When the potentialities embedded within us do not come forth, crises can occur. While studying the rising rates of mental problems and emotional distress among U.S. children and adolescents, an eminent group of children’s doctors, research scientists, and mental health professionals found a lack of connectedness to other people – and to moral and spiritual meaning – to be at the heart of the problem.
This same group presented scientific evidence from the field of neuroscience that human beings are “hardwired to connect.” They said our brains need connections to other people and to moral meaning for “essential health and human flourishing.” This is one of the first efforts to utilize “hard science” in recommending that our society pay attention to young people’s moral, spiritual, and religious needs.
Ironically, it is not always the natural law of Survival of the Fittest that prevails. In fact, its opposite, the natural law of cooperation, is what enables transcendence from self to society to succeed. Darwin’s natural law does not negate but rather complements this natural need to cooperate, which is actually called the Golden Rule by the world’s religions, and holds strong through all the kingdoms of life, animal and human equally. The natural law of cooperation implies that “the rationality of the universe” has an underlying purpose or direction to it, as Einstein surmised.
Extending our innate need to connect, and to cooperate, to its next logical level, Jeremy Rifkin, in The Empathic Civilization, says at our deepest nature we are “homo empathicus.” He reports that “empathy neurons” have been discovered that allow us to feel and experience another’s situation as if it were our own. Hardwired to be empathic, or to care deeply by feeling connected to another, this innate consciousness has been steadily evolving over our history. Rifkin wants us to consider this question: is the Age of Aquarius really the Age of Empathy?