Back on December 12, our Caux Round Table fellows met for their quarterly meeting over Zoom to share reflections and concerns as 2023 entered the history books. A summary of their comments is here:
The question was asked: what happened to cosmopolitanism? Why has particularity replaced universality? The collective over the individual? The volk over the human?
(For the U.S., this raises the question: is there an American volk? Hillary Clinton denigrated about half the American people as being “deplorable.” Was that her way of saying they did not belong to the American volk? When the southern border of the country is open, does that illustrate that Americans have no sense of being a “volk”?)
When systems close in on themselves, lose ties to the cosmopolitan, they trigger an increase in entropy. Entropic forces then whirl and spin and so chaos results. Such a system stagnates, internalizes and polarizes emotions and psychic energies, losing, bit by bit, any sense of a common good, of continuity from the past into the future.
Now Americans (and many others) have no clear vision of their future. They don’t know what to do. They are passengers, not drivers. They are frightened, having lost hope. Tomorrow will be as today is and today is as yesterday was. One senses trauma, but uncertainty over how to process distress and dis-alignment, which deepens the traumatic mode of being.
Simple answers provide comfort. Blaming others deflects responsibility.
Resilience is needed more than ever. Relationships need creating and tending. Risks need to be foreseen and mitigated. Solidarity from the bottom up, not engineering from the top down, is needed. An engineered system is a closed one, like a steam engine. A solidarity system evolves and invokes mutuality and reciprocity.
Whose narrative is correct? What paradigms make the most sense and provide the best guidance? Which are superstitions?
The fights are on to have the unchallenged word. Globally, the fights are not really over land, but over morality, identity.
We must rebuild, taking nothing for granted and rethinking assumptions, starting with an understanding of who we are as humans – of what is our nature.
In the middle ground, there is hope, as the Buddha advised.