by Barbara A. Kerr
This is your invitation to join us in using your creative imagination to envision a better future for all living beings. You are invited to imagine yourself as a member of a group of cosmic consultants during the next few minutes. We call ourselves the Compassionate Ones Consulting Group (COCG) because it is compassion, which springs from our super powers of insight and empathy for all living species anywhere in the universe, that motivates us to relieve suffering wherever we find it. You must imagine that the Compassionate Ones Consulting Group is not of the Earth but is somewhere outside it, an objective group of observers.
Do you accept this invitation? Come on then--come along on this imaginative journey with us!
Plan of Action by the COCG
The Compassionate Ones have recently picked up a distress call from one tiny corner of the universe in the Milky Way Galaxy, and more specifically, from the planet Earth. Because we’ve been studying the activities there for some time now and have become increasingly dismayed, we’ve decided to answer the call. Although we work in ways that are similar to those who go in to evaluate an organization’s current situation and provide options for resolving problems and moving forward, we have a special talent that sets us apart from all other consulting groups. We are powerfully creative storytellers who are motivated by our deep compassion for all living beings throughout the universe. Because compassion itself is so powerful, we have learned that simply by telling a story of compassion, the COCG has the ability to create a state of well-being for any and all living creatures who open themselves to it.
Like other consultants, we begin by listening, telling our client’s story as truthfully as we can from the beginning, and then, always mindful of our compassion for all beings, we create a map to a desirable future. Are you ready to join us on this consulting contract? To sum up what we are about, here’s the task before us:
Evaluate the current state of the species called humans on the planet Earth, and, using compassion as the motivating and driving principle, create a story for a bright and shining future, a future that is full of hope, joy, gratitude, justice, and well-being for all.
Origin of the Species
To begin at the beginning, we need to investigate the story of how the humans arrived in this particular corner of the great expanding universe in the first place—but even the humans do not agree among themselves about this fundamental issue. Instead, they have a variety of stories about the creation of their world and of themselves—some of them very colorful and imaginative, many of them containing images and ideas that overlap from one story to another, often involving unseen beings or forces, which they refer to as spirits or gods.
In fact, the humans have listed over a hundred “creation myths” on their current communication system, the “Internet.” While some of the more than seven billion Earth humans (a number that is quickly growing) are quite attached to their myths and take their particular stories literally, many others view them as metaphors that help them explain why humans exist at all. Some of the stories even predict the ending of the story for the humans—like a final destruction of all of them, or for all but a few who get to live eternally somewhere else. Other stories indicate that some of the humans will be transformed and transported to another world at a certain date, or that humans will return again and again in different physical bodies until they eventually learn the lessons they need to know and no longer have to repeat the cycle of life on Earth.
Basically then, the humans do not really have any agreement about which story best explains why they are there and where they may be headed. This is a bit problematic in our storytelling, as we like to begin at the beginning. However, more recent developments have provided an alternative pathway for establishing some foundation for this species. In the latter part of the twentieth century, building on several centuries of observation and theorizing by a number of remarkable individuals, many of the humans have come to more or less accept a set of theories that propose the idea that the humans evolved from other animal species in Africa (one of the large land masses on the Earth’s surface) probably around 338,000 Earth years ago. This idea was corroborated most recently by their observations (they call such observations “science”) of the genetic material of humans throughout the planet. In truth, these theories are not accepted by everyone on the Earth, but in writing a future for this species, this explanation may be as good a place as any to begin our understanding of the humans’ existence, development, and future.
The Human Stories
Next, as we try to imagine a brighter future for the human species, we will want to consider the stories that have been written about the humans by the humans themselves beginning with their rather simple picture stories in caves, and then their use of a stylus pressed into clay, and then their development of written alphabets that allowed them to write their words on animal skins and a variety of other materials to preserve those ideas and hopes for other humans who would come after them.
During the past 2,500 years or so (out of the 338,000 years since they appeared in Africa) many of the humans have sought to write down the facts about what the humans have observed, what they have accomplished, what they have discovered, and what has happened to them and to the other humans. They call many of these stories “history,” some are “science,” and others are called “novels.” All reveal how the humans think and feel and behave. A few centuries ago, they learned to print on paper and bind the papers into books, and preserve the books in large facilities called libraries. Eventually, all they had to do was press buttons to see their words appear on lighted screens and then save and retrieve them as electronic images in a vast network of machines and something they call “cyberspace.”
