Eight Values of the Emerging Spirituality
I won't say I'm no better than anybody else, but I'll be danged if I ain't just as good.
Rodgers and Hammerstein
"We are increasingly aware that we are each responsible for what we believe, and that we are capable of discerning the difference between Santa Claus and Santa Ana, between photons and fairies."
That world-view, and those values, existed in competition to our native, emerging, values and world-view, as human beings—which has found new energy in the enlightenment, the advent of modern science, and the institution of modern democracies.
I've already outlined some of the differences between the priest/king world-view and the emerging, democratic world-view.
As you might expect, the values of the emerging spirituality are significantly different as well:
Where priest/king spirituality valued inequality, the emerging spirituality values equality.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."
It doesn't pretend that some people aren't better at throwing a baseball or theoretical physics or baking a cake or writing a novel—it's not that kind of equality.
Rather, it's the idea that no one should get special treatment because of an accident of wealth or birth or connections. It's the idea that a poor woman's life is just as valuable as a rich woman's life, that both are entitled to an equal vote, to equal justice, to equal respect.
Hunter-gatherers, and members of modern democracies alike, value an equality of status between humans.
It's the idea that there are no second-class citizens, that men are as important as women, that one's color, or gender, or sexual orientation, or religion, or class should not affect how one is treated or what rights one has.
Where priest/king spirituality values respect for those above you in the hierarchy, the emerging spirituality values respect for everyone.
A member of a modern democracy, as much as a hunter-gatherer, expects respect from others, and offers respect in turn, regardless of social status.
The structure of democratic societies depend upon it.
The president must respect congress and the courts and the common citizens, the employer must respect the employees, and vice versa, strangers should respect each other, parents should respect their children as well as the other way around.
We respect each other.
Likewise, the emergent spirituality values a symmetric loyalty. An employer may expect loyalty from his employees, but he owes them loyalty as well.
Hunter-gatherers depended upon mutual loyalty to help their band survive, and we increasingly do the same.
We are loyal to those we work and live with, and expect their loyalty in return. We owe loyalty to those who are loyal to us.
We are loyal to each other, rather than those above us in the hierarchy.
The king/priest spirituality valued obedience. The emerging spirituality values freedom.
Hunter-gatherers guard their freedom zealously. They refuse to allow any member of their society to give orders to others.
Likewise members of modern democracies value the ability to act on individual values and desires without first consulting a social superior.
Cooperation, in the emerging value system, is based on understanding, compromise, and mutual goals, not on "because I said so and I have the guns, or the social status, or the money".
Purity, in hunter-gatherer societies, is a matter of safety and cleanliness. We first acquired disgust as a way of protecting ourselves from disease connected to things like rotten meat.
The emerging spirituality is returning to the original purpose and use of the value. The idea that a fellow human being should be considered "disgusting" because of their customs, or race, or sexual preference, is on its way out.
Hunter-gatherers care for each other. They share food, they protect each other, they care for the ill among them.
Once again, this caring, whether it be for physical needs or just caring about how others feel, is not tainted by hierarchy. The same is increasingly true today.
We look out for the needs of others without respect to their social status. We increasingly provide safety nets for the poor or the old as a society. We increasingly ask that the privileged do their part in caring for all.
The emerging spirituality makes fairness symmetric as well.
We are beginning to recognize the danger of double standards.
The teacher who takes weeks to grade an assignment and return the papers while penalizing students who are minutes late offends us.
The boss who takes long lunch hours while requiring employees to eat at their desks is not respected.
The wall street executive who takes a large bonus while expecting the average taxpayer to bail him out earns our disdain.
Here, as elsewhere, our native values as human beings are surfacing again.
Finally, the emerging spirituality values truth with a small "t".
We are coming to see that authority, whether it be religious or political, is no basis for belief.
The fact that a king, or priest, or mullah, or mommy and daddy, or the bible or local pastor has said it doesn't make it true. We need evidence, and reason.
We are increasingly aware that we are each responsible for what we believe, and that we are capable of discerning the difference between Santa Claus and Santa Ana, between photons and fairies.
These are some of the traditional values which have been native to humans since we were humans, and which are re-emerging in modern culture.
Next time, the spiritualities in practice...