Friday, October 23, 2009

Armchair Philosopy: Planetary Consciousness

Identity is a complicated matter -- knowing who you are and who else you identify with. It probably started being a problem when the first one-celled creature was able to say (so to speak): "This is me. This, however, is my food." Seriously though, our sense of identity is terribly important, and it extends far beyond the obvious distinctions. We "identify" with so many different kinds of entities -- people we feel connected to such as family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, others of the same sex or age or cultural group; institutions we belong to such as schools, churches, clubs, businesses; more abstract identification with political parties, environmental organizations, and so on. And, of course, there is national identity, language identity, and species identity ("This is me. This is my cat. This is my oak tree"). All are part of who we are and therefore worth thinking about in a considered way, not taken for granted or adopted carelessly.

Ever since we first saw the beauty of the earth from outer space,thanks to NASA photos, we have had another kind of identity possible: identification with all life on our planet earth, our planet among planets among galaxies, among universes. Awesome thought, isn't it? And now, more than ever, with so many of the really vital problems of our age being global problems, truly global solutions are called for. And the kind of consciousness that needs to "raised" to begin to address these issues is planetary consciousness -- part of who we are is that we all live together -- all peoples, all creatures, all plants -- on this earth. Long may it live!

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