Worldwide Discussion:

The last several installments in this headline series have outlined what we’ve all been taught about What God Wants. What was not said specifically was that the theology represented by these traditional teachings is a theology of separation. In this theology, humans are “down here” and God is “up there.”

Yet this is not simply a theological issue, because theology produces sociology. A theology of separation produces a sociology of separation. It is as simple as that.

That is exactly what has happened all over the earth. Humanity has created, and we now live in, a society of separation. Separation from God and separation from each other.

Now it’s true that in spite of our sociology of separation, we have had some remarkable achievements. Human beings can split the atom, create a cure for disease, send a man to the moon and crack the genetic code of life itself. Yet, sadly, many people—perhaps the largest number—cannot do the simplest thing.

Get along.

Why is this, do you imagine?

Think about this.

With all that humans have been taught through their myths, in their cultural stories, and by their religions—with all that humans have been told about God and about Life by their ancestors and their elders and their ministers and their priests and their rabbis and their mullahs—how is it that, in the collective experience of a huge portion of humanity, it hasn’t done any more good?

But it hasdone a lot of good, you may say. The world is a better place than it was before. People do not act as they did in primitive times. They live in peace in most places, and they are not violent.

No, they are not. Most people are not. We can agree on that. But can we agree on this? Collectively, humanity is unceasingly and increasingly violent with its own kind.

This Part VI in a extended series of headline articles in The Global Conversation.

Allowing people to go hungry is a form of violence.

Placing life-saving drugs and the finest medical care out of reach of millions is a form of violence.

Underpaying laborers while taking huge front office profits is a form of violence.

Mistreating, underpaying, denying promotions to, and mutilating females is a form of violence.

Racial prejudice is a form of violence.

Child abuse, child labor, child slavery, child prostitution, child trafficking, and child soldiering is a form of violence.

The death penalty is a form of violence.

Denying civil rights to people because of their sexual preference or their religion or their ethnicity is a form of violence.

Creating and maintaining a worldwide society in which exploitation, oppression, and injustice are commonplace is a form of violence.

Ignoring suffering is as much a form of violence as inducing it.

In 2004 humanity watched 50,000 people die and over 1.5 million forced from their homes during ethnic fighting in the Darfur region of Sudan. The world stalled and stumbled and did little or nothing for many months as this went on. That is the mark of an extraordinarily primitive society, too timid, too weak, too stultified, or, worse yet, too self-involved to be able to put a quick stop even to genocide.

Are you growing a little impatient with the narrative here? I don’t blame you. It’s tough to look at how things are, at how they really are, in our world. We’d like to stay on the sunny side of things. We’d like to keep thinking positively, keep feeling good about life. No one wants to look at the bad stuff.

But if we don’t spend at least a little bit of time looking at the bad stuff, how are we going to change it? Is the best way to change something to not acknowledge that it’s there?

I don’t think so. There’s a line in the wonderful Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman in which Linda, the outraged wife of Willy Loman, cries out to her grown sons to notice the tragedy before them in the form of a father whose life is crumbling right in front of their eyes, and to notice what he has gone through in life, and what he has tried to give them. “Attention must be paid,” she says with shaking voice. “Attention must be paid.”

We need to pay attention to the fact that our way of life is dying. We need to notice what the world has gone through, and what it has tried to give us. And we need to notice what we are doing, collectively and individually, in that world.

Attention must be paid.

In our world today an estimated 250 million children are working. Of these, more than 50 million between the ages of 5 and 11 are engaged in intolerable forms of labor. (The Progress of Nations 2000, Copyright: The United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, 2000) Does anybody care?

At any one time more than 300,000 children under 18, girls and boys, are fighting as soldiers with government armed forces and armed opposition groups in more than 30 countries worldwide, according to the Global Report on Child Soldiers (2001) published by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. While most child soldiers are aged between 15 and 18, the youngest age recorded in this report is seven.

For nearly two-thirds of the world’s people, life is a daily struggle. For half of that number, it’s a struggle for survival. Does anybody care?

Why do these conditions exist, do you think? Do you think it might have anything to do with the fact that we don’t see each other on this earth as members of the same family? Do you think it may be because we imagine that we are separate from each other?

For whatever the reason, the fact is that the world has not put into place a system for sharing the abundance of the earth that works for everyone, but only for those who meet certain criteria of skin color or gender or religion or ethnicity.

