Finding the Joy in Our Shared Humanity
Isn’t joy what we all wish for in our lives?
When we look at the complete picture of who we are these days, there’s not nearly enough joy in it. In fact, we humans find ourselves caught up in a global scale quandary. We are all at risk like never before from a range of existential challenges, like climate change, extreme weather, and massive biodiversity loss. All are caused by human overreach.
From our beginnings about 200,000 years ago, it took all the way up to the year 1974 to reach four billion humans on Earth. In just the 50 years since then, from 1974 to now, the human population has doubled to eight billion. As that was happening, in that same 50-year time frame, wild animal populations on Earth have collapsed by nearly 70 percent. That is our reality. It is undeniable. We are destroying the only planet, the only home, we have.
Saving ourselves from ourselves requires that we wake up and face facts. Human life, all of life on Earth, is in very big trouble. All of us, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or nationality, share responsibility for our cultural overreach. We must correct course. We must all work together to build trust and common commitment. That’s how we forge a worthy, sustainable future for all of life on Earth.
The answer to humanity’s dysfunction is not more tribalism. It’s not more political polarization. That can only lead to ever more suffering and disintegration. We are obligated to be better than that. Fortunately for us, becoming our best selves is a great way to bring joy to our lives.
‘If you look at Earth from space you see a dot, that’s here. That’s home. That’s us. It underscores the responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.’
Our Human Struggle for Cultural Stability
Humanity’s political and economic power remains in the hands of a fading industrial era neoliberalism. Many of the old-order elite are using their wealth and influence to resist change as our world’s politics shift toward inclusiveness and corrective action. Younger voters are deeply unsettled by the instability and dysfunction that defines life for them. In so many ways, they are ready for change. It is largely young people, who are powering progressive social media trends. They are acting as agents for change in so many worthy ways.
‘Young people today seem unaware of race or sexual identity as a cause for division. Rather than being considered as troublesome, their differences are celebrated… Today’s generation of youngsters is the world’s first global citizens.’
The Roots of Our Disorder
For many millennia, human culture has been defined by male dominance. Men have been in charge. Men have made the rules. Women have been oppressed and marginalized. In the same callous way, our Earth’s living resources have been commodified and exploited relentlessly without concern for consequence.
We know how that has worked out. Human history has been shaped by bloody conflict and widespread suffering. In so many ways, gender dominance has brought us to a potentially catastrophic reckoning.
Life on Earth is in big trouble. Civilization-scale collapse is a very real possibility. Correcting course starts with replacing dominance with gender equality in all ways.
The good news is it’s already starting to happen.
‘We live in an age in which the fundamental principles to which we subscribe – liberty, equality and justice for all – are encountering extraordinary challenges, … But it is also an age in which we can join hands with others who hold to those principles and face similar challenges.’
All of Us, All Connected Together
Humans are our Earth’s apex species. We are sentient beings. We have the capacity to prevail over our worst instincts. Fortunately, according to discernable trends, that is where humanity is headed. For the first time, we are linked by the global internet and social media. That means we have the ability to share information and ideas in real-time across time zones with all of our world’s people. More and more people around the world are getting the message that we all share the same fate and that we need to cooperate and work together to secure the future for the coming generations.
‘There are only two basic ways of structuring the relations between the female and male halves of humanity. All societies are patterned on either a dominator model – in which human hierarchies are ultimately backed up by force or the threat of force – or a partnership model, with variations in between.’ – Riane Eisler, Author, The Chalice and the Blade
The Emerging Gender-Equal Partnership Era
We are also learning to embrace a new inclusive way of being human. The importance of that cannot be overstated. The esteemed social scientist Riane Eisler calls it ‘The Partnership Way’. It’s men, women, and non-binary humans choosing a life together as equals in all ways. That means equal pay for equal work, equal access to education, and equal access to political power at all levels.
