It is the time of year when we have the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the future.

The dehumanization process has reached new levels in 2023. The current destruction of Palestinian society by Israel is the most brutal representation of an ongoing crisis that is happening globally. As of December 1, the Gaza Health Ministry reported 15,000 Palestinians (including 6,150 children) killed, 36,000 injured, and 7,000 missing under the rubble, totaling over 58,000 casualties since the conflict began – about 2.4% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

Months before, the war in Ukraine dominated headlines; another instance of senseless killing due to hidden interests. The political spectrum is sliding to the far right in the U.S., Italy, Hungary, Argentina, and many other places. Attacks on immigrants and immigrant rights are in full force, passing increasingly repressive legislation that defies international human rights laws.

The dehumanization is metastasizing, and is now threatening our survival – from the natural environment to psychological well-being. Suicide, depression, and drug use have reached record highs. Overall, 49,449 Americans lost their lives to suicide last year, up from 48,183 deaths in 2021, the CDC reported. “Mental health has become the defining public health and societal challenge of our time,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “Far too many people and their families are suffering and feeling alone.”

The most interesting aspect of this moment is that these are human-created crises, solvable only through human action. In Israel-Palestine, the solution is to humanize both Jewish and Palestinian cultures. Ceasefires are not the solution, only steps in this process. Likewise, we must humanize our relationship with the environment to resolve the climate crisis.

The solution is simple. The work of achieving it is our challenge.

As Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

We must work to humanize our cultures by recognizing our shared humanity and by elevating consciousness. Our level of consciousness defines everything – from belief systems to cultural stereotypes to our love for humanity. The more we register violence, loneliness, and fragmentation, the more our consciousness declines. But the more we elevate it, the more our actions will humanize our surroundings.

Our society focuses on developing everything but levels of consciousness. We speak of humanizing or dehumanizing without understanding what makes us human, i.e., distinct from other lifeforms. What is consciousness? Do you remember studying in school? Consciousness is the ongoing awareness of one’s existence and humanity. The time between an observation and response. It is deceptively simple yet more powerful than God.

When did you last feel that you are alive, seeing the world and its possibilities? Or are you just on cruise control, where today is like yesterday and tomorrow is the same? When people protest, it is usually not to directly change things but rather to raise awareness so others will act. Good and bad things happen daily, but we fail to register events and become conscious of them. Our lives depend not on external factors like education, family, or country but on our level of consciousness.

As Silo wrote, “How difficult it is to comprehend that the internal states are linked to one another! If you could see what inflexible logic the consciousness has, you would recognize that those who blindly improvise in this situation inevitably begin to degrade themselves and others. Then, feelings of Frustration arise in them, and later they fall into Resentment and finally into Death – forgetting all that they had at one moment managed to perceive.”

Let 2024 be the year we become aware that conflicts like Israel-Palestine, Russia-Ukraine, and others only slow humanity’s development. We have little to gain and much to lose from these games.

Consider what you can do for yourself and your community:

  • A daily practice of quiet meditation
  • A daily walk to benefit body and mind
  • Teach, volunteer, or create (not just online). Circulating emotional energy is vital.
  • Speak out locally where you have influence. Have the discussion; don’t stay silent.
  • Do a weekly review of lessons learned and personal growth.
  • Make time to study and reflect. For those wanting more, I recommend the book Humanize the Earth by Silo.

As we move into 2024, it is on each of us to look within and lift our consciousness. By humanizing our own lives and circles, we humanize the world. Power lies not in money, politics, corporations, or technology, but in our ability to elevate our consciousness. Our destiny continues, even past death.

The future is in our hands.