July 10, 2005

Are We Evolving, Devolving, or Simply Revolving?

"Don't push yourself beyond your evolution." --Byron Katie

"The evolution of human consciousness" is the soup du jour for pundits of all stripes. New-agers, clergy, educators, business leaders, and even politicians have been addressing this topic for some time now. Most notably, The Dalai Lama tells us we are becoming more conscious, even as he instructs us in ways we must become "higher," through compassionate action and nonviolence. If we are to believe His Holiness when he spoke on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park in the fall of 2003, war is an outdated concept: in order to be compassionate we must care for the earth, and when we hurt another we hurt ourselves. 65,000 people cheered him on when he claimed that we as a people are evolving and becoming more compassionate. But are we?

Even in this time of war and economic uncertainty, the popular author and modern mystic Eckhart Tolle opines that the entire planet is waking up...and that our current craziness is merely a symptom as the intensity of resistance personally and collectively gets triggered.

Then there are those who have something to sell to the highly-evolved or evolution wannabes. They certainly would have us believe in an evolution revolution. (I won't name names, but folks who exploit "indigo" children and write books about "cultural creatives" come to mind.)

Where's the proof of this evolution?

We can argue that in the United States, we have championed civil rights in the last century, yet we have failed to abolish discrimination in our own backyard, not to mention slavery elsewhere in the world. People the world over have become more aware of dwindling natural resources but we continue to deplete and destroy them in the name of progress. In response to terrorism many of the worlds' citizens are committing hate crimes while waving our nations' flags. We wage war while paying lip service to eventual peace and equality...while companies in which our leaders have large interest clean up the collateral damage and rake in the profits.

Of course, these are cheap and easy targets to shoot at from the safety of my little soap box. It is also very easy to make feel-good statements about the evolution of the human spirit. What is more difficult than taking potshots or spouting affirmations is to look within and see where each of us, personally, is evolving...or not.

If I point fingers outward and speak self-righteously about the unconsciousness of world leaders and mob mentality, how does this help? In the end, I am left with stressful thoughts about a world that's a mess. This isn't evolved behavior. If I speak from a mountaintop, and I don't live there, whom do I serve?

Looking inward, I must ask myself where I hate, where I treat people unequally, where I take what doesn't belong to me, where I lie, where I promote wars great and small, against others and against myself. To do this as a gentle noticing, without self-flagellating, is key. We don't need to wage any more war, within or without.

In short, whether or not humanity is evolving is none of my business. Am I evolving? Only when I see the truth of my own evolution (or lack thereof) can I begin to make a difference by acting sanely...to be the peace I want to see in the world, as Gandhi advised...to live the reversals in which St. Francis instructed us so long ago..."Where there is hatred, let me sow love."

Evolution is seeing that what we thought needed changing "out there" was just a case of mistaken identity.

©2004 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

velvet lane said...

Lovely, true, and well-said.