Sunday, November 16, 2008

A charter for compassion without religion

Cave paintings of Shamans

We lived as hunters and gatherers for more than 150 000 years. 70 000 years ago there was some kind of change in our ways. We began to decorate our axes. 40 000 years ago there was another big change in our way of living. Art, cave paintings and religious rituals began. The Shamans became our guides. This is the dawn of the human culture.
The agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago was another dramatic change in our way of living. (And it was not due to a genetic change, a mutation.) We suddenly became farmers and settled down for some reason. Maybe because the time was ripe. Who knows? Anyway, our religions changed. War, property and social class became important. Slavery was introduced. Narrow mindedness and egoism began to thrive. The masculine principle replaced a feminine or equal lifestyle. When we lived as hunters and gatherers private property did not exist. We spent less than two hours a day working. The rest of the day we simply chilled out, sang songs, danced and told stories. When we became farmers we did nothing but worked and complained, if we were not at war.

The industrial revolution in the nineteenth century was another change in our material evolution. The farm hands became workers in the factories. They began to look down on the country bumpkins, as the farmers looked down on the nomads 10 000 years ago.

Now, however, we are forced to change our ways again. Either we find a way to live in harmony with each other and the planet earth or we will be replaced by some other species.

I believe that this fundamental change implies that love and friendliness, which is also in our biology, must become our guiding lights, not competition, power and intelligence. I believe that many people today are aware that this change has already begun.

It is definitely possible, or maybe very probable, that we will ruin the planet before we wake up to a more conscious and harmonious way of living, but there is a small chance, I believe, that we will realize what is at stake before it is too late.

If there are other civilizations out there in space somewhere who are more advanced than our, they must definitely have found ways to overcome animosity, hatred and war. Otherwise, they would have killed each other long ago and disappeared.
Imagine that you have a job in the engine room at a big cruise liner when a fire starts. You rush off to wake up the engineer but he is drunk and tells you to fuck off. So you hurry to the captain but he refuses to let you in. Nobody is listening to you, not your fellow sailors and none of the passengers. Everybody seems to be drugged or drunk and caught up in silly fistfights. They tell you that you are ruining the trip with your endless goddamn complaining. They tell to be more positive and optimistic. So you find yourself standing there at the gunwale looking at the horizon. The sun has just set and amazing colors paint the sky and the sea. You feel lonely and because you're not exactly sober yourself you can't really complain about the other drunkards. You know that there are other people on the ship who know about the fire, it's just that you, for strange reasons, cannot get in contact with them and there is nothing you can do about it.