Humanity evolves, just as individuals do, through stages. From childlike innocence and vulnerability to grasping on to a preference for conflict and injustice, we are entering a time of more focused integration of our newfound abilities, while also acknowledging our growing responsibilities. We are currently approaching the end of humanity’s adolescent stage of moral development and its transition to maturity. With this comes an accompanying shift of emphasis from power seeking to pursuing moral and socially productive ends.
With the expansion of consciousness comes the raising of standards. We know now that an appropriate response for our time that will break long entrenched habits and patterns of hatred is simply replacing that with love. As circles of love expand, all forms of prejudice are challenged and eventually will be eliminated. We have seen this trend in the progress of the human spirit, most visibly in the rise of humanitarianism.
The evolution of virtue has slowly advanced, transforming the killing of a rival from a noble deed to a shameful murder, while making the distinction between good and evil ever sharper. Since the founding of the Royal Humane Society in England in 1774, there has been a growing feeling that the world is changing for the better.
A rising tide of humanitarianism followed this and signaled a new goal in the consciousness of humanity: caring for and giving altruistically to any and all members of humanity in need. This trend toward compassion and justice expanded during the 19thcentury with the founding of the profession of nursing, the outlawing of slavery worldwide, and the founding of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
A closer look at this rising tide reveals a long, protracted process of altruistic love unfolding, though fraught with tremendous struggle. Starting seriously in the 1850s in the U.S., we have the Abolitionist Movement, the Emancipation Proclamation (1862), followed by the 13th, 14th, and 15thAmendments and the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, and 1875, representing a complete transformation of the U.S. and its Constitution, at least in matters of a humanitarian nature.
Though another 100 years passed before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950-60s, and the struggle still lives on today, the evolution of consciousness is undeniable, as it continues to deliberately unfold across time, while deeply rooted prejudices and the systems they give rise to slowly but surely lose their hold.