by Ross Bishop
An anthropologist proposed a game to a group of African children. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first would win the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, instead of charging to the goal as Western children would have, running individually, they all took each others hands and ran together and then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one person could have had all the fruit for themselves, they said: UBUNTU, “How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
UBUNTU in the Xhosa culture means:
“I am because we are”
The future that is coming will be unlike anything we have ever seen. In the past, even when we have made significant social or political transitions, people’s daily lives didn’t change that much. Democracy eliminated the rule of kings, but people still went about their daily lives. Farmers farmed and cobblers cobbled. In those days, changes also took a long time to percolate through the society, so the adjustment wasn’t such a big shock. For example, both democracy and Christianity took hundreds of years to take hold.
The change that is coming will not be like that. This time around, people are simply going to walk away from the old ways. Consider “The Arab Spring” or the “Occupy” movements. Powerful social transitions that defy the old “rules” of how things change. The “Occupy” movement is so different that the establishment still doesn’t know what to make of it.
Societies exist primarily by the support of the governed. Without that support, everything simply grinds to a halt. In the present transformation, and it is already underway, people will simply “opt out” of the old ways of doing things. The “new way” will actually be a “walk back” as people reject the ideas of the last several hundred years in favor of ancient concepts that the industrial age has shouldered aside.
There is in every one of us a part of us that holds God’s Truth. You know it as your conscience. Your conscience resonates with natural law – qualities like compassion and honesty. As you know, when you feel insecure, you can shut this inner voice down. Being loving or compassionate requires taking a risk – you might be rejected – and you must feel reasonably OK about yourself to do that. And, in the past we have been reluctant to make ourselves that vulnerable. We have imprisoned this consciousness within ourselves because we have been reluctant to let our natural selves be exposed. As a result of the void created by its absence, greed, narcissism and the lust for power have taken over and have flourished.
But we are evolving, and evolution has brought us to a place where people are beginning to feel safe enough to allow more of their true selves to manifest. This is not some political creed that people have to be convinced to accept, these forces simply rise up from the core of each individual. Today, the collective energy of global higher consciousness is changing whole societies from the inside. In many different ways from 7 billion people, conscious of it or not, the collective consciousness of the planet is shifting and creating a global tsunami of change as people simply reject the values of domination, manipulation, dishonesty and greed.
The coming changes are inevitable. This is largely because so many of our present values run completely contrary to Universal Law. This will become apparent if you compare our present culture with the principles God has given to us over the centuries. The present culture has failed to create harmony with the natural order and bring humanity up out of the spiritual cellar. It makes consumers of them instead. There isn’t space here to discuss all the inconsistencies, so I will just highlight some of the more significant ones.
Jesus taught us to love one another, and although we are doing much better than we used to, we still have a ways to go. Just ask gays, blacks, Hispanics or other minorities what it is like to live in an Anglo-Christian dominated culture. Conversely, ask Chrisitians what it is like to live in the Middle East. Globally, the world is too often a place of economic repression and racial or ethnic bloodshed and conflict.
At the Last Supper, Christ gave us a new commandment (think about that word). He said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Each day, around the globe, fifty thousand people die needlessly, in addition to those killed by violence. Eighteen thousand of those will be young children who will simply starve to death. Twenty one thousand more, all under five years of age, will die from preventable diseases – by midnight tonight. Tomorrow it will be the same. I am not here to pitch for UNICEF or Oxfam, but to make you aware of our failure, yours and mine, to look after those who are in need. And, God told us to do that! We ignore His teaching. We forget that these are not mere suggestions! More about that in a minute, but in the meantime, you might want to ask yourself, “How am I doing in the ‘love your brother’ department?”
Today there are tons of stored food – the gift of God’s abundance – that could easily feed these people. But they have no “money” with which to buy it. So instead, we let them starve to death. In that same light, a tiny fraction of the money we spend on the military would purchase all the medicines these people need. Instead, we let them die. We skate on thin ice, without realizing it.
In The Sermon on the Mount, Christ warned about the accumulation of wealth – something conveniently and consistently overlooked in pulpits for years. Matthew reported Christ’s words:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”
The lust for money is seductively corrupting. It is that simple. Christ taught,
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
We ignore those teachings because in a fear-based culture, security is important. But as we transition from a society based in fear to one based in compassion, those behaviors will change.
As far as I can tell, in addition to the first Christmas presents – the gifts from the Magi, all Christ ever owned was a robe, a walking stick and a pair of sandals. I suppose he also had a blanket. Any money He received would have gone to the poor. Today we would call him a homeless person and He would probably be sleeping in freeway underpasses. In India, when you cook food, you give some to the poor because you know the saints will be living amongst them. . .
And that brings me to the subject of our economic system. Economics is built on the premise of a few men profiting from other’s lack. The idea that a few men living in obscene wealth because they have been able to manipulate others out of their homes or their savings, is an affront to God and the fundamental premise that God’s abundance is given to us to be shared.