In order to get a clear picture of the challenges of the current situation on Earth—the reason that the COCG has been called in to consult for the humans—we can use these stories to understand the human journey up to this point. Now in their twenty-first century of recorded history, they have a great many useful lessons stored in their libraries and in their electronic storage spaces. Fortunately, we Compassionate Ones have the ability to perform a quick scan of all this material.
We find that most of the human stories can be divided into two major categories. The first group of stories tells how the humans have discovered, coped with, and manipulated their physical environment—often with an eye to bringing it under their control. The second category of these stories provides many, many examples of how the humans have treated and related to other humans and to other living beings on the Earth.
As consultants, we need to provide a summary of these two threads in order to map a way forward. Those billions of words and stories are what we have to work with as we write a new reality, a story that will resolve their current distress and lead them to a better future. Let us consider both categories.
Manipulating and Controlling the Physical Environment
Despite a great deal of evidence within their own libraries and stores of knowledge, the humans are presently struggling with the concept of whether they actually have an impact on their environment. They are quite well aware that they have been able to control the growth of plants and animals on the planet, making use of this ability to provide food and, in the case of animals, to relieve them of some physical labor. Their stories also show that they are aware of their accomplishments in harnessing the power of water, electricity, fossil fuels, chemicals, and of other natural materials to provide the humans with better and better food, clothing, shelter, transportation, communication, education, and entertainment.
In more recent centuries, they have discovered that they can do even more by inventing machines to do the work that they once did or that animals once did for them. They are understandably proud of these manipulations, discoveries, and inventions—their “progress”--and indeed, as a species the humans are increasingly stronger, healthier, and able to live longer lives. At the same time, they are now becoming aware that as a byproduct of all this progress, they have unleashed terrible amounts of radiation and toxic chemicals into the atmosphere that surrounds them and into the water that sustains them. They have drilled, and mined, and drained away many precious resources under their feet, but they are not yet in agreement about whether these resources are finite or will be available forever.
They are able to fly humans from one place to another across the face of the planet and even into outer space. They have split atoms, found cures for many diseases, and replaced hearts and livers. They have seen into the unseen world of elemental particles and calculated the vastness of the universe. Yet they do not agree about whether it is the humans who have really caused any changes to their environment. Despite quite visible evidence—smog-layered cities, polluted streams and rivers, the dying out of a number of species--as well as the observations of their scientists about melting glaciers, rising seawaters, and holes in their atmosphere, many of them fall back on their ancient stories to explain why they exist and what will happen to their species in the future.
Manipulating and Controlling Other Living Beings
But the humans are struggling with something even more significant now in their twenty-first century of recorded history. They have, with the passing of each century, greatly increased their ability and their capacity to destroy their own species and other species as well. The sticks and stones of their pre-historic ancestors have been transformed into all manner of destructive weapons from knives and swords to cannons and guns, to tanks and robotic aircraft, to exploding bullets and bombs that can maim and kill their fragile fellow human beings in great numbers.
As a particularly sad part of their history, an aspect that is difficult for the COCG to fully comprehend, many groups of humans have long held the belief that other groups are not as good as they are, that other groups can and should be controlled and subjugated, and that those who disagree with them or want the same things they have deserve to die. Their own written histories tell many instances of one group destroying thousands and even millions of humans who belonged to other groups. The trajectory of violence toward their own species seems to have grown with the increasing number of humans on the Earth, but in any case, it seems to have been an aspect of their behavior from early on.
Within the borders of areas called countries, and across those borders, there remain individuals and groups who seek to manipulate and control other humans—sometimes because the other humans are perceived to be defective in some way, dangerous or threatening to those who wish to be in control, or simply perceived to be fatally different from some other group. In the humans’ own electronic records published on their Internet, we are able to find a list going back a mere forty Earth years of wars and conflicts that resulted in more than a thousand deaths per year—about three million people in just forty years! That doesn’t even take into account one of their previous modern conflicts known as World War II—possibly nine million total human deaths related to war, nor the many “skirmishes” that resulted in less than a thousand human deaths per year since that time. In addition, in recent years, the human species has become quite clever in devising methods for harming others within their own communities—in theaters, in schools, in businesses, in hospitals, in prisons, and on all modes of transportation. Some individuals sacrifice themselves in order to destroy large numbers of others, often quite innocent, in the name of an ideology, a religion, a national loyalty.
