Isabelle Gravenstein, Guest
Human beings have got the most amazing capacity to fool themselves, whilst appearing to exercise great intelligence and achievements. It is none more obvious then when we call ourselves civilised. Firstly, what benchmark do we use to know that we are civilised and that that bunch of people over there is not?
Does civilised mean wearing clothes, eating with metal instruments, driving a vehicle, worshiping a globally recognised God and not eating one’s enemy?
When the colonialists invaded Africa, that is most certainly what they thought. Nakedness was sinful, eating with the hands was distasteful, a donkey ride was below their station and the locally worshipped God was considered little more than Satan’s best pal!
In the enthusiasm to civilise the uncivilised, much suffering ensued. Cultural traditions were harshly discouraged or even forbidden, alien Gods were introduced and both sides got heavily messed up in the brain, a legacy that we can still witness to this day! Witchdoctors keep on making a roaring trade, getting rich by selling powers to absolutely anyone who does not consider the regular God to be that almighty!
I would like to look at our bunch of civilised people in the developed world. Already the word developed is laden with many unasked questions.
Does developed mean that we should own our home, have six figure sums in our bank accounts, jet set around the world, own at least one car and the latest technological gadgets to further distract us from important issues?
Does it mean that our farmers should get subsidies to grow nil crops, or that, when they grow a food surplus, it should get destroyed just to keep market prices stable?
Does it mean that we know we destroy the environment through our extremely polluting industries and agree to do nothing about it? The list goes on and worse! Yet, we are civilised, are we not?
We know that we can save millions of lives in the developing world by providing affordable medicine for AIDS victims. Still, the big pharmaceutical companies look on as millions die needlessly. And the ones running the corporations do not own the latest Mercedes yet, so let us just give them that little privilege to make more money. We produce arms and artillery capable of blasting the whole planet to oblivion (has such an invention ever made sense to anyone apart from the very sick minds who see a use for them?), costing billions of pounds every year whilst millions of human lives are totally wasted through hunger, sickness and lack of opportunities.
We have never truly brought to the fore the fact that nearly half of the global population in keeping the other half enslaved. Male dominance has been the source of much suffering for untold women and children, in the West and in developing countries. Is it civilised to make sure that the girl child has no access to education, that women have no control over their own bodies, have no inheritance rights, bear the heaviest work loads, are raped, maimed, mutilated just for men’s pleasure or material gain? And that far too many children do not celebrate their fifth birthday, or are turned into soldiers at the age of ten?
We have the potential to become civilised but we have not reached that stage yet. Using this word is way too premature. Yet, we do use it because we compare ourselves to our ancestors or to other contemporary nations who are not industrially as advanced as ours.
Looking at our material wealth and some of our habits, we could appear to be civilised. But digging deeper, why does a human sacrifice in Africa seem uncivilised compared to the millions of lives the West is easily sacrificing because prices of medicines are kept purposefully high and unaffordable for most sick Africans? What is the difference between our stone age ancestors clobbering a neighbour over the head with a club, thereby destroying one life, and us, today, throwing bombs all over our neighbouring countries, killing thousands and badly wounding as many? Couldn’t we say that we have here a case of lost civilisation?
As we appeared to become more civilised, the world over, we also became more materialistic. Aren’t we just such easy prey for the tons of useless trinkets mass-produced the world over? Posh houses and fast cars, fashion and music trends, ego massaging devices that come in the most unsuspecting packages, such as adulation, fame, praises and bribes, we all fall for them.
And while some of us build fat bank accounts and even fatter egos, the masses keep on getting sick and dying, we keep on destroying the environment with no thought for tomorrow and we walk around with a big smile, an even bigger head and call ourselves civilised!
Let me share with you what I would call being civilised. It would be a world where absolutely everyone would be aware that he is an important part of a whole and that everything he does and even think will bear an impact on that whole. Empowered with this knowledge, that human being would then go forth and thrive to develop himself, his potential and his environment in a harmonious way so that he could prosper and, at the same time, facilitate the prosperity of others. At no time would he think of misappropriating positions or goods that would deny the livelihood of another. At no time would he force change or exert pressure in order to exploit a situation or people for his sole gain.
Civilised would mean that we would all thrive to ensure equality, in absolutely all senses of the word and that no one would be left wanting for anything. The words gender equality would become history, and such would slavery, famine, preventable diseases, shortages and wars. The list is of course not complete.
So are we civilised? I would say ‘definitely not!’ We have a long way to go. Our brains have evolved awfully fast in the last two centuries. We have made amazing advances in many technological fields but we have left our human awareness stagnating in the caves. It is about time that we start working on that aspect of ourselves, or we stand not much chance of keeping our planet alive, let alone ourselves.
About the Author
I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for nearly a decade. I have concurrently read and studied other metaphysical and spiritual texts, including the I AM Discourses and the works of Yogananda Paramahansa, amongst many others.
Whilst studying, I am also teaching in a very casual manner, people who show interest in spiritual matters and need a gentle nudge on their inner journey. I am also an ardent adherent and encourager of positive thinking.
A couple of years ago, I started to write about my imagined ‘last moments’ on Planet Earth, and how I would live them. All my articles are relating to living a mindful life, as we never know when we will be called back to our ‘Spiritual Home’.
Apart from being a writer of metaphysics, I am also in my everyday life, a professional carer, caring for people with dementia, the aged and am also a spiritual companion for people nearing the end of their earthly journey.
This article was featured at SelfGrowth.com.
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