Corporations exist by cannibalizing the future for their own greed. They pillage the planet’s resources so they might prosper. Exxon does not care about you or the future of the planet. They want to sell you gasoline at the highest possible prices. Monsanto does not give a damn that it is poisoning the planet and creating millions of cancers, their executives will be long gone by then.
As I write this, we are approaching a number of important environmental tipping points driven by industrialized society, from which we may be unable to recover. The most significant of these is global warming – which has been effectively resisted by industry for years as they once again, sacrifice our children for their own ends.
Credible experts tell us that we are approaching a point of no return, when the damage done to the environment from global warming will be irreversible. If we achieve an increase of 4.5°C by 2100 by all accounts there will be a global catastrophe. We are already on track for a 3°C change, and we have 88 years yet to go! Global warming increases every day without mitigation. The planet has not been this warm for thirty million years.
In a fear-based society, everyone wants their comforts and they tend to ignore the collective impact of their choices. Today, for example, landfills are choked with recyclables. Many global fisheries are so depleted they will never recover. Great coral reefs that sustain ocean life are rapidly disappearing. Once rich farmland blows away in the wind because there is no longer anything to hold it together. Old growth forests, the lungs of the planet, are being ripped out for lumber and cattle grazing. The planet is being desecrated for money.
Fresh water is being consumed faster than it can be replenished. The air in some cities in China is so foul you choke on it. And here at home, does it really make sense to pay some banker $900,000.00 to purchase a $500,000.00 home?
The other great failing of the economic system is the modern version of slavery. Not with chains and whips like back in the day, but with modern chains like wages, benefits and health insurance. Factories in China or Southeast Asia are careful these days not to be labeled as sweatshops, but their practices are incredibly abusive, nonetheless. But they do produce cheap electronics.
Walk into any office or factory in the U.S. and ask the employees to honestly tell you if they wouldn’t really rather be off doing something else. The whole concept of wages is to entice people away from what they would really rather be doing. You’ve probably worked for a corporation and you know. . .
I could go on – Wall Street corruption, greedy physicians, corrupt politicians, heartless accountants, lying generals, dishonest bankers. . . We have been flying so far outside God’s radar that we have completely lost touch with reality. . . It is amazing that we have not crashed and burned before this! And by the way, if you’ve had any difficulty understanding why Muslims are so upset with Western society, reread the previous paragraphs. And I know, they aren’t perfect either. . .
But as I said, change is happening. You have read about The Arab Spring, but while most of the world was focused on the Middle east, the countries of South America for example, have undergone remarkable social and economic transformations. Sweden has virtually transformed itself overnight. There are many more local examples like the women of Bangladesh doing microcredit loans, the women of the former Tibet or the dramatic social revolution in the city of Quebec. These movements will gain momentum and be joined by similar efforts occurring all over the globe.
There are many of you who have already begun to experience the energies of change. Things are happening, old stuff is starting to tumble out. Issues that have been ignored for years are surfacing. But, if you notice, they are not creating the drama and turmoil they would have in the past. Have you been waking up at 3 AM lately? Many people have. Those are waves of transitional energy.
It will take more to release stubbornly entrenched negative energy. Greed and corruption still have a good deal of traction, but each day their grip on society weakens as people loose confidence in their ability to function in the greater public interest. The infrastructure of social support that has sustained them will simply melt away.
But with all this bad news, where can we look for hope? in many places around the globe things are already happening – Bahrain, Lybia, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sweden and Quebec just for starters. In this country consider Kickstarter, Zipcar, Shareable, Etsy, Kiva, Prosper and Airbnb. These and other “collective consumption” companies are part of a new economy that is being born from the inability of traditional businesses to meet people’s evolving needs. This sharing economy is based on the idea of people coming together to create their own markets (Airbnb), their own products, (Etsy), and their own currency (TimeBanks).
These organizations rely on shared needs, trust, and the belief that the group is stronger than the individual. Most of these efforts will fail, but the legacy they are creating will shape the future. Today it is possible to see the quiet revolution almost everywhere: from sharing cars, to online networking and babysitting co-ops. This new shared market economy is being driven by a quiet revolution: millions of Americans who no longer want to prop up a faltering economy with endless and thoughtless consumption. They want to spend their limited income in a responsible, thoughtful, and connected way. They want to feel good about where their money is going, and they are doing it without government support or endorsement. And this is only the economic aspect of the new equation.
The immense frustration people feel today with a corrupt political and corporate system will lead to dramatic reforms. In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do to begin making a difference. These are from a blog post of mine called Conscious Living:
THINGS WE ALL COULD BE DOING
1. Hang out your laundry.
2. Eat meatless one day a week.
4. Use Eco-friendly cleaners, laundry detergent, dish soap, recycled paper products.
5. Use your own shopping bags.
6. Eat organic.
7. Plant a garden!
8. Save vegetable kitchen scraps (freeze them) for soup stock or bury them in the garden.
9. Shop at the Farmer’s Market.
10. Buy whole unprocessed food.
Remember: Gandhi changed a great nation without firing a shot. It can be done!