Martin LeFevre: What Kind of Revolution?
What Kind of Revolution?
After a workout on the track just before noon on the hottest day of the year so far, I stop at the park on the way home to cool off. Sitting on a log by the side of the stream, I put on water sandals and ease the body into the chilly water.
A minute later I am lying on my back in the shallow stream, the current flowing around and over me. It’s impossible to hang onto problems and concerns when lying on your back in a stream, feeling the current of life literally swirling around you. Memories melt away like the heat of a summer’s day, and when you look up through the emerald leaves gently swaying in a slight breeze under a cobalt sky, the cosmos draws you into its depths.
Nearly all “philosophies of human nature” claim an upward spiral of progress in human civilization. Accelerating advances in science, and the loosening hold of religion and tradition on the human mind, are, in these optimistic views, spurring the “evolution” of the human species.
But there is no such evolution. Indeed, the reverse is true; the human race is undergoing devolution, not evolution.
Rather than an upward spiral of progress, human nature and civilization are actually on a downward spiral of deterioration. We are not liberating ourselves, as disturbingly popular New Age philosophies pollyannaishly maintain, but rapidly losing our freedom and eroding the soil of human experience.
I’m not glorifying or romanticizing the past; for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of cultures, life has indeed been “nasty, brutish, and short.” But have our forebears endured all they have endured, and we come all this way on the backs of their struggle, to stare agape and heap adulation on “Brangelina” in Africa?
The main reason so many people have given up on humanity (even if they say otherwise, and even if they are the most committed activists), is that deep down, articulated or not, they believe that things are hopeless. People see or sense that the world is going to hell in a hand basket as fast as the mainstream media, government propaganda, and mind-control consumer machine can propel it. Whether they admit it or not, they think the tide is just too strong, and so they give up and retreat into personal pursuits or activist politics.
Must the closed system of converging cultures in the global society intensify the vicious circle, and thus the downward spiral of humankind? Clearly, without implying divine intervention or any such nonsense, something outside the human sphere will have to impact it.
Ecological destruction is synonymous with spiritual erosion, as well as the escalating precariousness of the world economy. The Clintonites had a slogan for the eight years of Bill’s presidency: “It’s the economy, stupid.” By which they meant that economic prosperity, or at least stability, trumps all other issues. The vast majority of people don’t care whether half the species of animals and plants on earth are destroyed in their lifetime, as long as they can go to Disneyland, eat Big Macs, and shop at Old Navy. But when, inevitably, the economy is severely impacted by ecological destruction and depletion, all hell is going to break loose, or there will be a turning. Or both.
But can ordinary people face the exceedingly bleak reality of an accelerating downward spiral of humankind? What choice is there? “Progressive” politics have become stagnant, and that which stagnates quickly becomes regressive. So what is an adequate response?
By completely owning one’s own darkness and non-accumulatively learning about oneself every moment, one can meet collective darkness with increasing capacity. The negative is then turned into a positive, and one is paradoxically propelled into quickening growth as a human being. But that still leaves the question of the relationship between the individual and society.
There are two trends, one apparent, the other underground. First, there's the downward spiral of humankind, with the vast majority of individuals (including progressives) adapting to the malignant globalizing culture. But there is the possibility for radical change. Given self-knowing, transmutation, and questioning together in a sufficient minority of people, when humankind hits bottom, there could well be a flashpoint where a revolution in consciousness ignites and quickly manifests, socially and politically.
This shift is not some spacey, ‘what the bleep’ amalgam of quantum quaaludes and paranormal piddle, but simply the shift from thought-based consciousness to attention-based consciousness. If and when a genuine psychological revolution begins, the curve of human consciousness —division, conflict, fragmentation, and violence— will finally turn.
- 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.
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