The U.N. reports that donor countries allocate an average of just one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of their total gross national product to development assistance for poorer nations. Does anybody care?

And what is the stingiest developed nation in the world in terms of the proportion of total wealth that it donates? The United States, arguably, the world’s richestcountry. The richest is the stingiest.

Can this be possible? Yes. It’s possible and it’s true.

Now you might say, hey, wait a minute, the United States puts in more dollars than half of the other countries combined. And you’d be right. In actual dollars, you’re right. But the United States has more dollars than half the other countries combined. So, as a portion of what it has, the U.S. is the stingiest of all.

If you have ten dollars and you give your brother three because he is in trouble, and if your neighbor has fifty dollars and he gives his brother five, which one of you is more generous? Are you impressed by the fact that your neighbor gave more in actual numbers than you? Or are you mindful of the fact that he has five times as much as you, and therefore he could have given five times more? It might have been hoped that he would give in proportion to his wealth, don’t you think?

My own idea about this is echoed in the words of John F. Kennedy many years ago: “Of those to whom much is given, much is asked.”

But the U.S. is not alone in under prioritizing allocations for nations in need. All of the world’s richest countries in 2003 spent $60 billion to help the poorest countries address the problems of poverty, lack of education, and poor health. During the same period the spending of these richest countries for defense was $900 billion.

This led the president of the World Bank to suggest dryly that if the world simply reversed its priorities, the cost of defense would never have to exceed the smaller sum.

In a global society where the suffering of others really mattered—not just at the level of lip service, but at the level of doing something about it that actually changes things—such a reversal of priorities would be instant and automatic.

Because that shift in priorities has not taken place, violence of a more direct kind is becoming a way of life on the earth. More and more often these days, in more and more places, it takes the form of direct physical attacks by one person or group upon another.

The sign of a social order that is failing is that even among those people in the world whose lives are more comfortable and who are not overtly suffering, violence is on a dramatic upswing. When even those who should be contented are discontented, you know something’s wrong, you know you’re in trouble.

Violence is on an upswing not only on the streets of the Middle East, but on the streets of Europe; not only in the homes of the poor in Southeast Asia, but in the homes of the well to do in North America. That is why now in many countries metal detectors are found everywhere. At military installations and airports, where they might be expected, but also at places where they would once have been considered grotesquely out of place: shopping malls and hotels, department stores and nightclubs, and yes, even schools, churches, mosques, temples and synagogues.

That is why in London there are hidden cameras on the streets. It is said that the average person is photographed 300 times a day in London. In Chicago it has just been announced that hundreds of new street cameras are being installed throughout the city, adding to the thousands already there. All of this is for our protection, of course. It is about security. These cameras are programmed by computer to pick up any “unusual activity” and to send an alarm to police, fire, and other agencies, which will dispatch personnel at once.

Big Brother is watching you.

George Orwell gave that chilling description of everyday life on our planet in a book he wrote over 40 years ago. It took his nightmare world of 1984 twenty years longer than expected to be created, but created it has been, complete with Global Positioning Satellites that can pinpoint a person’s location within 50 feet, on-street surveillance cameras, government access to video rental and library withdrawal records and, in fact, scrutiny of virtually any kind of activity you undertake outside your home. Soon, there may be cameras in your home. Does anybody care?

All of this is necessary, we are told, because increasing numbers of people everywhere have become frustrated, angry, disaffected, unpredictable and more willing than ever to use violence.

Why is this, do you imagine?

Think about this.

And why have human theologies, to which humanity looks for the wisest answers to life’s most difficult questions, been unable to reverse this trend—to say nothing of heading it off in the first place?

The answer is that Separation Theology does not work. Yet people insist, to this moment, that it is What God Wants.

(Our exploration of this topic continues in Part VII of this extended series, coming very soon. Don’t miss a single entry. And if you wish to catch up on installments that you have missed, simply click on the word HEADLINE in the Categories list at right, then scroll down to find the column you wish to read.)

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  • Michael L

    Here is a thought…..

    Old idea….”The United States, arguably, the world’s richest country. The richest is the stingiest.”
    New idea…..17 trillion dollars in debt, and we won’t even get into the tens of trillions of unfunded liabilities coming up.
    I totally agree that war is not functional. So how many years whould it take to pay off our debt if we stopped funding war?

