A huge problem that we've come to face in society is the prolonged wait for a truly humanitarian way of living. Small progress has been made moving towards it over the last 100 years, notably seen in the spirit of revolution towards a broad range of topics within civil rights such as race, gender and sexuality. However, we appear to have peaked in our reach of empathetic growth, and instead (brought in with technology, consumerism and materialism) we now predominantly are left with Individualism in the 21st Century. This naturally brings along with it narcissism and egocentricity. Certainly, it is a far cry from Humanism, and this is seen in things such as the continuation of inequality, troubles among different ethnic groups, anti-immigrant sentiment and of wars worldwide.
Psychologists have suggested that Individualism is a direct result of subjectivity or introspective thinking. They suggest instead, that objective thinking extents empathy out into the world, whereby the individual can then relate to others with more of it. This won’t work, and the evidence surely lies in the fact that it hasn't worked thus far.
We therefore find ourselves at the crossing in-between where we are, where we have come from and where we need to go.
We have come from a place of religion, which may at first appear as a subjective experience, however it is quite the opposite. Religion (certainly western religion) has taught us that in order to be good, and moral- we have to experience God through another man- be it a priest, Pastor or Jesus himself. This is arguably an objective reality experienced subjectively, based on putting an object in-between man and God.
Despite the decline of religion, we have still clung onto the concept that our worlds are objective. Subjectivity and introspective concepts have been brushed under the rug, pertaining instead to consumerism and materialism which has become the new objectivity, perhaps in order to fill the void where 21st century enlightenment should in fact be. Of course, this bodes well for the economy, and is advertised everywhere to guarantee the continuation of its growth, but the cracks are now starting to show in our ever growing individualistic problem- a lack of empathy in society.
Empathy is innate, but only when understood. And of course, new knowledge equals new action. The problem lies in the fact that it is not experienced subjectively. Empathy experienced objectively is a shallow half-form of empathy; in fact it is better labelled sympathy. ‘I understand world poverty. But is has not happened to me, and therefore I don’t emotionally hold attachment to it and so I won't move forward to change it.’ Objective empathy does not even exist.
That is the state that society finds themselves in, in the 21st century.
It is surely not down to ignorance that the world is suddenly full of narcissistic individuals? With the globalisation bred through advances in technology and the wide spreading knowledge through the internet, ignorance is certainly not something to consider.
The problem is the opposite; a lack of introspection and subjectivity. Although this time, it needs to be re-learnt without religion.
Subjective introspection without the collective unconscious (that is, without the acknowledgement of the soul and the connection to the divine) creates individualism, which in turn can create a detachment from responsibility, ethics, morality and empathy in society. While subjective introspection with knowledge of the individual’s connection to the collective unconscious creates universality, altruism, ethics, morals, and empathy.
This works whereby the collective unconscious creating a mirroring effect back onto society because it acknowledges the concept of society and connectivity (we are all as one), which becomes the microcosm of the macrocosm. As with meditation, when individuals feel their connection to the wider cosmos, when they are aware of their innate connection to every single being alive in existence, a new empathetic responsibility forms. A conscience is reborn, the soul re-awakens to its potential and role within humanity, true emotional empathy is unavoidable, and is thus reflected back into society.
Here the result equals the successful growth of Humanism. At least, that is the aim and only way for the future- Where humanity grows away from Individualism and moves towards a collective growth for humanity, a psychological evolution of the self. Taking responsibility for the self with the focus moved away from consumerism and placed back on the cosmos and the collective. This can work beyond a god or a spiritual crutch because it is the realisation that we ARE the mystical, we ARE the hope, the gods, the magic and change in the world. Likewise, we are not merely evolved apes; we are divine beings with divine responsibilities on Planet Earth.
If children are taught that they are only evolved apes, they're likely to act accordingly. If they are taught about the possibility of the spiritual roots of the soul and their connection to the universe and each other, then we will be aiming in the right direction for raising the next beautiful and empathetic generation.
I propose then, that we are entering a time of human psychological evolution. There is a need to evolve that has not been answered fully. A spiritual calling that needs answering and fostering. An evolution of society. We have become lost without our religious system, which has lead us to believe spiritual evolution comes only with a God/ church/ religion but in actuality there is an opening for us to take this responsibility without the containment of a godly father figure; we are being presented an opportunity to step up into a new way of life- a collective psychological adulthood.
And this is how we are doing it- we've been kicked out of the spiritual nursery where religion and our 'father thou art in heaven' guided us, we have gone through spiritual teenage hood, where we have made all the mistakes of materialism without the God figure in place, became lost and now we are ready to re-emerge into spiritual adulthood in the image of our God, (but without the oppression of a religion), where we resume our rightful role within the collective unconscious and grow with soulful independence- morality, ethics and empathy.