Martin LeFevre: The Last Trumpet
The Last Trumpet
A reader in the Middle East wrote giving voice to a central concern of this column. “There is indeed a spiritual evolutionary process taking place, but that process takes millions of years and our little bit of consciousness just can’t comprehend the enormity of it.”
His mistaken use of the word ‘enormity’ (which means “extreme evil or moral offensiveness”) belies the optimism that he intended to convey. The reader’s thesis is that “crises come and go and after each crisis there is a lift in human spiritual evolution.” To my mind, that is an essentially inaccurate perception of the human condition and the present crisis.
As I see it, the human crisis is coming to a head. The present “world chaos” isn’t, as the reader suggests, just another “dip in the very long road to enlightenment.” But how momentous is the human crisis? It is complete —a crisis of human consciousness itself.
Consciousness as we know it is only about 75,000 years old. Prior to that point, art was unknown, stone technology was simple and essentially unchanging, and speech, paleoanthropologists think, was crude and lacking in the diversity of tongues we know today. In short, culture, as we know it didn’t exist.
The human population had dwindled to just a few thousand people in East and South Africa, after a supervolcano erupted in Indonesia and rapidly disrupted the world's climate, inducing a massive Ice Age (perhaps as modern man is now triggering through global warming). The pressures on this small population of humans produced an explosive breakthrough in consciousness, a transmutation that yielded the cognitive capabilities that define us as human, which in turn formed the world as we know it, for better and worse.
My thesis is that though there are seven billion (plus or minus a few hundred million) people on earth now, the self-made pressures from those cognitive capabilities that emerged about 70 millennia ago are putting as much pressure on the individual to radically change as the supervolcano did at the dawn of ‘modern man.’
Can a transmutation in the individual and a revolution in consciousness that changes the basic course of humankind actually occur at this time?
If the next stage of human beings is as different from modern humans as modern humans were from the proto-humans (who looked the same), then what are the characteristics of the new consciousness? Whereas separation and division are the hallmarks of modern humans, awareness and insight are the hallmarks of human beings.
In even human evolutionary terms, the time periods we’re talking about are brief, only a factor of 6 or 7 older than recorded history. And to the extent that our evolutionary and recorded history becomes an open book to us, time scales shrink much more. Combine that positive trend with the negative pressures from global warming, worldwide terrorism, as well as the dangers from rogue superpowers such as America and China, and the fault lines come into sharp relief.
As I see it, humankind has a limited number of chances to change course, and this might well be the last one. Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed did not change the basic course of humankind. No person, group, or generation has. Indeed, with the exception of Siddhartha, who ignited a transformation in the individuals and culture of his time, those and other great teachers represent lost opportunities for humankind to move in a new direction altogether. Jesus certainly failed in his mission, though of course the failure wasn’t his but that of his disciples and the people of his time.
I feel we have to presume that this is the last chance for humankind to change course, either until the revolution actually ignites, or it’s certain that it’s not going to occur at this point in history. Only afterward will we be able to see whether this juncture was the last chance or not. To think otherwise is to erroneously obtain solace in the comforting idea of a bright future for humanity.
Without radical change in the individual and society, the future will be like today, only more so. When one feels the enormity of the crisis, that perception summons all one’s energies and capacities to meet the enormous challenge posed to us in our lifetimes.
A diagnosis is not a prognosis. It may well be that in seeing that we and our children and their children can be lost forever, enough of us will awaken to finally, ‘at the last trumpet,’ change course. But when it all is said and done, all any of us can do is awaken and transform ourselves with an eye to the whole of humanity.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: email@example.com. The author welcomes comments.