I don’t think we appreciate the stability and relative order we enjoy in the West. Instead of looking at the (relatively) rare terrorism incidents as reminders of what we’ve taken for granted and what so many of the world’s population are undergoing sunrise to sunset, year after year, generation after generation even though they deserve to enjoy stability as much as we do, we shut ourselves down.
We make it about ourselves and use it as an ammunition against the other. These things visit our shores not because of some mozlamic conspiracy but because our apathy has real life consequences. Whether we agree or disagree, whether we like each other or not- bullets don’t discriminate, nor does the climate or human crises.
I’m not trying to detract from what’s happening, nor am I downplaying the tragedies. But I’m merely putting the pieces together in a bid to retain sight of the forest, and not just the trees. Imagine if the bombing in Manchester went on for hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Schools, hospitals, playgrounds, malls destroyed. People leaving their entire history behind. People not being able to even give their deceased loved ones a proper burial because of the chaos? That’s the state of many parts of the world, and it’s imperative that we don’t take our stability for granted and that we don’t lose our humanity. If that happens, our disease will grow into a third world war. That’s what happens when we repress things – they appear in the world as fate.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who was a Russian writer and a revolutionary who played an integral part in undermining the Soviet Union and Communism by writing about his 8 year experience in the forced labour camps (Gulag) which he miraculously survived – both physically and emotionally, had this to say about the West and the critical point we are in atm, in a Harvard Commencement Speech (1978) called A World Split Apart:
The current Western view of the world was first born during the Renaissance and found its political expression in the period of the Enlightenment. It became the basis for government and social science and could be defined as rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the proclaimed and enforced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of everything that exists…
This new way of thinking, which had imposed on us its guidance, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man nor did it see any higher task than the attainment of happiness on earth. It based modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend to worship man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtler and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any superior sense. That provided access for evil, of which in our days there is a free and constant flow. Merely freedom does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and it even adds a number of new ones…
If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it.
It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding.It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times.
Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?
If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.This ascension will be similar to climbing onto the next anthropological stage. No one on earth has any other way left but — upward.”
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I think globalism and the influx of immigrants and refugees to the West is a sign of a huge paradigm shift that is happening at the individual level; the reintegration of our shadows, the parts of us that we’ve repressed and shunned. The parts of us that we project on others and hate them for it. The parts we blame on others so as to escape reckoning with ourselves.
All the tragedies and injustices that have occurred throughout human history can be traced back to an inner imbalance; either a tyrannical attachment to what one is and has, or a nihilistic apathy to life. The former being a symptom of an overdeveloped masculine energy, ( the logos- rational, analytical, distinguishing) and the latter an overdevelopment of the feminine ( the eros – relating, harmonizing, divergence) .
This has led to the overly rational West to shun everything that can’t be controlled or predicted – i.e. the realm of the soul, and this can be seen in the long history of wars and colonialism on their part. The underdevelopment of the eros, the feminine energy, has made Western culture devoid of empathy and harmonizing.
However, the underdevelopment of the masculine energy in say, Africa has led to the lack of integrity, organization, critical analysis of social changes, and awareness of self-interests.
In other ways, this manifests itself in the collectivist cultures where cohesion of the group is valued above individual boundaries and values. And in individualistic cultures, such as the West, society is atomized and centred on competitiveness and the distinction of the individual over the group.
By the breaking down of barriers by way of English being a global language, accessibility of the internet and in particular social media, and the efficiency of travel, we know have a world where everything has been pooled in a main space where we either have to discover that we always were interconnected, or we’ll destroy one another in our reluctance to change and transform ourselves.
This is beyond who’s wrong or right, or who has a worse track record than who. If the ship sinks, we all drown. And it’s important to keep in mind that what we abhor in the other – the bigot, is an aspect we possess too. And it’s in reconciling with our shadow and our demons that we’ll be able to de-escalate things just by virtue of withdrawing our projections on the world that recreates it in the image of our self-hate and fears.