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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2702

Our Biggest Global Challenge: Separation or Connectivity?

By Dr. Stephen Long - Los Angeles, California

Even though it is very disturbing, I’m not really shocked or even surprised by the current Buddhist/Muslim conflicts in Sri Lanka and Myanmar; we’ve seen it all before – many times. To be fair, conflicts like these are not only in these two South Asian countries.

Everywhere you look around the globe you can find similar clashes – some rooted in race, some in religion, some tribal, some based on ideology. Conflicts are abundant, and the US is no exception; just read our headlines on any given day and you’ll find plenty of them. So why are there suddenly so many hot-spots on our small planet? It seems that no one feels secure; so many feel threatened and/or marginalized; and no one feels relaxed or comfortable any more – including my immigrant friends in our peaceful “sanctuary city” of Los Angeles.

The ubiquitous, hurtful panoply of conflicts are expressions of Separation, the prevailing paradigm and worldview that envelopes the planet today. The world is enshrouded in divisive rhetoric, violence, prejudice, and hatred, and it’s become a trend, which is picking up momentum with each new national election. Political leaders in several countries (e.g. Trump in America, Duterte in the Philippines, Kurz in Austria, Babis of the Chech Republic, and several others) are getting elected that embrace this view of Separation. Xi Jinping is just about to be dubbed “President for Life” in China, and no one doubts his designs of conquest, which will put China first and every other country somewhere below it.

Separation is expressed as nationalism, jingoism, wars, economic sanctions, disparity of wealth, trade tariffs, military parades, immigration bans, refugee crises, and the building of Walls and increased border defenses. All of these are bi-products of Separation, which is based on the belief that it’s a country’s duty and a mark of national pride to look after “Us before Them,” or think “There’s not enough for all of us,” or “We were here first,” or “We’re the masters that deserve to hoard all the wealth,” or “This is a Buddhist country.” Symptoms of the Separation paradigm are myriad and cross all national, state, and provincial borders and cultural divides.

So if the worldview of Separation is the cause of all of this grief, then how did it become so? What is its source? Is it sourced in religion, politics, ideology, or the so-called culture wars? In the case of Sri Lanka, the Buddhist/Muslim conflict is not borne of the teachings of either religion; fundamentally, both doctrines preach peace and co-existence. On the surface, Sri Lankan politics upholds the lip-serviced notion that all religions are tolerated and protected by the Constitution, and the idea that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country is not so much an ideology as it is a fundamental element of programming in the fabric of the collective Sinhalese zeitgeist. To my knowledge there is no evidence that countries have religions, and as a matter of fact, the idea that countries even have borders is nothing more than a geopolitical agreement. The notion that America is a Christian country is just as ludicrous, and the jingoists who want to keep Muslims out and build walls to protect us from Mexican gangs and rapists are nothing more than ignorant, racist, self-centered bullies.

As the Buddha taught, all conflicts arise with the idea of “Me,” “I,” and “Mine.” These false identity beliefs start the ball rolling toward Separation, and they prevent people from seeing their inherent connectivity with others. Not just with other people, but with All That Is – including the animals, the Earth, and the Universe. The natural world is exploited and polluted because people don’t see that they are fouling an actual part of themselves. Connectivity is something that cannot be refuted; even cutting-edge science informs us that all there is is energy – that all we are is energy. If everyone is made of the same thing, then how can we distrust, persecute, kill, or burn the homes and shops of another? How can we not look after one another, and create societies where all are included and all apparent differences are respected?

Over the years, Connectivity has become the centerpiece of my work. I recently completed a new book entitled “The Connectivity Principle: Healing the Wounds of Separation.” The Principle in question states:

”Everything in the Universe, including all living beings, is energetically related to everything else because of the inherent Connectivity of all things to the same Source. This principle invalidates the notion of “separation,” and reinforces the universal mandate for human beings to be mindfully tolerant, kind, loving, compassionate, and supportive towards each other, the Earth, and all that is, at all times, with no exceptions.”

This message of Connectivity is crucial if we are all to survive on this troubled planet. We have to learn to connect with our fellow man – especially if we are confined within natural borders (like an ocean in the case of Sri Lanka) or man-made borders (like the United States, which mercilessly wiped out its previous inhabitants). Right now none of us really have time to indulge ourselves in ridiculous tribal wars based on religion, ideology, or out of date belief systems.

From my book, “To demonstrate how crucial the message of Connectivity is for these strange, transitional times, I will quote Dr. Ervin Laszlo, a gifted futurist, philosopher, and twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize:

“We live in a crucial epoch – an epoch of instability and change. The future is open. We could go down in chaos and catastrophe, or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to a peaceful and sustainable world. The choice between extinction and evolution is real. We need to understand how it came about and what it entails.

“The first thing to understand is that the choice of destiny before us is not accidental; the way the world in which we live develops has a logic of its own. This logic is the logic of evolution, in nature as well as in society. Its hallmark is the alteration of periods of relative stability with epochs of increasing, and ultimately critical instability. When instability reaches the critical point, the system either collapses or shifts to a new state of dynamic stability.
These critical ‘tipping points’ constitute Macroshifts, which involve all aspects and segments of society: the rich and the poor, the economic and the political systems, the private as well as the public sector.

“We are approaching the threshold not only of a local or national but of a global Macroshift, driven by the cumulative impact of the unreflective use of potent technologies. Shortsighted power-and profit-hunger coupled with powerful technologies has triggered climate change, is producing famine and water scarcity, and is leading to coastal flooding as well as to a host of related and equally threatening process in the ecology. Within the structures of civil society it is producing growing gaps between rich and poor, with attendant frustration, fundamentalism, and terrorism, triggering crime, violence, and war.

“The threat of extinction is real, but it is avoidable. At the critical phase of a Macroshift fresh opportunities open, including the opportunity to evolve. In this case the opportunity is not to evolve genetically, for we are not merely a biological species, but to evolve socially and culturally, to a new society and a new culture – to a new civilization.”

“Dr. Laszlo’s words are disturbing, and, at the end, they offer a cautious note of optimism. They also contain a clear warning that we had better get it together quickly – or else.”

My advice to the people of Sri Lanka, Myanmar, to the people of America, and to people in any other country that will listen is to quickly get it together, broaden your View, understand that Separation is a myth, and embrace the sentiments of The Connectivity Principle as your prevailing Moral Compass. I truly believe that time is of the essence, and none of us have the time to indulge ourselves – either individually or collectively – in the nonsense games of You vs. Me.

1Ervin Laszlo, Quantum Shift in the Global Brain: How the New Scientific Reality Can Change Us and Our World, Inner Traditions, 2008, pg. 17-18

- Asian Tribune -

Our Biggest Global Challenge: Separation or Connectivity?
Our Biggest Global Challenge: Separation or Connectivity?
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