A few events in the news are impacting our understanding of the current situation and have motivated me to write this piece.
Putin annexes Ukraine’s Donbas region, while Ukraine reconquers other invaded cities and threatens to recapture Crimea. Putin declares he will defend himself with nuclear weapons, Biden announces Armageddon, and NATO supplies Zelensky with sophisticated weaponry.
Europe, engaged in war with Russia, is pressed by migrant camps in southern Turkey, the Greek islands, Lampedusa in Italy; and in illegal camps across the Strait of Gibraltar or the English Channel hordes will walk, row or swim into European capitals at the most unexpected moment; plus lines of young Russians and Ukrainians are fleeing the war.
The so-called progressive governments in Latin America, with support from barely 50% of the electorate, are threatened by a coming irruption of authoritarian and neo-fascist governments with popular support. In several countries they already have this character. In Chile, the population rejected the proposal for a new Constitution drafted from a Constitutional Convention, which would be democratic, parity-based, diverse, and would have taken into account several indigenous peoples. Caravans of immigrants cross America towards the north and the south.
Human eyes dive to the edge of the universe; space telescopes capture waves from the very origin of time and translate them into photographic images; rockets deflect asteroids and science designs how to create atmospheres on the Moon, Mars and other planets; decision making through Artificial Intelligence algorithms opens new capabilities and horizons.
Instant communication between every point in space is already a way of life for the entire world population. All human knowledge is online and available to anyone capable of pinpointing an interest. At the same time, the contamination of this information to manipulate consciences creates conditions that may be generating a kind of social schizophrenia; a massive de-structuring of the individual self that heralds phenomena of psychosocial synchrony, but also violent outbursts.
Mistrust of all kinds of political, religious, ideological, family or any other kind of references leaves us at the mercy of irrational proposals, capable of channeling resentment and fear towards specific groups.
We are crossing a psychic field of darkness. Everyone asserts their own reason without being able to reach a good conclusion of the conversation. The media exacerbates fear and unreason. An experience of meaninglessness and escape (distraction) from the experience of living becomes the social atmosphere.
The fragmentation of emotions and thinking hinders a vision of a process that foresees the direction to which personal or institutional actions are leading; we are no longer able to understand what relationship the violence of young people has with the arms buildup that is growing in inconceivable numbers, or with the powers that are preparing us for a nuclear war, or which prioritize their state interests so as not to change a system of production that is destroying the environmental habitat.
Nobody knows what is happening, nobody has an answer to a system of organization that was created for a different kind of world. Neither national states, nor formal democracies, nor centralized democracies, or scientists, artists, religions, or ideologies: none of us is understanding or able to give an answer to the present moment. Technology has set in motion a Golem that we can no longer stop and has become out of control; not only for those of us who are removed from decision-making instances, but for those who are supposed to have power. The ineffectiveness of the United Nations due to the veto rights of the nuclear powers, or the arrogance of the financial powers that indexed even calamities for profit, are plain to see. Governments are trying to respond to this crisis as if it were a local crisis, without realizing that it is a new, global world.
Social processes are out of hand even for the most powerful who could once do something. Treaties, agreements, legal certainties, UN resolutions, borders, everything is quite relative, and uncertainty is what prevails as a future prediction. What does the future look like? “Uncertain”. The world we aspired to and tried to build, no matter what ideologies or beliefs, did not work out. Our ideas failed and the world accelerated faster than we could comprehend. We are dumbfounded by what is happening and modern civilizations seem to be drifting apart, fighting each other while the planet is depleted and individual humanity, each one of us, suffers.
How does one go through this dark night of humanity?
We know that after night comes dawn, but we don’t know how long the night will be. If we did, we would no longer speak of uncertainty.
At some point the new day will commence when “cultures begin to understand each other and it will be realized that if there is no progress for all, there will be no progress for anyone”. But until then, we will have to pass through a black sky without stars. If the power of states, armies, religions and thinkers have lost control of the situation, and every conflict escalates until it becomes chronic (permanent), if spending on armaments keeps being as enormous as today, and our supposed authorities and representatives are not even capable of coordinating a few measures to protect the environment, water, air and sea, which are vital for the survival of the species, we’ll have to accept with humility and awareness of failure that we can no longer trust these institutions to come up with solutions to the current situation. On the contrary, they will tend to disintegrate from within. Everyone clings to the twinkling of a night star, while one by one they fade away.
Everyone clings to the twinkling of a night star, while one by one they fade away.
When all is lost, we look to the black sky and the unfathomable depths of our own soul. We will have to turn to other forces, to the inner strength of the human being, to their flight and inspiration, and the forces that push us in a transcendent direction. We will have to raise a new faith from the depths of our being, to gather and meet among those closest to us. We’ll need to make the effort to reach out, even if many shy away, to shake hands with those who will accept them. An open hand that no longer discriminates by ideas (all failed), beliefs (all failed), or social condition, and accepts those who accept it.
Will the inner strength of the human being, the faith in the common future, the need to unite for an essential change in the way of life and the way of relating to others, be able to tune in on a planetary level to resist the prehistoric mentality of atomic bombs, of slaughter, of blackmail, of constant accumulation?
I don’t know, but I do know that the time has come to awaken the force of the human within. That force that when awakened, makes us feel that we are touching an impulse of transcendence.
Dormant, sleeping forces, until now deposited in institutions that have failed.
Inner strength, which when we feel its presence, pushes back the fear of death, and see the Other in its sacred essence. We need to awaken it and unite to help each other, to welcome each other, to care for the human, in this dark night.
Walking through uncertainty, groping, not knowing the events that will burst upon the path, requires a centre in the heart. The experience of the transcendent force within each of us can build that centre of inner unity that will support us as the whole world shakes.
The meaning of a crisis is not only personal or institutional disillusionment, but also the possibility of human and social growth. A new faith, a transcendent force can be experienced now that all illusions of today’s world have left us, a world that could not be. Our action can be oriented to make that strength grow, that inner unity, and to collate, from that experience, the bombardment of news and advice to which we are exposed daily and which do not help us to understand what is happening to us.
Awakening faith or the inner strength of a possible change in oneself, in close relationships, and in caring for others, cannot correct the destructive direction of today’s world. But perhaps it is a good thing that dehumanized social structures become inoperative. Perhaps is not so problematic a collapse of what seeks to survive at the expense of the common good and the collective wellbeing. And perhaps the most evolutionary tendencies and organizations, those that care for the other, for the human being, for nature and for the spirit, can be strengthened when a new force is born in us that we experience as belonging to all and transcending us.
It is precisely at historical crossroads, in the decline of civilizations, that we rediscover an inner strength that becomes present, or is recognized in small groups of people. From that common experience something is initiated that grows and expands little by little.
If this is so, if the engine of the human, the faith in the transcendent that lives in oneself, in the other and in all of us, is awakening; if we can reach out and open our hearts to find each other, while the dehumanized mechanical structures that serve no one come to a halt; we would be from the small, from the human, building the foundations of the future Humanity.
Translated from Spanish by David Meléndez Tormen