There is meaning to life.
Throughout time consciousness is expanding toward a goal and humanity is
Most human progress is so
gradual it goes unnoticed in day-to-day affairs.
Some even argue there is
no progress—but if we make it a point to look carefully at where
we are now as compared to where we have been the picture changes.
Let’s begin with considering that in primitive man, the
earliest signs of awareness and consciousness were directed toward nature and
His identity was not personal
but rather as part of a tribe or clan wherein all outsiders were considered
At what point was there a
growing longing for ‘something more’?
can’t see back that far but get hints from stories and myths carried forward in
the oral tradition (such as Gilgamesh and various Creation stories).
Then a phenomenon occurred during the first millennium BCE,
roughly between 800-200 BC, there was a change in human consciousness
throughout most of the inhabited world.
It was the period of time in which rigid and closed tribalism gave way
to dynamic human interaction that became civilization as we know it.
That period is now called the Axial Age, so
named by the philosopher Karl Jasper in 1870 as that period represents a
pivotal change in human thought with the birth of philosophy and all major
Jasper wrote: “The spiritual
foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently in China,
India, Persia, Judea and Greece.
these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today.”
That in itself seems curious . . . there was no
intercommunication between these remote areas, yet it was almost as if it were
‘time for humanity to wake up’.
caused the awakening? . . . the seed to break out of its shell, the butterfly
to emerge from its chrysalis? . . . Clearly the time had arrived!
Was it the invisible hand of God guiding
humanity to the next step needed for civilization to emerge?
Or was it simply what was required by the
circumstances of having become more densely packed?
Or was it individual persons thinking more
deeply about the ‘something’ of their longing?
Or was it all of that together?
Whatever the forces at work, it happened; there was a consciousness
change that brought deep questions, a searching for meaning and the discovery
of selfhood apart from ‘tribe’.
Now, lets look at what might be considered human
It is easy to acknowledge
technological advances—things that didn’t exist but once discovered changed
humanity and the world:
the humble loom,
printing press, steam engines, the sewing machine, electricity, telegraph &
telephone, airplane, computer . . . all introduced by the human.
Those are things
by human ingenuity and are
readily accepted as examples of progress because of the direct benefit they
progress is less obvious, moves at a slower pace and is
resisted because it comes at a cost and demands change.
But we can
chart its progress:
Where there was once
unrestrained use of brute force to overpower neighboring territories to rape
and plunder and lay claim . . . that mitigated to a less obvious conquest
mentality of explorers planting a national flag and ‘claiming’ a newly
discovered ‘primitive lands’, pushing back or enslaving the natives . . . which
changed again with developed nations ‘colonizing’ territories, treating the
natives a bit more kindly and ‘civilizing’ them while harvesting whatever
valuable resources the land had to offer (not exactly embracing humanitarian
compassion but baby steps to ‘less cruel’) . . . and now, colonization is
frowned upon and technically abandoned in the 20th
respect for human rights shows advancement.
Social change is slow and hard fought but when evaluated
through the eye of justice, and given time, we come to the right
Slavery was an institution
since the beginning of time, yet in the mid-1800, following a bloody war it was
finally acknowledged by society that slavery was incompatible with
That view, however, did
not extend to discrimination which took another 100 years to reach public
awareness as unjust and was overthrown without violence by way of peace marches
led by Martin Luther King Jr.
so much more yet to be done but this gives evidence to humanity’s progress.
In one of Dr. King’s inspiring speeches he
spoke these words:
“The Arc of the Moral
Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
That is the nature of human progress—humankind choosing
to move toward Justice, Truth and Love is the expansion of
education for all, not just the privileged
realizing an obligation to care for the sick and wounded
philanthropic concern for those in need
formulating the Declaration of Human Rights
-- using diplomacy
and striving to end war
These give evidence to human progress—to become less cruel
and more compassionate, to move toward positive values . . . it will never be
complete and never absolute but progress is measured by humans collectively choosing
for the good.