Let’s face it: most people in the world are kind, loving and caring people whose voices are not heard over the sometimes deafening roar of the prejudiced, the materialistic, the greedy, etc. And even these people are not inherently evil; it’s just that because of a lack of moral education, they fell into some pretty unhealthy patterns of behaviour (to say the least). This leads to the question: how is it that, on a planet populated mostly by nice people, so many bad things are happening?
This might be related to the fact that the betterment of the world is dependent on a dual moral process: individual and societal. While there are more individuals that are nice, there are more societal processes that are not that nice. And I wonder if it has to do with the fact that the, well, “forces of evil” are much better organized that the “forces of good”, which gives them (unfortunately) an extra edge.
Most of the people I have had the opportunity of reflecting with about this are involved in some sort of group or organization that fights a specific injustice. But not many are involved in dealing with the root causes of all these injustices. It is as if we are treating a pneumonia with cough syrup and antipyretics. While they make the patient temporarily feel better, it does not rid him/her of the infection.
I recently read, in the same letter quoted in my last two posts (here and here), that “this collective movement [of inviting people to contribute to the betterment of society] becomes discernible when the Plan’s elements are combined into a well-coordinated cluster-wide effort.” It makes sense that unity translates into strength, as like-minded people become focused on a single point—the root cause of injustices—and, working together, they build on each other’s strengths and manage to resolve it, one step at a time.
This makes me reflect on the ways in which I could contribute to such a well-coordinated effort which would lead to treating the root cause of the various manifestations of injustice in my own community. I think it means I should not just do my own thing. Rather, it means joining forces with other like-minded people. Instead of being rowers who row in whatever direction and to whatever rhythm we chose, we should learn to row in the same direction, at the same rhythm.
The next step would be to figure out what to do, which itself depends on understanding the social reality of our community. More specifically, I think we need to figure out how the injustices manifested are related to each other, as the intersection between them should be the root cause of all of them. Achieving an understanding of so complex an issue cannot be done alone. This leads me to believe that the most important thing of all is to realise that collective action means learning to consult.
Consultation is a powerful instrument which, when correctly used, can result in the moral development of a community. This correct use however is dependent on personal moral development: detachment from the self and the ego, patience, perseverance and courage are amongst the top virtues I can think of that are needed to consult. Once again, we see the coherence between the dual moral processes at hand; it seems like the “good people” in the world are the ones best placed to learn how to use consultation so as to contribute to the betterment of their community. And again, it’s a matter of using this relatively simple instrument constantly.