Posted by: gebs | October 14, 2008

A New Enlightenment


The church needs to evolve!  It needs to ‘get with the times’!  It speaks little in terms of the modern sense of things.


Although there is some truth in the above statements, they are often not made for the sake of a universal truth, but rather a personalised truth.  These statements are a classic case of where an excuse has become a reason.   In fact, when we make such remarks about going to church, for example, we make them because we ourselves refuse to change and become the type of people who find some kind of nourishment by going to church.  We are convinced that we are ‘reasonably’ justified in our decision to not attend. 


I am sure not one will dispute the fact that it is easier for one person to change, than for a billion, at any one time.  It is a case of wanting to change the world yet doing nothing about it.  How easy do we thing change is for a tradition and institution that has been around for nearly two millennia?  Yet our mental foolishness has allowed us to be convinced otherwise.  ‘The buffered self’ (Charles Taylor) is also the supreme self, the self where ‘authenticity’ is guaranteed to all.  We all consider ourselves as being justified in our own mentality as each to their own.   You have your opinion, and I have mine!  The result seems to be a dangerous relativism which speaks only of nihilism. 


On the verge of global financial meltdown and the abandonment of free market policy, which capitalism is the spawn, we are again reminded how misguided some of our theories about the world may be, and the overall modern belief that we are somehow equipped with the ability to take control of our own future.  The sceptical truth that all knowledge is ultimately theory (opinion), has somehow been overshadowed by the dogmatism which most sceptics speak of today.  Lately, it has come to my awareness that there are no greater dogmatists that the modern day sceptics.  Today, a sceptic is not one that can never grasp the truth, but one whose job it is to discern the true from the false!


Our modern mentality likes to think of itself as one which has been liberated into the field of authenticity. The Enlightenment and Modernity did free society from the chains of Christendom and allowed humanity to shape its own society based on its own discerned truth.  Some argue that religion may have served its purpose in our pre-scientific superstitious history, but has become obsolete, whilst others make the somewhat deluded conclusion that it was a mistake form the beginning, somehow ignorant to the fact that it is the cause of the very freedom through which they make such a statement.  Regardless of what one thinks of religion and its purpose in our history, the modern mentality can convince itself of anything under the illusion of authenticity.        


Perhaps it is time again for history to make its voice heard.  Perhaps it is time to be reminded of that truth, which lies beyond our knowledge, yet has been assumed.  Perhaps it is time for a reassessment of our philosophy of life.  Today, philosophy is no longer a free flowing song, but is rather the accurately timed noise made from a carefully tuned machine.  There is no room for poetry or metaphysical endeavours here.  Why?  Or better still, why is it that our modern philosophy of life, denies us the metaphysical endeavours which are evidentially part of our spiritual essence? 


Matter is not everything, and if our quantum physicist friends are correct, matter is indeed nothing in itself, yet is created in the spiritual interaction which currently defines the nucleus of an atom.  Despite the advances of our modern civilisation, we seem to be ensuring material security at the cost of everything else.  Our world is crying as we continue to feed the society we have created.  A society whose very own ‘social imaginary’ (Taylor) must take on a new meaning.  We are not all ‘buffered self’s’, but rather one big intricately linked whole.  We are all one in as much as we are many.  In order for the whole to change, we must also be willing to change.  We must be able to say that we are wrong.  We also must be able to admit that the false sense of security which is somehow assured to our existence via material wellbeing is itself a theory under demise.   We have not yet found the answer which will ensure peace and harmony for all the earth, including the trees.  We have not found the solution to material wellbeing through our economic theory.  Our so called peaceful societies are not peaceful at heart, but are merely places were violence is kept under tight control and occasionally bursts at the seams (like the Cronulla riots).  Give any modern day person a gun, and it will not be long before they use it in one sense or another.  Financial security is not so much a reality for all as it is a revealer of the lurking greed behind human ambitions, greed for the power that comes with money.  Like the feeling we get when we have a pocket full of cash.   Capitalism is not the answer, which is not to say however, that it has no purpose. 


The time has come for a New Enlightenment.  One that not only looks for advancement and evolution, but is also not scared of its own past and presumptuously judges it as inferior because of its unscientific foundations.  One that not only looks forward towards the future, but is also one that   treasures its past, and is willing to learn from its ancestor, rather than see it as a disgrace.  A more authentic enlightenment. 


This is the kind of change our world need.  Indeed it is also the change we need in our own lives if we are to become happier and peaceful human beings united with our environment. 

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