    • Stephen mills

      Hogwash Michael with one press of a button all debt could be eliminated its all fear based .

      • Michael L

        Thank you Steve for answering my question.
        Could you please push the button, so we can spend some more.

  • Kristen

    So glad our little world in NZ is so far behind the rest, you are crazy. Returning from overseas last year, I had my luggage x-rayed for the first time ever. Domestically I’m not even sure if we go through metal detectors, I haven’t noticed. We just check ourselves in on the self service machines, and walk to the boarding lounge and hop on the plane! We seem more concerned about biosecurity like dirty gumboots and insects than violence and weapons. Yes, it is still 1975, and we have as much violence and drug as everyone else, yet these things do not yet govern our world so we have remained normal!! Kind of. Probably as we have not separated from God, there are still many Jewish people, Muslims and Christians to hold onto the sanity, and our close bond with the real God through Law and our beautiful National Anthem. Which we mean, and aren’t infidels.

  • Christopher Toft

    “The answer is that Separation Theology does not work. Yet people insist, to this moment, that it is What God Wants.”

    I find it amazing that so few people have even heard of the very idea of oneness, I find it astonishing that many consider it nonsense and I find it extraordinary that scientists seem to completely ignore or dismiss the logical philosophical arguments for interconnectedness and impermanence. It is mind boggling that our most brilliant minds seem to look at the world, shrug and say “Ah well, human nature, that’s just the way we are”.

    We don’t see the connection. Literally. We don’t see the connection.

    • mewabe

      The idea of separation leads to power, and dominant power is a drug to which many are addicted, from scientists to theologians, to almost everyone but very young children, who still remember tender love, and perhaps a few dreamers, poets, artists, musicians and misfits who would rather love and celebrate life than conquer, control and dominate everything around them.

      Oneness is not even an idea…it is a reality that is as obvious as breathing in and out. As a matter of fact the breath is a fundamental expression of oneness. But “the ego trapped in a bag of skin” (Alan Watts) perceives otherwise.

  • “We’d like to keep thinking positively, keep feeling good about life. No one wants to look at the bad stuff.”

    I think many people are very willing to look at the bad stuff & are willing to do something about it.

    The push back from the powers at be, make it incredibly hard, slow & frustrating. The cards are stacked against the people in such a way that the monumental change that we desire is often overwhelming. That still does not stop some people. Imagine when we “All” get behind something?

    If we have a idea, a plan or tools, an organization etc. that people really believe in has great results, people will flock to help be it money, time, or talents.

    Change is coming as more wake uP. Society at large is simply getting tired of the old ways & that frustration like the guy who is so sick & tired of his dysfunctional cluttered garage, cleans it out. We are getting to that tired tipping point.

    We can blame corporations, government, the one percent etc & corporate media.

    We are regaining some of our power by our own social media to influence the world. It’s a start & the back lash people are giving say, to net neutrality is one way we are empowering ourselves against corporations that don’t have our best interest in mind.

    In 120 days we will see who wins out in this respect.

    • Bruce

      Good thoughts Marko but a real change of heart is a much deeper process that goes well beyond our ideas about what that looks like.
      The required journey here is well beyond our beliefs.
      This is an individual journey that can be observed in others and honed though practice.
      Later it may become a road travelled collectively if that practice becomes strong enough…kind of like a few raindrops gathering in a pool high in the mountains…if the pool gets large enough it could become the head of a mighty river and ultimately rejoin with the ocean to know itself as the spectacular power it truly is.

  • mewabe

    “Are you growing a little impatient with the narrative here?”

    Not at all, I am cheering!

    It is not so much that people do not want to look at “the bad stuff”, they look at bad stuff all the time IN THE FORM OF FICTION, entertainment. The truth is that people do not want to look at anything THAT SHAKES THEIR SENSE OF REALITY, that causes them to QUESTION THEIR WORLD and worldviews.

    So it really has nothing to do with “negativity” and everything to do with desperately clinging to their illusions and delusions.

    Separation is not just a theology. It is the very essence of the ego consciousness.The ego consciousness is the origin of a perception of and belief in separation, which leads to a primordial, existential fear, and a desire to acquire power and control over all life. Interestingly, the concept of personhood, which is rooted in the separate ego consciousness, originates from the word persona (Latin) or prosopon (Greek) originally referred to the masks worn by actors on stage.
    A mask is not the real thing…yet we act as if the ego consciousness was the real self, confusing DISTINCTION (we are all distinct and unique) with SEPARATION (we are not separate from anything, neither at the subatomic particle level nor at the spiritual level).

