the World Community, a model able to endure and thrive long after our individual deaths.
At this point, no activism to change the World can reasonably tolerate the use of violence to reach its objectives. In the last decades of the 20th Century, we understood that a traditional resolution of the human affairs, on the battlefield, stopped being an option since it threatened to destroy humanity in its entirety, leaving no winners or losers. As Michail Gorbaciov stated,
“Every human is on the same boat, and we’ll sink or swim all together”.
Even the class struggle hailed by the Marxist ideologies had suddenly lost its fervor, in front of the M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction) scenario of the cold war.
Violence, private and public, is a residual of the evolutionary phases when competition becomes, for external or internal reasons, the priority of the species. If today violence has become ethically unacceptable, it’s precisely because we are collectively realizing how useless a tool it is, how it’s only making our problems worst. The World Ethos — “the tiny, silent voice of our conscience”, as Gandhi would say — reveals us that
the only human way to solve conflicts, is to con-vince the other; if I try to impose my reasons, either with physical or moral violence, I have already lost, the conflict and my humanity with it.
The only way to free the others from the mistakes we attribute them, is to take on ourselves part the burden of pain they should be feeling.
“If you do that, I’ll kill you”, was the slogan of Western Civilization as it took over the planet. “If you do that, I’ll die” that’s what the prophets kept saying, from Buddha, to Jesus, to Socrates. According to Gandhi, this principle is not anymore an exclusive of the mystics: it must become the base on which to build an authentically human community . Its core strength is an unconditional and loving faith in the human possibilities, even when humanity manifests itself at its worst.
Eventually, the World Ethos transcends the old religions with an original faith in the communal interconnection that bonds together every human, and every living creature in its natural environment.
Nature is the open system we all belong to, this island of life floating in the abyss of space, our home, our World.
We realize that the only common god (cosmos, system, order, etc.) we can all relate to is Nature, and that a wonderful woman is such a better metaphor than the ol’ bearded man of recent record. God is not almighty, nor eternal, and isn’t always right. It loves us and we love her, and we are the same One. It’s the fertile creator of all life. It dwells into and all around our bodies, instead of sitting somewhere in the sky judging from above.
If we free our conscience from the fears and lies that hold it prisoner inside individual cells, we find that we are one living being. Connecting each other is the World Ethos, an ethereal electro-magnetic field that emanates from Mother Earth. It speaks in a language that all life understands:
it tells us we are all its Children, and the World is our home.
That if we respect and love each other there’s enough food for everybody, so we shouldn’t be fighting. And also that it doesn’t matter if we think we grew up and we talk of going outside. This is always going to be our home, and if we wanna eat tonight, we’ve got to tidy up our room first.
The old theologians and philosophers used to place this utopistic world community out of space and time, either at the mythological beginnings (the garden of Eden) or at the end of times (apocalypse). Today, the realization that a world community is possible and necessary in our lifetimes hits our conscience with apocalyptic force indeed, and compels us to place it at the very heart of space/time: now.
The World Community is already here.
Its reappearance coincides with the end of History, and the start of a new chapter in the human story.
The time has come when, not by the voice of the spirit but by the voice of the stones, we hear that the home of all living creatures is one, and that it can be saved from destruction only if, in a collective act of transcendence of the many traditional cultures and religions, a humanity inspired and united by the World Ethos will step up and take the helm.