Is Humanity Really Progressing? (An Interview)

Is Humanity Really Progressing? (An Interview)
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Courtesy of OWN/Photographer: Lauren Randolph

I think we all can agree that collectively, we are in a moment of tremendous change and upheaval in our society. In nearly every corner of the world, movements of great restructuring are beginning to emerge, causing momentous growing pains and spiritual, social, and political awakenings like we have never seen before.

In my worldview, I have believed that humanity is on an evolutionary trajectory towards progress. With every passing generation, new ideas and efforts emerge that help move us as a species towards our highest potential for healing and wholeness. Yet after the dozens of painful events that have shaken society over the past few years, my paradigm of evolutionary progress has been challenged and I have found myself wondering if we are truly moving forward as a species, or if things are actually getting worse.

On April 6, 2017, I traveled to the beautiful campus of UCLA in Southern California to ask this question to some of the leading social and spiritual luminaries on the scene today who had gathered for the third edition of Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sessions”, an annual day-long event where thousands gather to learn from thought leaders, activists, and creatives that are actively changing the world for the better.

During this event, I sat down with Gary Zukav, best-selling author of the spiritual classic The Seat of the Soul, Gabrielle Bernstein, best-selling author of The Universe Has Your Back, John Gray, pastor at Lakewood Church, the largest church in the United States, Glennon Doyle Melton, best-selling author of Love Warrior, and Angela Davis, founder of AMDIO Method.

The question I asked this all-star lineup of was this: “Just a year ago, I was sensing that we were in a moment of spiritual and social evolution in our culture, and just a year later, a lot has changed in our world. Many of us are beginning to think that maybe we’re not moving forwards, but backwards. What do you say to those of us at the margins and those who are really concerned about what’s happening in the world? Has everything we once believed about the trajectory of human consciousness false?”

Today, I want to share with you the responses that these amazing thought-leaders gave to this question:

Gabrielle Bernstein: “We’re bottoming out and that’s a good thing, because that bottom is a cracking open. It’s required of all of us to have a spiritual foundation right now in order to survive in these times and have faith with all of the uncertainty we’re living through. I am seeing it everywhere. People are waking up. So in the midst of all of the darkness, there is a lot of light. So, I believe we’re going forwards. Also, there is a turning point when people just get fed up. So the world is like “We’re fed up”, and this is a tremendous opportunity for growth.”

John Gray: “I think the key to any place of transformation is truth. I don’t believe that truth is based on multiple views; I believe truth is what is. When we look at this nation particularly, we have to examine the beginnings of it. When we look at where this country started and the history of the nation, it’s clear that we’ve never dealt with the foundational brokenness that established it. So all that we’ve been doing for the past 200 plus years is putting Band-Aids on a head wound. So until we address it at its root, we’re never going to heal because we’ve never dealt with the root issues. So if we look at this last election cycle and all that happened after that, all of the movements that rose up, and people are proclaiming “There’s change!” But is there really any change? Because the people who voted one way still believe what they believe, and those who voted the other way still believe what they believe. Right now one group is just more vocal, because the other ones have been shamed into silence, but it doesn’t change the reality of where we are. So, we’re dealing with the lens of every individual in this country, and then we’re looking around the world and seeing collective brokenness. For this nation, this is a moment of reckoning. Politics is downstream from society. We vote who we are. So the coasts voted for whom they voted for, and Middle America voted how they vote. And what was shocking was that the folks in New York and L.A. couldn’t believe that the folks in Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin would vote this way, but they don’t know who they are or how they got there. And until we address that, we’re never going to heal.”

Gary Zukav: “It is true that everything we’ve known is not true anymore. From my perspective, we’re in a great transformation of consciousness and before, we were a five-sensory species, and now we’re becoming multi-sensory, we’re becoming able to see beyond the five senses. And all of our social structures are changing. So if we’re talking about government, yes, everything that we knew as a five-sensory species isn’t true any longer. It doesn’t work any longer. The understanding of power as the ability to manipulate and control only produces violence and destruction. In terms of this nation, most people don’t understand that it is founded upon genocide and slavery. But even larger than that, people are beginning to understand that we must do something about that. I heard a rapper once who said, “I’ve got a right to be angry”, and I said, “You certainly do. But you also have a right to be loving.” And you have to make that choice, because we are in transformation. We’ve got one foot in a consciousness that’s dying. It’s familiar and it’s comfortable. And we’ve got another foot in a consciousness that’s being born. It’s saying, “Yes, the disillusionment that you see all around you is not the product of a pathology, but a profound, positive phenomenon. It’s the birth of new humankind. And if we have social structures that continue to be based on power as the ability to manipulate and control, they’re going to continue to be dysfunctional. They have no salvage value. So, now it’s up to all of us to begin to explore what the alternatives are, and they all have to do with self-responsibility, awareness, and multi-sensory perception, which means that it’s no longer so simple to say “He’s a villain” and “He’s a victim.”

Angela Davis: “The transition period is the greatest opportunity we have for transformation, because we’re no longer who we were and were not sure where we’re going, and that moment requires faith. For me, it’s in God that I trust, not in man. But we are anointed and appointed for this time and this season, and we are equipped for this season, and I agree that this is our greatest period for transformation in this transition period. We make choices all day, and at the end of the day, we are those choices. We must choose wisely.”

Glennon Doyle Melton: “The way that we can not end up in the same place that we were before, I believe, comes from the two most repeated phrases in my sacred text, The Bible. Those phrases are “Fear not” and “Remember”. And remember is such an interesting word because it can mean to recall things of old, but it can also be the opposite of dismember, which is a pulling back together. So I think that right now, we’re like a scattered puzzle, and our job is to pull back together as one human family, and the way that we do that is to “fear not”. Every time someone tells us to fear “the other”, we must see that as a lie. The truth is that “the other” is an illusion. This becomes really uncomfortable for me when I realize that my other is the Trump voter, and I have to start having conversations with them. That for me is the Samaritan and that’s the person that I’d cross the street to stay away from, and therefore, that’s the conversation that I must have. So, I think we’re in a place where we’ve got to start listening to each other, and have mercy for people who we would consider merciless, because we do not yet understand how they got there, and until we understand that, we will not be able to serve anyone.”

The theme in every response I received to this question is the same- yes, we are in a moment of transformation, and we have the choice to determine whether this is a step forward or a step backward. We must choose to listen, love, and understand those who we think of as our enemies if we are ever going to be able to address the root cause of our deepest divisions and heal. This, to me, feels like a realistic outlook on the world and a unique challenge for each one of us to consider. In what ways are we furthering division in our world? How are we participating in the oppression of others? Who do we need to learn from and understand better? And in what tangible ways can we choose today to bring progress to our lives and world.

We are in a pivotal moment of human history. How we respond now will determine whether we continue to progress forward as a species or if we choose the path of stagnation, which will lead to certain destruction of our planet. This is the era of the awakening to the power of human potential, which is an awakening to the necessity of human responsibility. Each one of us individually and all of us collectively must choose to be agents of reconciliation, healing, and growth if we are to create a hopeful and sustainable future for our lives and world. And we must begin today.

Who will you listen to? What will you do? How will you bring about healing and growth in the world today? May we all engage in the hard work of answering these questions not just with our thoughts, but with our lives.

To watch full videos of talks given by all of these thought leaders and many others, visit SuperSoul TV here.

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