Imagine that. A world in which every person shares the same rights and same obligations. Getting past the polarization and cultural discord that is our current reality requires that we, all of us together regardless of gender, ethnicity, or nationality, aspire to be the best kind of humanity we can become. We are all Earth’s citizens.
It’s about sharing the same equal rights and responsibilities; about embracing the commitment to each other and to all of the living creatures that are here together with us on Earth.
‘You are never too small to make a difference.’
We All Know It When We Feel It
I say again: isn’t joy what we all wish for in life? Think about it. It comes with a good meal. It comes from good relationships with others. It comes with success in every arena. There are so many ways of experiencing joy.
I wanted to see what the net had to say about the nature of joy. My search delivered a lot of hits. One, in particular, stood out. It was How to Think About Pleasure, authored by Sam Dresser, Senior Editor at Aeon.com. Mr. Dresser is a serious philosopher, who has thought a lot about questions such as, “What comes first, pleasure or joy, or are they the same thing?”
‘The throughline between warm scarves and charity work and calling your grandmother; between the cool side of the pillow, the sad-happiness of nostalgia, the pop of a champagne bottle opening – what could it be other than that these are all, in their way, pleasing? So, the question is: if pleasure can be found in all these sundry ways, then what is it? And the most common answer is a tad ho-hum: stuff that feels good. Stuff that you like. The experiences that make you say: ‘Yep! There it is.’ – Sam Dresser
The Joy that Comes with Common Purpose.
One of the key takeaways from author Sam Dresser’s eloquent treatise on pleasure is, ‘Take pleasure in the pleasure of others’.
We all know what that feels like. It’s when your home team scores. It’s when you’re in good company. It’s when you triumph over adversity. What if we did it on a global scale?
Think about Earth in the very best way. Imagine if all the world’s people could get on the same page, all humans sharing the same rights and responsibilities, all humans choosing to trust in a life-affirming, sustainable, common purpose.
We now have the means to deliver planetary-scale messages in real-time. Lots of good people are working those media channels. They are delivering inspiration to all corners of our Earth, encouraging a global-scale course correction.
There’s plenty of promise in the emerging cultural trends. The founder of TechCast, Bill Halal predicts that our Earth’s people will effectively become a global-scale, collective conscience within the next few years. In effect, we become some kind of cosmic intelligence. Think of it as a reassuring level of awareness and understanding, the kind that can bring all of our human family together, choosing inclusion, caring, and cooperation on a planetary scale.
‘No problem can be solved with the same level of consciousness that created it.’
Our Cultural Inertia Remains Mired in the Past
There is no guarantee that serendipity will bless the human journey at this fateful moment. Humanity is still defined by a range of cultural subsets. With gender, the subsets are male, female, and non-binary humans. Some subsets are more progressive than others. Some are leading our unfolding evolution in the best ways.
Evolution is a process. The transition to a worthy future may stretch out through the end of this century and well beyond. There will likely be many ups and some deeply unsettling downs.
The old guard is aggressively leveraging their wealth and influence to resist change. They are pushing back aggressively. No doubt, they are slowing our cultural evolution. Let’s face reality. We have a range of urgent, planetary-scale challenges. We may not get past the barriers that separate us. Our best chances for a positive future come when we choose to hang together as equals.
‘What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.’ – Jane Goodall, Naturalist, Planetary Citizen
The Time for Commitment is Now
What we all must work for is a planet that has corrected course. It starts with building trust and commitment among all of our Earth’s people. That’s how we achieve equality in all ways for all humans.
Our Earth’s cultural energy is shifting ever more toward those of us, who have chosen to stand together, bonded by a common worthy purpose. It’s exhilarating to think about the transcendent brand of humanity that will emerge from that.
Imagine our whole human family, all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities, all together sharing the transcendent kind of joy that comes from living with a common purpose. It’s an idea that’s loaded with a blissful brand of joy, the kind of joy that can emerge from our shared humanity.
‘If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living… Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.’ Joseph Campbell, Author, The Power of Myth
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