Humanity In Crisis
As a humanity, we have been on a purposeful path of development. In the industrial era, we acquired our most distinct and empowered sense of self as material beings. Feelings of existential separation from nature and the universe were essential for us to realize our current degree of differentiation and development, integral to our learning and maturation as a species. Yet it appears we now find ourselves at the doorstep of a humanity in crisis.
The Great Separation
The agricultural and industrial revolutions have produced the most differentiated, individuated, and separated beings the world has ever known. It has also taken us to the greatest degree of ego development, empowering us with identities as sensing, feeling, and thinking individuals. The industrial era mindset, however, can leave us feeling disconnected from the living universe (thinking of it as non-living), disconnected from one another (thinking we are existentially separate), and disconnected from our soulful vitality (thinking our soul does not exist). Our imagined separation is a source of profound suffering- and a powerful motivation to continue our journey of awakening to become whole with ourselves and the universe. We are now challenged to change direction and reconnect with the living universe and the enduring aliveness within ourselves.
Today, there is a profound lack of meaning and spiritual emptiness in modern life. We have a humanity in crisis, a crisis of meaning, and a need to find a way to get past our overwhelming spiritual, psychological emptiness. Society has lost its soul in the midst of this deep spiritual, psychological emptiness, and alienation in a life devoid of meaning, purpose, or transcendent values (spiritual, moral, or aesthetic). Journeying so far from the nurturing life force of a living universe has brought alienation and anxiety.
Today's Situation: Systemic Crisis
Today as a humanity we have a global systemic crisis with the following characteristics:
We have a Consumerist Culture in which a lack of meaning combined with a mindset of scarcity leads to materialism. This culture is driven by crisis of meaning, spiritual alienation & emptiness. In an environment in which we have little meaning, more is better in an unbridled consumer culture. We are consumers, not citizens. The Natural Step says that we have two crises: crisis of meaning (to find a way past the overwhelming spiritual and psychological emptiness of modern life) and environmental crisis (to preserve and sustain life of the planet), which go hand in hand.
We are driven by a Scarcity Mindset in which there is not enough to go around and someone somewhere will always be left out, so we accumulate more than we need to ensure that we and ours are OK. This false mindset of scarcity engenders an us vs. them mentality.
Divide between Rich and Poor
We have a yawning Divide between Rich and Poor with much of our population in a debt and interest trap, unable to escape.
The instability in society is driven by the rich-poor gap, with 80% of the world’s resources in the hands of 20% of the population, and poverty has not diminished in absolute numbers, as the population of poor countries is increasing. This depresses the life and even the chances of survival of the poor, while placing wealth in the hands of the rich beyond any possible use in satisfying the real requirements of their life. Poverty is due not to the inadequacy of the planet’s physical and biological resources but rather to the faulty functioning of the system that processes and distributes them.
Climate Change and Environmental Crisis
We experience a significant threatening Climate Change and Environmental Crisis which stems from our disconnection from and domination of nature which our reductionist, Newtonian, Darwinian prevailing scientific worldview has fed. In ecology, we exploit the environment in an unsustainable fashion: we decimate tropical forest and fertile topsoil, add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, inject chemicals and solid waste into our land and waters.
The available amount of fresh water is diminishing, with half the world’s population facing water shortages. Productive land is progressively being reduced due to soil erosion and pollution, which augurs food shortages. Our air is being polluted, causing climate change.
In the global economy, human demand is starting to outstrip global supply, nearing planetary limits, with many major earth resource production having peaked. This is caused by both the sheer size of the human population plus the per capita resource use. The world’s financial system is inherently structurally unstable, with the creation and bursting of speculative bubbles, but also represents a short term benefit seeking without regard for long term consequences.
Unsustainability is a systemic process. When the integrity of a complex system is impaired, one must understand the systemic roots which need to be repaired. These unsustainabilities exist not only in our ecology but also our economy and society. We see a humanity in crisis, with social structures breaking down all over the world, in developed as well as developing countries. Divorce rates are at 50%, job security has become a thing of the past, stress increases and quality of life does not.
Mentality of "That's Just the Way It Is"
We have a Mentality of "That's Just the Way It Is", leading to resignation and depression. Our social structures, institutions are failing to serve our people any longer, and people are not engaged.
We have a humanity in crisis, and we may very well be living through the fall of western civilization.