2 World Views on Globalisation and Challenges on the Path to World Unity
Brexit and a globalisation of the soul
The seismic impact of the decision by the people of Britain to leave the European Union continues to be felt in Britain, the EU, and across the world. A major theme in reactions to the event has been that globalisation – shorthand for an ever increasing freedom of movement of goods, services and crucially, people – is a significant underlying cause. It has been blamed for creating much of the uncertainty and lack of job security which is thought to have motivated some Leave voters. But should globalisation be understood only as a way to maximise efficiency within the world economy? The obvious problem with this is that the benefits of this efficiency are not guaranteed to be shared equally – and it is this perception which may have evoked from part of the electorate a vote in protest. Even if the benefits could be shared equally, there is a deeper problem with seeing globalisation only as a means of securing material security or comfort. It has been said that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish”; and there is a definite sense across the world of a lack of vision among politicians and leaders. If people cannot sense a deeper meaning, a brighter future, within the world picture presented to them by their leaders, then they may succumb to nostalgia for a past that cannot be reborn.
What is needed is a vision of globalisation which touches the depths of the soul: which can, paradoxically, recognise identity as deeply rooted within the places and culture of a people, and at the same time values this identity as a great gift to be shared with others. By thus celebrating the diversity of life, we can work towards harmonising that diversity within ever-widening contexts of cooperation*, leading to a true unity. This work is not easy, and requires a persistent application of the will-to-good of the whole. Such a globalisation seeks first to dissolve the barriers in minds and hearts, as the essential precursor to breaking down barriers in the political and economic realms. Aspects of this vision of globalisation appear in the thinking of contributors to Resurgence, Kosmos, the Utne Reader, Mother Jones, the Optimist, Orion, Positive News and other progressive media; and in the actions of so many servers across the planet.
It is this vision of globalisation that was not heard loudly enough through the discussions and debates in Britain and elsewhere. The result of the Leave vote uncovered many divisions in society: between old and young; between urban and rural; between rich and poor; etc.. But Britain is not alone in these divisions, and now stands before the world as a clear example of fault lines within societies everywhere. Perhaps the most important division revealed is between the ‘elites’, the leaders, the ‘experts’, and the ordinary person on the street. With diligent, persistent and imaginative use of goodwill, this breach in the human psyche can and must be bridged. The challenge for all who would see an enlightened, inclusive globalisation emerge, is to find ways to integrate its high principles and vision into the programmes of politicians and leaders in business, culture and religion, and at the same time, to demonstrate its relevance to the ordinary circumstances of people everywhere. If Britain now stands as a symbol of division, it can become a symbol of healing, if both leaders and people can be reached and brought together by a dynamic, practical renewal of the meaning and purpose of community, national and international relationships.*The European Union has the potential, not yet fully realised, to be a context of cooperation beyond the nation-state. Another important result of the Leave vote is that a searching light has been shone upon the Union itself, and its leaders are now called to clearly articulate a positive vision of its future. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
Fresh Challenges on the Path towards Unity
A profound political, and many would say spiritual crisis is occurring in our times, and one that has taken on a fresh impetus following the unexpected British vote to leave the European Union. Whatever the view of people of goodwill may be on the complex issues surrounding this debate, it is undeniably the case that this vote has given rise to divisions which have increased fears and hatreds.
This is in contrast to the progress seen in recent decades where every area of life and relationship has been touched by the widespread recognition of the interdependence and wholeness of life. This recognition is driving a spiritual awakening in the professions, the arts, the sciences; in economics and international relations. Simultaneously, for over 50 years, there have been on-going experiments with multilateral economic and foreign policy negotiations between countries – and within countries. At all levels, this progress towards a more inclusive, multi-cultural human rights based society has been the result of great efforts of re-education and the overcoming of less enlightened, but long-established, practices.
Through recent events the ‘push and pull’ between those who are inspired by a vision of increasing unity in diversity and those whose vision is shaped by a sense of competition between separate groups has risen to a new level of emotional and political intensity. This poses a significant challenge. As Ban Ki-moon, speaking at Tel Aviv put it: The biggest confrontation is the battle for minds. On the one hand, there are those who want to divide the world into “us and them”. On the other, stand those who see humanity, in the words of the UN Charter, as “we the peoples”. This is a battle that “we the peoples” simply cannot afford to lose.
It is here that goodwill is such an important and effective force for change. Goodwill is not a passive force, it is a dynamic one that is now focused and transmitted by individuals and groups more than ever before and at all levels. Instead of divisive ideologies, goodwill reveals practical initiatives for cooperation and the resolution of shared problems with the aim of improving the quality of life of all. All people of goodwill are mediators in this respect, since goodwill is the vital ingredient for working with diverse elements to create a unified and constructive way forward.
In this decisive period, many areas require this transformative power, and there are as many ways of providing this as there are people of goodwill. Here are three possible arenas for action.
In recent decades increasing global integration has been accompanied by a growing wealth gap within countries and between countries. The focus now must shift towards authentic and transparent initiatives to foster sharing economies, where sustainable development improves the quality of life for all people. This will require pressure from citizens around the world. Inequality in any form (economic, ethnic, religious) should be understood as evidence of an absence of goodwill; a sign that healing is needed; and as a call to action.
Actively Fostering Global Citizenship.
Global citizenship remains an ideal ahead of humanity. It is beginning to emerge but still lacks solidity, or a firm element of group identity. Perhaps the greatest educational challenge facing people of goodwill is finding ways to present a vision of global citizenship that inspires a positive vision of future possibilities. This involves helping to awaken responsibility in others for the well-being of the whole as well as the well-being of the part (local community, and nation). It requires interest in the political life, in projects and initiatives to build transparent economies of sharing. People of intelligent goodwill are challenged to rise to the occasion and use the opportunities that ever accompany crises to deepen and enhance progress towards a world of goodwill and right human relationships. A very good step towards this are the visionary Sustainable Development Goals.
This is also a time for spiritually engaging with the huge numbers of people in the world who feel ‘left out’ and are angry. Each person who seeks to foster goodwill faces the challenge of finding an authentic response to this situation, and rising to the need for ever deeper service and skill-in-action in whatever way is natural to them.
We can dedicate the lighted, loving energies of divinity that are evoked in group meditation to creating a world of global citizens, working to heal inequality and truly establish a world of right human relationships. One World Goodwill program which relates to this is the Cycle of Conferences initiative. This is a worldwide meditation group that joins together in a visualisation to help spiritually enlighten the atmosphere on which world conferences vital to humanity’s spiritual progress depend. For all who work subjectively by aligning with the group of world servers, and evoking and radiating energies of light and goodwill, it is a time to redouble our efforts.