Can we develop a species consciousness?
Why is our species so divided?
Humans are very tribal, that much is true.
But we also have a deep capacity for reason and compassion, two remarkable attributes that provide the framework for a species consciousness.
Here are three reasons why humans need to develop a consciousness that unifies our species:
(1) A species consciousness can pacify the planet. Wars, and glorification of wars, only happen in cultures with a robust “us-versus-them” mentality. Killing other people and taking their resources is only possible where the victims of such violence have been dehumanized.
There is no cause — no cause — that justifies the killing of innocent people. But we live in a world where war is common place, and even trite.
If we can learn to see someone with a different skin tone or a different language as part of a shared tribe — the human tribe — war as a method of politics becomes repugnant. Disputes can be settled through peaceful means. Cooperation can become the hallmark of international relations. We can begin the work of tackling planetary problems that require unity and a shared vision in order to solve.
(2) A species consciousness will make us friendlier to other intelligent life on Earth. It is amazing that so many scientists dedicate themselves to looking for life in outer space. No doubt, this is important. But what about the intelligent life that exists right here on Earth? Not just other mammals like whales, primates, and other dolphins: cephalopods like the octopus, avian species, and even insects display interesting forms of intelligence that we are only know beginning to understand. But we are too busy killing each other to consider that other animals have something to teach all of us.
(3) A species consciousness is the only thing that will end the Sixth Great Extinction. The current extinction event is almost certainly, and exclusively, caused by human conduct. And in conjunction with the great die-off now taking place, the climate is warming at fantastic rates. There is a grave risk of human extinction by 2100.
But I believe this is a deep spiritual test presented by the Earth itself. The Earth is challenging our species to change itself — to find a better way to govern relations between its members, and between other species as well. Only by changing the way we live can humanity survive not just this century, but also for centuries to come. That is the great task at hand, and the reason why we are alive at this time.