    The ego consciousness causes this perception of separation to take the place of identity, intensely fearing love and UNION as threats to this false identity. This is probably why humanity has such a problem with sexuality (union).

    THIS IS WHY OUR WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN, why peace and love are the enemies and war is glorified, why sex is immoral but blowing people up is not, why those who love are called weak or SUBVERSIVE or DREAMERS and those who kill are said to be strong and REALISTS, why fear is believed to be power.

    These pathological conditions are all the products of “the isolated ego trapped in a bag of skin”, as Alan Watts put it decades ago, which is the perception of reality most people have. From this distorted sense of reality, they have created theologies of separation TO MATCH THEIR PSYCHOLOGY. BUT THE ISOLATED EGO CAME FIRST. And this exactly where I disagree with Neale, who postulates that the theology came first, unless I misunderstood him.

  • Erin

    Fabulous, the way this is aspiring! The Peanut Gallery ‘here’ is cheering, too. 😀

    idk…I See the violence, feel the tensions, embracing of those in consequences, aware of opportunities that swirl within it all…I Am witness to the Storm.
    In fact, if no one else is noticing, I happened to catch the weather map of the U.S. just yesterday…Anyone See that the West Coast is alight with Fire, the East is drenching in Water, & the middle is about to run a torrent of tornado Air??? Hmmm…??? A conjuring, indeed! of Nature-works, no less! And sooo very little that specks of 2-leggeds can Do of any of it…Not even the 1% has power of This stuff, try as they might with their rights & Might…She IS “The Perfect Storm”…with Her own “Dark Horse” Spirit (thx, K. Perry).
    Nature has no bias, no racism, no regret, no ego to tend to…and man(kind) is about to have their socks rocked…along with every thing else! Interesting, indeed!
    Just an observe…:)

    • mewabe

      I have been waiting for nature to restore the balance for a very long time, and it is finally happening, a very practical and direct lesson in interconnectedness and interdependence…in practical oneness.
      Will humanity understand, or will it say that the “devil” is doing it? I have a feeling it will choose the latter option, because the first would demand self-responsibility.
      From the peanut out there in the gallery :))

      • Erin

        🙂 Ever hear of a comedian named Flip Wilson? He did a character who’s grand excuse was “The Devil made me do it!” heehee…just dated myself again, & got a chuckle from the irony of subject…If one is not “doing it” because ‘God said so’, then they are because Ol’ Lucifer did. But then we have parental figs who claim “Do it because ‘I’ said so!” Ugh…It’s a no-win!
        Nice to Know wiser. <3

  • Bruce

    As it has been said in many ways the disconnect here is between who we are and who we think we are.
    I don’t, at this moment, believe we can the effect positive changes required to reverse the deteriorating human condition that we all can see occurring with the thinking that created these conditions to begin with.

    • Bruce

      The short journey from the mind to the heart is the one that each of us must individually take before we can regain dominion over the mind induced insanity we are all experiencing collectively.
      Turning off our thoughts is a prior requirement to experiencing the silence of the moment where all change that can be effected actually begins.
      To be the change that we all wish to see we must first go within to develop the habits and practice that will ultimately allow each of us to access the full power of who we are.
      This power does not exist in words. While it can be discussed in a conversation it most certainly cannot be experienced or utilized without patient practice.
      Eckhart Tolle describes the situation this way: If you gave a human mind to a fish and then you asked it/he/she “How is the water?” the reply would be, “What water?”
      So how do I start such a practice? First learn to turn down the noise in your head or your incessant thoughts just like you would turn down a radio with music that was irritating you.
      From there you can find your own way to your inner being by many proven methods or create one of your own liking.
      Okay then let’s meet back here in a month and see how it’s going.
      I mean if we choose not to get busy the game will be over before it begins!

  • Bruce

    “Who is God? Where is the God that your whole thought action is centered or focused upon?”

    “God is not a great being outside of you, that you are going to bring within and then present to the world.”

    “God is that power which is generated and exhilarated by your own thought action.”

    “It is true that this power is within and all about you, but it is inactive until you think of it and know that it does exist.”

    “Then you see it flowing forth from you in limitless measure.”

    From Masters Of The Far East