An Idea to Build Our Story On
To be fair, there are also a great number of humans who struggle against the idea of manipulating and controlling other human beings—and a smaller number who also struggle against the manipulation and killing of other animal species. Others are working to preserve physical resources of the Earth. And some of the humans are also focused on being compassionate to the entire network of inter-connected life systems that exist on Earth—of plants and animals, of water and air, of physical resources and a shared human history. After a thorough search of the humans’ stories—in music, books, magazines, electronic media, movies, theater, and art, we Compassionate Ones find hope and a way forward in this particular population of humans. Fortunately, they can be found dwelling everywhere throughout the global community. It is on these humans, those who understand the interconnectedness of all and the need to act with compassion toward all, that we will build our story.
How the Humans Resolved their Obstacles – A Story
In the early part of the twenty-first century on Earth, human leaders in politics, religion, education, science, business, and the arts were all beginning to read the signs that their world and its more than seven billion people was on a dangerous path, a path that could lead to the destruction of their species on the planet Earth. Floods and earthquakes and tsunamis and droughts woke up some of the populations. Mass killings, genocides, and violence committed in the name of hate awoke others. Massive protests of the have-nots against the haves became a common occurrence, and man’s inhumanity to man (their own phrase) was to be observed everywhere. At a quarter of the way through their twenty-first century, almost all groups recognized that the humans were indeed on a path of destruction but were despairing of a solution.
Behind the scenes, however, a growing number of enlightened people were working to bring about change. While some few worked on finding a way to transport people off the planet and sought a refuge on other worlds, a great many others had begun working to improve the physical environment—to slow down the use of resources, to identify renewable sources of energy, to educate people about how to preserve the natural world for generations to come. They had to fight against those who resisted change and who resisted giving up their comfort and convenience for the greater good. But little by little, the movement to “green” the planet made inroads into the consciousness of the humans. When renewable energies (solar, wind, bio-fuels) finally reached a crucial mass in some of the more technologically advanced countries, the social and political structures of the human species were also challenged to change.
At the same time, others were working to foster understanding and compassion among those who clung to the ancient stories, helping them to look forward and to bring their stories together around what they called the Golden Rule, a thread that could be found throughout the Earth’s many human cultures. Paralleling the “green” movement, the “compassion” movement sought to change people’s hearts, to broaden their understanding of humans as one family.
And that was when the magic happened. Those who were working to save the planet and those who were working for peace among all people came together with Compassion as their uniting and motivating force. Slowly, they were able to help others understand that compassion for all of life—for the animals and the plants as well as the humans—could sustain the species of humans, remove them from their path of destruction, and create a world of well-being for all.
How the Magic Happened
A great mass of humans—what they call a “tipping point”--came to view the planet as a living organism in which every part was connected to the whole, in which suffering in any one place caused the entire organism to suffer. The billionaires, finally frightened into realization by where the path was leading, gave freely to heal and educate those they had long ignored. Movements for equality and respect—in gender, race, national origin, age, religion, and sexual orientation—were gently folded into the movement for Compassion. They began mapping their compassionate actions, small everyday kindnesses within human communities as well as generous donations to feed, educate, and care for strangers on the other side of the globe. And they saw the seeds of compassion, planted among so many human hearts, grew beyond their wildest dreams to infuse city after city, then country after country with compassion.
Humans throughout the world employed their advanced technology to share resources of knowledge, of food, of art, of culture, and they learned that they had more in common than they had believed. The differences that had seemed irreconcilable—in religion, in political ideology, in cultural practices—were transformed when they received respect and acceptance, when the humans understood that their differences made their lives and their world richer, not poorer.
The humans learned to work together to understand the human brain and human emotions, and to address the terrible effects that the lack of compassion had on their fellow humans. They increased their compassionate acts for the imprisoned, the abused, the mentally ill, and the physically or mentally challenged to help all of them lead lives with joy and hope, to partake in the human family with compassion for all. They discovered that compassionate acts caused an exponentially increasing number of compassionate actions throughout the world—for animals and plant species and even insects and microscopic organisms that had long been ignored.
Note to New Consultant
The COCG has prepared this report and story as a draft only. As one of our new consultants, you are invited to evaluate the story and suggest changes. We welcome your thoughts. So—what would you do to write an even better story for the humans?