Thanks to Peter Willis for articulating that which has been sending tentative tendrils into my consciousness.
Like the pre-shock waves of a great tsunami (when animals respond by moving up to high ground), we are discerning the outlines of a new human consciousness arising in response to the forthcoming turbulence in human civilisation.
The challenges are well documented: food and water scarcity, climate change, increasing violence and crime due to desperation and a sense of hopelessness. It’s inevitable.
But how do we humans deal with this impending turbulence and loss? Physically we are well equipped: we have lots of forewarning (thanks to science), we have incredibly fast communication systems (effective in our response times) and we have a good historical knowledge database (we know from previous experience what works and what doesn’t). That takes care of the doing side of things.
And then there is our humanity, where our responses will be shaped by who we are, where our being determines our action. It is well recognised that the human spirit finds fulfilment in adverse conditions. Or put another way our lived experience is more important than the conditions we live in, so that by exploring our being dimension we can have a better experience of the turbulent times to come.
If we were to track human history against the growth of an individual we could say we are in the adolescent stage. We have an untidy global bedroom right now. It’s time to grow up.
So what are these signs of the emergent human consciousness?
The transition towns movement and its extrapolation is an early sign. We are also seeing a change in values, especially in the West, as indicated by an increase in altruism and philanthropy. It’s important to note that values change over time and across different cultures and are shaped by conditions of living. For example private wealth creating agendas in the face of collective struggle (e.g. WW2, apartheid and the forthcoming civil turbulence) would have been and will be unconscionable.
Where does Africa sit in all of this? How people respond to crises depends on communities and their leadership and in Africa we are seeing the emergence of a new kind of African leader in the form of Khama, Kikwete, Mills and Sirleaf. Are our communities ready for change? It is important that communities are not driven by fear but rather a genuine wish for a new spirituality. Historically Africa has displayed openness to transformation and new ideas. While recently researching Lake Ngami in Botswana, I learned that Chief Lechoalathebe requested that missionaries be sent up from the Moffat Church at Kuruman, a fine example of being mentally and spiritually mature to transformation.
If Africans can tap into that historical receptivity there is no reason why her societies will not make the most of the forthcoming turbulence. Blaming the West for everything won’t cut it; a genuine revival of that mature spirit, so well demonstrated in the past, will be required.
And it’s not only a one-way street where Africa does the learning – not at all. Before us we have a great opportunity for a reciprocal learning experience where Africa teaches how to live a fulfilling life without all the materialistic stuff , the desire for which has become so entrenched elsewhere. Many Africans live close to Nature, whereas other continents have lost touch with her. Through Africa’s teachings we can relearn respect for the environment and for each other. I remember being moved by a Balozi family greeting ritual where each and every family member was honoured individually with three kisses on the palm of the hand. If we can get that kind of respect back into our societies we’ll be well on the way to a new human consciousness.
The population issue is one that I’ve mentioned before but it’s a subject that can ably emphasise a shift in consciousness. Instead of seeing population control/self-control as a rebellion (adolescent term) against our innate nature, what if we saw it as a gift to others and to life’s biodiversity? The theme of self-sacrifice is universal and appears in most of the major religions. If we have issues around being dictated to, or controlled, what if we were to see population self-control as empowering and enabling to our children and to others? It’s also possible that we need a quantum of souls incarnate for transformation to work.
So some inner work is before us, where we need to reframe our questions, often widening them up, towards more openness and a new consciousness. It’s happening, and it’s easier to work with it than against it.