First, a confession. It isn’t often that a blog begins with an admission by the author that he has, indeed, forgotten something. Yet such is the exact moment when I realized I was intimately connected to all others: to a victim of rape in Congo, to a displaced refugee in Turkey, to the mother of a fallen soldier in Pakistan, to every person on earth who suffers violence or want of a simple meal.
This awareness is certainly not unique to me. For the first time in history, people are experiencing this realization as unified humanity. Due in large part to increasing connectivity, the human race is suddenly and completely aware of itself, of our diversity and similarities, of our greatest innovations and deepest challenges. This intense globalization of consciousness has profound implications for how we, as humanity, make our living and how we govern. It is transforming how we live our individual and collective lives.
How will a change in global consciousness make a difference in our lives? When the human race reaches a critical mass for a common understanding that we are intimately connected, will it change our world for the better? Can we ever be fully aware that the welfare of our family and friends depends, ultimately, on the welfare of everyone else on the planet?
Indeed, what happens in Singapore or Dubai affects the lives of Londoners and New Yorkers. Rumor of war in the Middle East quickly elevates the price of energy and sends quavers through stock markets from Shanghai to Sao Paulo. Even something as regional as the weather in Russia can greatly affect not only the price of bread in Europe but also the availability of biofuels in Los Angeles.
Thousands, even millions of people, who have lately been categorized as the One Percent, are extremely adept at benefiting from the fluctuation of capital. Billions of people, those in the so-called Ninety-Nine Percent, are not quite as lucky. Humanity is aware as never before that we are intimately associated, economically, politically and socially, both haves and have-nots, forevermore.
“The association between inequality and violence is strong and consistent. The evolutionary importance of shame and humiliation provides a plausible explanation of why more unequal societies suffer more violence.” — Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, The Spirit Level
Deep in our collective hearts we know something is wrong about systems that have created such inequity. When someone is favored by law and custom or disfavored by circumstance and prejudice, injustice is lightning quick in its expression. Yet global consciousness is not just about how fat or empty are our pocketbooks. It entails a deeper understanding that the threats to our mutual survival are now global in nature: natural disasters, conflicts over resources, pandemic disease, sectarian violence and endless wars.
Our current systems are little prepared for the global challenges sure to come. With technological innovations in biological and genetic engineering comes the responsibility to predict the outcomes of our decisions. Our ethics, our moral philosophies, our methods of understanding what is right and wrong, are straining under the dire challenges of a future where uncertainty is the rule of the day, where democracies are polarized, where mass destruction is in the hands of individuals. Our government and economic systems are, surely, reflections of our moral foundations.
Millions still suffer from malnutrition and disease. Millions die from war and abuse. As long as there is gross inequality of wealth there will be terrorism. As long as there is injustice there will be victims who lash out with violence. And most frightening, the proliferation of the global arms trade — from small arms, land mines and drones to chemical, nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction — has extended the reach of horrifying violence into the sanctified safety of our homes.
What basis do we have to be optimistic that global consciousness will be a boon to humanity? We know factually and intuitively that if we continue to be diverted by wars and economic downturns from doing what is necessary for peace — such as educating our children and extending the healthcare and nutritional needs for billions — the consequence will be violence as our constant companion. Our globalized world is certainly a long way from a culture of peace. Yet there is great hope. More powerful than fear, our tendency toward commensuration and empathy is evident in the surge of nonviolent actions. Witness the astounding humanitarian relief efforts after tsunamis and earthquakes. The news is rife with massive movements toward democracy. Trends toward expanded rule of law around the world point toward a trajectory of global freedom.
One good deed may not lead in a straight path to another, but collectively we reap verifiable benefits. All actions are interconnected and interwoven. Our global consciousness calls us back to the ancient moral foundation that has allowed our species to thrive in times of the best and worst.
The wisdom of practicing the Golden Rule is more than a primeval clarion call to “do the right thing.” It is the two-way street upon which our humanity travels. Reciprocity, or mutual exchange, is the clear and profound operative of the Golden Rule. Its fundamental ethic is our call to peaceful interaction. An ancient moral principle passed down from generation to generation from earliest humans to the modern world, the Golden Rule underlies our common values and has allowed humanity to survive and flourish.
As the ethical prime of human conduct, the Golden Rule provides an ancient, genetically-encoded or memetically-transferred moral foundation to meet our challenges in the future. It is the dynamic energy, a conscious decision-making mechanism that when applied to our economic, political and social systems, results in fairness and sustainability. With depthless, yet understandable dimensions of mind, body and spirit, the Golden Rule is the principle that guides us from self-centered and bordered consciousness toward the expansive love that lifts the wings of our evolution.
DO FOR OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO FOR YOU.
This blog contains excerpts from “The Economics of Peace: Freedom, the Golden Rule and the Broadening of Prosperity” by J. Frederick Arment:
The Golden Rule Institute is a collaboration of International Cities of Peace:
International Cities of Peace website: