The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Peace and Progress
The above quote was famously delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was apparently often quoted by President Barack Obama. But it was probably originally written by slave abolitionist, and Unitarian church minister Theodore Parker on the eve of the American Civil War. All three men were suggesting hope as a hallmark of our days on earth. Do we still believe this quote? Are we justified in such a belief?
On CNN’s GPS (Global Public Square) program, Fareed Zakaria interviewed French President Emanuel Maron. However, in the linked introduction above, before the actual interview with President Macron, Mr. Zakaria delivers a verbal opinion editorial on the state of the world with projections about what might be in store for us as a global community. Does the universe really bend toward justice? Is “progress” inevitable as somewhat indicated by Steven Pinker in his book Enlightenment Now? Does the world continue to move forward toward what we generally might agree is “”good” life? Or, as Mr. Zakara tentatively suggestions, we might be in a permanent slide towards a life few of us actually want to live?
The Law of Attraction folks are fond of phrases such as “you attract what you focus on”. Such belief systems aside, experience tells us that where we direct our attention significantly influences our experience of EveryDayLife. Even beyond the ontology of each moment, beyond what is “actually” going on at any given time, our experience of each instance of “reality” is largely shaped and shaded by that toward which we have chosen to direct our conscious attention. This phenomenon plays out individually and collectively. As such, consider this.
Experience and Focus
We live in an age of economic and political dominance by transnational corporations, in a time when ground wars have become obsolete and inefficient to strongly influence little more than local disputes. This state of affairs coupled with an ever more enmeshed interconnectivity within the cyber world, we, as a nation and a world must address a new approach to “world peace”, to our attempts to make things “work out”. At a time when the acting chief executive of United States attempts to focus public attention on a border wall (to protect the country against physical presence of other people), on immigration and asylum seekers (again, protection from physical bodies) and a general political, economic (and some would say racial) protectionism, the rest of the world is focusing on ways we might find common ground in the manner in which we are actually most connected–in the cyber world.
(from the first Paris Peace Forum led by French President Emanuel Macron)
Peace is not just the suspension of war. It is made up of all the solutions that help minimize international tensions: cooperation to fight climate change and resource scarcity, institutions to channel power rivalries and administer global public goods, justice to assuage grievances and frustration, regulation to address inequalities and abuses of power. ~The Paris Peace Forum
If we are to truly “progress”, if we are to repeatedly step closer to what we could all call a “good life”, the process must focus on that which is effective at achieving true peace and prosperity, not separation and isolation. Within a true global community, the patriarchal paradigm of dominance has become antiquated and untenable. As expressed during the Paris Peace Forum, that focus must at least include if not derive its primary impetus from cyber concerns (in transcendence of nationalist notions about immigration and such).
If we fail in such a focus, if our collective (national or international) attention is siphoned off by a desire to guard against “those others” beyond our borders or “those others” who wear a differently shaded political cap, can we ever hope to truly progress? Can that misused phrase “make America great again” ever possess any true meaning beyond partisan sloganism?
Make It Real
Can we save the world? Most of us are not in a position to significantly impact the national focus. However, what news outlets do you frequent? What news stories do you follow? What is the focus of your normal water cooler chats or the heart of family conversations? Toward what do you direct your attention? What are you attracting into your experience?
Food for thought. Dig in!