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The False Diversity Of Identity

Few people are willing to question their worldviews. But doing so is one of the most important things a true individual can do in this age of chaos.

At bottom, the implicit attitude we hold about humankind’s relationship to nature is the most important element of our worldview.

It can be expressed in a single sentence. For example, Pascal, the 17th century mathematician and theologian, said, “When the universe has crushed him, man will still be nobler than that which kills him, because he knows he is dying, and of its victory the universe knows nothing.”

His incongruous view of death and man’s nobility notwithstanding, Pascal’s notion of a coldly indifferent universe persists. His conception of an essentially random, mechanistic universe remains the unquestioned cornerstone of the scientific and technocratic worldview.

Clearly we need a redefinition of humanity’s relationship to nature. Because once the idea of man as God’s special creation fell onto the rubble heap of history (except for fundamentalist and nationalist Christian holdouts), it’s a few short steps, in a supposedly chaotic universe of pure chance, to viewing humankind as a cancer upon the earth.

Though Pascal had some good insights, the idea that the universe is a completely random mechanism could not be further from the actuality. Anyone who has spent time alone in the wilderness realizes that nature, while utterly indifferent to one’s survival, is permeated with a profound intelligence beyond the mind of man.

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And the wilderness -- what’s left of it on earth -- is an expression of the universe. Life on this planet is not an exception -- the universe gives birth to life just as it gives birth to stars and planets.

What’s more, the universe is not only “fine tuned” for life; it is fine tuned to bring about fully consciousness beings. Indeed, the cosmos is conscious in a way we cannot know or imagine. However there is an experiencing of cosmic consciousness when the mind is attentively silent.

Given the potential of the human brain to consciously perceive the immanent intelligence of nature and the cosmos, why is man such a noisy and rapacious creature?

The naturalist John Muir pointed to the remedy for the individual: “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” That’s a far cry from nature as a playground, or stage set for sports.

Even if our age is irredeemable, we can gain insight into the roots of man’s destructiveness within us, thereby endowing a future for humanity.

Pascal preceded and presaged the Age of Enlightenment, with its faith in human reason and the perfectibility of man. What would he and other Enlightenment founders think of our cynical age, beset with increasingly urgent global problems exacerbated by persistently atavistic tribalistic identification?

In America, the inadequacy of the response to the crisis of human consciousness has given rise to widespread misanthropy in New Age circles, which is disguised as humility. Indeed, misanthropy has gone mainstream, with shows like “Life After People,” promulgating an apocalyptic undercurrent. “Life After People” is “a television documentary series where scientists, structural engineers and other experts speculate…about what the Earth might be like if humanity instantly disappeared, and the [beneficial] impact humanity’s disappearance might have on the environment.”

That’s a prevalent worldview that has emerged as the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, giving rise to the progress of science and technology, collide with ecological and socio-political breakdown. Seeing no way ahead except in the defunct terms of reason, science and technology, localism is seen as the path to wholeness, and old or new identities take the place of true diversity.

The world is quickly becoming homogenous, a shrinking space of self-interest. Culture, religion and nation have become either tourist streamers or enclosures of emptiness, parodies of the cohesive forces they once were.

Failing to see the depth and extent of the challenge, the idea that “people in different nations, even people within nations, have become less alike in at least as many ways as they have become more alike” has taken hold. At the very least, such sophisticated stupidity belies an incredible shallowness of perception and thinking.

Not only is the crisis of the commons and human consciousness as a whole increasingly undeniable, but people with means and leisure anywhere in the world are becoming interchangeable individualists pursuing the same self-centered angles.

Therefore it’s moronically superficial for intellectuals and pundits to say that the world feels different depending on what nation you’re in. People have always been essentially the same under the superficial differences of ethnicity, culture and nation. The difference in our age is a growing multi-faceted global crisis that’s shared by everyone.

In an inverse and perverse way, the world has become one, shaped by the borderless climate and extinction crisis.

Martin LeFevre

© Scoop Media

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