Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Politics, Teilhard and the World's Future" by Sister Delio OSF

..."We live in an evolving, unfinished universe, which means the one thing we all share is the future. In Teilhard's view, we must co-create the future together. He saw that computer technology would be our most significant evolver in the modern age. The rise of the internet has given way to Google Earth; mass communication, air travel, space travel, and artificial intelligence have all rapidly altered the map of human consciousness in such a radical way that there is no turning back. According to Moore's law, which states that computing power is doubling every two years, evolution is speeding up. As a result, we are evolving at an exponential rate. Not only will we not return to any former halcyon days, but we are heading for greater convergence and complexification of consciousness, whether we want to or not. The question is not "Can we go back?" but "What are we evolving into?"
In his own day, Teilhard looked around the world and realized that the population cannot sustain unlimited growth. Nor can we continue to spread the human community around the globe; we have maxed out the available space on Earth to set up home. Now we face the brick wall of compression because we have a world of limited supplies.
Teilhard indicated that we must evolve by unifying or suffer the pain of annihilation. As he wrote in his The Phenomenon of Man: "The success of humanity's evolution will not be determined by 'survival of the fittest' but by our own capacity to converge and unify." He saw that the internet could stimulate the next phase of evolution by linking humanity around the globe, mind to mind and heart to heart, if we use it for this aim. In some ways, it is already doing so. However, we cannot gather ourselves on this new level of mind — what he called the noosphere — unless we have political structures and public policies that support this new phase of global life.
The present political climate is zapping our energies and instilling a new level of fear, just the opposite of what Teilhard saw we needed: a zest for life and a grand option for the future. In his words: "A higher socialization of humankind can only be brought about if people have the will and energy to work for it, if they deeply believe in the positive value of the future." Otherwise, he said, we are a species doomed to extinction.
That is why, quite frankly, the slogan "take back our country" frightens me. We cannot return to Puritan America, where "Leave it to Beaver" modeled the ideal family who gathered on Sunday evening to watch "The Ed Sullivan Show." The days of American triumphalism are over. We are evolving into a new world community, a new consciousness of being America that includes religious and ethnic pluralism and a global economy; we are participants in a global community. We need political structures that realize a shared species on a shared Earth. We are not kings and queens ruling the world; we are part of an indivisible whole. The sooner we can develop new political structures that support the evolution of global humanity, the more zest for life we will have, a zest kindling new energy to create a more unified world."
[Ilia Delio, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Washington, D.C., is the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University. She is the author of 16 books and the general editor of the series Catholicity in an Evolving Universe. Her newest book is Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology and Consciousness (Orbis Books 2015).]

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