Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pursuit of the common good


(See the previous post for the cliffhanger.)

        Indeed, on the very last page, in the last two sentences in the second to the last paragraph, the Skidelskys write:
Could a society entirely devoid of the religious impulse stir itself to pursuit of the common good? We doubt it.
 
        Excuse me!? Are Robert and Edward suggesting what I think they mean? Let's see. So without a god consciousness the whole of humanity cannot summon the will to solve its problems with, for example, capitalism as the overriding force controlling our mental framework. As much as I concede it will be difficult, I can't bear to give in to this level of cynicism just yet. Besides, the so-called religious impulse they're referring to is hardly a universal human trait, whereas the fact that we live in a capitalist state is incontrovertible. I find this level of doubt about the base impulses of humanity a sad commentary even if it appears to be true.
        A month ago when I first read that page I jotted down my initial reaction—People are at war with each other because ultimately they are at war with their own human nature and what it means to come to terms with that.
        This is the heart of what is so difficult to understand, describe, and parse into meaning so that people would feel compelled to take action. How many people have to be at exactly what level of despair in order to start living differently? And don't think that despair is the sole motivator. Anyone can come to this on their own from many levels of consciousness.
        If you want to describe that as coming from god, fine, but I think you'll find that it originates equally from self-interest, survival, and simply wanting to be at peace with the world, rather than struggling with the false dichotomy that capitalism forces on us. Money = self-worth, no money = no worth.
        But don't take my word for it. If you've read TwentyFirstCenturyCitizen before, you know I've mentioned the many people who study human behavior for a living. There are so many souls out there trying to get us to believe in the depth of our better nature, our higher selves.
        I hope it's not too late, but unlike the Skidelskys, I can't bring myself to say:

I doubt it.
 


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