"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Monday, 26 August 2013

I have a dream...

As we mark 50 years since Martin Luther King made his famous “I have a dream…” speech, the terrible events within the world today remind me of something else King said, in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture December 11th 1964.

He observed that ‘the richer we have become materially the poorer we have become morally and spiritually.’ He called this our moral and spiritual ‘lag’. We live, he said, in two realms:

"The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live."

Our problem today, he said, is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live. He warned that we would put ourselves in peril if the former, the internal, does not grow apace of the external material realm. ‘When the ‘without’ of man’s nature subjugates the ‘within’, dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.’ The result, he cautioned, is racial injustice, poverty and war, that will only be alleviated if we balance our moral progress with our scientific progress and learn the practical art of living in harmony in a ‘worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation.’

Carl Jung had already observed this in 1957 when he wrote: ‘As at the beginning of the Christian era, so again today, we are faced with the problem of the general moral backwardness which has failed to keep pace with our scientific, technical and social progress.’ (1)

This week Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said that we have “lost the plot” in our society, due to our increasingly secular lives. 

Religion and ethics were once closely intertwined, but the influence of religion has declined in so many lives,with potentially devastating consequences.

The Dalai Lama in 2000 warned of a ‘mounting confusion with respect to the problem of how best we are to conduct ourselves in life...(and) morality becomes a matter of individual preference.’(2)

Nietzsche called this an impending ‘total eclipse of all values.’(3) Atheist as he himself was, his observation, he claimed, was entirely objective: we need a God and the moral codes inherent in that belief to curb our otherwise unpleasant behavioral traits. Whether or not we claim a particular faith as our spiritual guide and source of hope, the deep healing need that is within each and every one of us transcends all boundaries of faith or creed. I believe that we need to reach that need and heal our hearts before we can hope to heal our world. How, I wonder, can we do this? And can a faith help?

Adapted from Chapter 3 The Hope of Faith from Healing this Wounded Earth

1. From The Collected Works of C G Jung, 1970 pp304-305 as quoted in Claire Dunn Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul An Illustrated Biography, London: Continuum, 2000, p.199

2. .His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Ancient Wisdom Modern World: Ethics for the New Millennium (London: Abacus, Time Warner Books UK, 2000), p. 11.

3.  Friedrich Nietzsche, used a few times through his literature, for example spoken by the madman in The Gay Science (Philosophical Classics) Friedrich Nietzsche with Thomas Common (Translator)(New York: Dover Publications, 2006).

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