Now is the Time
The only thing that will redeem mankind is co-operation, and the first step towards co-operation lies in the hearts of individuals.
– Bertrand Russell
Our work to know and connect to our inner core is, by definition, an individual endeavor. And because our lives are inextricably interconnected, our quest also embraces other people and has collective impact.
In A Timeless, Life-Changing Quest, I listed the benefits to be gained from knowing our inner core, concluding with this point:
- I engage people more confidently and compassionately, including strangers and even antagonists. I become more capable of participating in genuine dialogue and creative conflict resolution.
To successfully confront our urgent and critical shared problems we need to listen to one another and work together. This means embracing the proven yet neglected practice of genuine dialogueGenuine dialogue, briefly introduced here, is a powerful, well-defined communication practice that will be discussed in depth in forthcoming essays.. Instead of immediately trying to convince you of the superiority of my point and the folly of yours, in genuine dialogue we begin our discourse by simply seeking to accurately understand each other’s views and the life experiences that led us to them. Engaging each other this way transforms our ability to deal with problems constructively.
As we all experience personally in our own relationships and observe daily in our increasingly polarized public sphere, conducting authentic give-and-take when our views and interests differ can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, even in the face of growing urgency, our culture offers little support for this kind of individual and collective development. We even face deeply entrenched socioeconomic forces that actively work against our natural desire to become more complete human beings living in a just and healthy society.
Indeed, in the present era of accelerating social and political breakdown the opposite ethic is on the rise. Instead of being encouraged to step back toward the depths of our being where we can produce more creative thoughts and constructive actions, we are cheered and rewarded when we shoot first and question ourselves later (if ever).
This is not a political commentary, at least not aimed in any single direction. Lunging forward in word or deed with an excess of speed and zeal and a deficit of awareness and consideration is ubiquitous across the spectrum – on social media, in our neighborhoods and common spaces, in the halls of government.
But hope is also in the air. People are expressing growing concern about this trend toward knee-jerk intolerance and open hostility. Awareness is expanding that we need to reawaken our deep-seated sense of our common humanity if we hope to address today’s urgent crises and create the beautiful world that we know deep in our hearts is still possible.
I believe this revitalization is more achievable now than it has ever been. Our deepening systemic crises may prove just the catalyst we need to finally break out of our long-standing dysfunctional habits and create more life-affirming ways of being together in our shared home. And reconnecting to the core goodness in ourselves and others is the golden key to making this transformation possible.
Not everyone can be on the front lines in the struggle for all that is self-evidently righteous and good – such as human kindness, planetary stewardship, pluralistic society and democratic self-government, and honest communication and genuine dialogue at every level. But everyone earnestly striving to be a responsible citizen and lead a principled life advances the noble cause.
Whatever our individual path, the smartest, boldest and most productive commitment we can make is to awaken and connect to our inner core of love and strength, and to recognize and appeal to the same in others.
We need to bring the time-honored quest to know our luminous inner core down from the lofty perch of saints and mystics and into the realm of common folks like you and me. The time is now.