Time to Wake Up

“You have not known what you are, you have slumbered upon yourself all your life. Whoever you are, claim your own.”
Walt Whitman

The times call for a new humanity. We can respond to our injuries as the Philistines or the Carthaginians or Hittites might. We can continue a heritage of consciousness that is fully compatible with Neolithic and Iron Age thinking. We can continue to use force as a way of settling things. We can demonize people we don’t understand and lay waste their towns and villages. We can round up innocent people we think might be a threat. We can use our hate to fool us into thinking we are not afraid. Or we can grow up as a species and try something different.

In the fall of 2001, we are able to communicate with people across the globe. We can see pictures and learn about people who seem different than us. We can read books about unfamiliar religions. We have access to spiritual leaders of many traditions who can help us to higher levels of consciousness and compassion. Anyone who cares to seek wisdom can explore any number of religions and philosophies. We can explore ourselves in psychotherapy and meditation. If we want to get to know people from different cultures, they are not hard to find. We have no need to close our hearts and minds to any part of humanity.

In recent history, death camps, killing fields, and mass graves of ethnic cleansing have shown us the fruits of hatred, blind obedience and fanaticism. We can and must elevate our minds and open our loving hearts. It can be a dog eat dog world, if we aspire to nothing more than dog consciousness. We can operate on the basis of an eye for an eye if we haven’t progressed as a species since Hammurabi1 codified that law 4000 years ago. Or we can take a step up on the ladder of moral development.

Let us challenge ourselves to wake up. We must be conscious. We must be aware of our base emotions—our fears, aversions, and hatreds. To have a different and better world than our ancestors, we must recognize the prejudices we have inherited and root them out. To be strong, and that we must be, we need to be centered, grounded, and balanced in our hearts and minds. If the world is in for a great struggle, let that struggle not be just out there against someone else. Let us use the energy that is moving in us and in our society to make something great. Let us do our inner work with renewed earnestness and carry the good we draw from our efforts out to the world that needs it so badly.

Let us pray.

Let us meditate.

Let us examine ourselves and challenge our small thinking and dark emotions.

Let us act out of love.

1Hammurabi, a great king of what we now call Iraq lived 2067-2025 BC. His law, the Code of Hammurabi, was written on a stone column, now in the Louvre. It includes this:

“If a noble has destroyed the eye of an aristocrat, his eye shall be destroyed.
If he has destroyed the eye of a commoner or broken the bone of a commoner, he shall pay one mina of silver.”
If he has destroyed the eye of a noble's slave or broken the bone of a noble's slave, he shall pay one half his value.”
If a son has struck his father, they shall cut off his hand.”
If a noble charge another noble with murder but fails to prove it, the accuser shall be put to death.”

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© 2001 Tom Barrett