The world is a harsh place. It seems to emphasize human traits such as selfishness and materialism along with a host of values that ultimately contribute to social cleavages, inequalities and a hardness many decry. But humanity can change and assuming we do change our underlying values, it will of course be a very very long time before that change can significantly reduce suffering and increase justice, compassion and harmlessness. To help bring this change about , there is a need, a big need, to know what are the values that will take us towards some form of unity. We need to know how those higher values manifest themselves, where they are beginning to make a difference, where are the entry points, and too where they are lacking. We need to have a clearer vision of what the values of a social conscience are.
If we had a better sense of those higher values, wouldn’t we feel more strongly about handling nuclear proliferation, refugees, hunger and malnutrition? Wouldn’t we be more committed to resolve our differences? Political sides say they stand on principles, wouldn’t we then be able to see when there are higher principles than those adherents profess to uphold—For example, the good of the whole? Wouldn’t we be freer to recognize that when the good of a few comes to hold too many negative consequences, then the good of the many must prevail?
While values are abstract and not always easy to articulate, they are often even harder to practice. In many ways they are like the wick to a candle. Like the wick they are a conduit to the light, in our case they define who we are as individuals and as a society. What gives them further importance is also how they determine intent, actions, what we are willing to fight for and the legacy we shall leave to those we care about and to the next generation. The question is, will they move us forward in what may be humanity’s quest, or is it mandate, to work toward unity?
I hope the pieces posted at Inner Life Directions play a role, small as it may be, in rediscovering and practicing those higher values.