How To Move Forward? Culture, Nature, Progress, The Path

Lício Correio – Portugal

Lício is the General Secretary of Portugal. He has been a member of the TS since 1934 and lives in Porto.

We are all going through a deep crisis of change, in which reason and science themselves are sometimes called into question because of a feeling of disenchantment stemming from an unbalanced technological and material culture, rooted in a frenetic individualism and consumerism.

The fact that the values of tolerance and altruism – powerful grounds for genuine fraternity – are dwarfed by all this provides a fine opportunity for reflection.

Altruism and tolerance are precisely the values that are most needed to deal with today’s material asymmetries and inequalities. Every two seconds an innocent child perishes with hunger, yet both rich and poor countries are investing heavily in arms sales.

There’s no doubt that all this happens by sheer immaturity and karmic insensitivity. Anyone with the slightest bit of sensitivity cannot turn away from the long road that has to be trodden in order to solve the present set of affairs, which are universal in reach and demand a collective effort to end.

More important than the usual inconsequent complaints and the lack of any real breakthroughs in solving these problems, one must clearly assume the need for real action with real consequences.

Everyone of us must do whatever our own means and capabilities allow us to do, in order to try to be part, not of the problem, but of the solution.

The Portuguese poet Miguel Torga once said, “When one does what one can one does what one must.”

In our present times, one can identify not only an anxious search for personal answers, mostly of a selfish nature, but also the rise of certain forms of totalitarian and perverse religious practices, such as the “holy war” or “jihad”, along with the proliferation of other types of illusions, frequently rooted in seductive marketing packages, perfectly adjusted to different publics, circumstances and intentions.

In this context of emerging conflicts, another important problem deserves our attention: the irresponsible and destructive action of man over Nature.

It is imperative that one studies and acknowledges the consequences of these actions so that one can intervene in an intelligent way, preventing them from getting worse and worse. But it is still more important to try to understand these situations from a Theosophical point of view that allows one to put them in a deeper and larger context.

In the book “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology”, the anthropologist Mischa Titiev refers to the existence of various laws of cultural growth, among which is the law of “progressive dependence on culture”. This law shows that human growth was sustained by a progressive and systematic abuse of nature, often with the destruction or degradation of biodiversity and multiple ecosystems.

Isn’t it a fact that the very exuberance and variety of forms represent the richness of life itself?

On the other hand, it is also clear that none of us is willing to renounce the present cultural achievements that have produced all the comforts and enabled us to go far beyond our own limited individual resources. These were possible only due to the work of a large army of so-called specialists who became indispensable in the building and maintenance of our present “new technological order”.

A specialist has been ironically defined as “someone who knows more and more about less and less”, which reflects a genuinely human frailty.

If we turn our attention to the animal kingdom, we´ll notice that the species which are largely specialized in certain areas are precisely those that show the deepest limitations when faced with drastic environmental changes and alterations, which can even lead to their own extinction.

Mischa Titiev in the book cited above also refers to another very important cultural law: “the law of necessary cooperation”, showing that in its absence, any living group (humanity included) would fast tread the path to degeneration, dissolution, and conflict. In the end, this law merely states the everlasting call for fraternity and cooperation, which Theosophy has always embraced.

In accordance with this line of thought, the fact that everyone and everything are forever interconnected should always force one to consider the consequences of one’s actions, not in a merely egoistic perspective, but in a larger holistic approach that binds us to a clear set of responsibilities that we should not try to avoid.

Thus, in a way, each one of us is also everybody else, and whatever we give to others we give to ourselves. Hence arises the idea that one’s expansion of consciousness in order to include everyone and everything else is, nowadays, a universal imperative on the path of human progress.

Genuine fraternity is “the Way” to true personal and spiritual development. Therefore, let us tread it . . . always . . . together.

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