Sunday, May 13, 2018
It’s become a truism, a cliché, to point out something truly remarkable: Human civilization is in the midst of an existential crisis. The ecology of the living Earth — long pushed beyond its sustainable capacities — has issued a near-future-stamped “change-or-face-eviction” notice to humankind. Meanwhile, many other human systems — social, political and cultural — are simultaneously in crisis. Economic inequality is becoming ever more grotesque. And culture wars over injustice, racism, homophobia and sexism are rapidly intensifying. These are the political crises we collectively recognize.
But we rarely publicly acknowledge that we’re also in the midst of an existential spiritual crisis. By that I do not mean that fewer of us believe in God or attend church than we did 50 years ago. I use the word “spiritual” here to refer to our sources of higher inspiration — meaning, value, compassion, care, generosity, goodness, truth and beauty — often linked to experiences of higher states and structures of consciousness. Feelings of alienation, loneliness and meaninglessness pervade many lives. Forty years into the neoliberal experiment, we see not only increasing material impoverishment, but also a profound and rising spiritual hunger. Many are finding meaning in a new spiritual renaissance. But for others, spirituality is a coping strategy. Our two crises — spiritual and political — are deeply interlinked.