PROLOGUE - 1
Where Do We Stand Today
It seems hardly necessary to emphasize the fact, now so evident to all perceptive human minds, that we are living in a period of tremendously accelerated change, a period of unparalleled technological, social, cultural and psychological upheavals and transformations. Yet, while this fact is widely recognized and constantly publicized, only a minority of human beings are not only really aware of its implications, but ready and willing to face these implications, both as individual persons and as members of a national and cultural collectivity. This evidently is not a new situation; for whenever a society has been confronted with some radical changes only a minority of its people have ever been truly aware of what was happening or ready to reorient their minds and patterns of personal and group behavior. But today the situation has implications not only more far-reaching than ever in recorded human history, but also more catastrophic if nothing "unusual" happens to repolarize and redirect the present world-wide trends. These world-wide trends of themselves can only lead to an orgy of violence and dying born of the senseless pride, hunger and despair which today are fast reaching an apocalyptic climax.
In our era of world-wide communication and at least superficial mass-thinking, no human being can be willing and ready to face the prospect of radical reorientation and social reorganization on a global scale unless he or she at least dimly understands what is happening and the process which led to such compelling and apparently irreversible events. The only alternative to understanding is an almost blind faith in the teachings and an equally blind obedience to the dictates of some religions leader around whom an aura of divine power, wisdom and love has been built in some more or less spectacular manner. But even in this case it is clear that today such a leader is more or less compelled to give to his words some sort of intellectual, moral and historical background in order to re-set into new patterns of response the restless and distracted minds of the men he must reach in order to fulfill his mission. He must explain the historical process, interpret the facts of today, present a vision of the future — however irrational his approach may seem to more sophisticated, college-trained and science-worshipping minds.
How can we really understand what has been happening in the world of human beings since a hundred or two hundred years? Superficially, of course, it is easy to list transforming political events, new concepts, new discoveries, growth of industry and technology at a totally unprecedented rate, the fabulous increase in productivity resulting from the release of ever more tremendous powers and from the consequent redistribution of population and the prolongation of human lives leading to an almost catastrophic increase in population, all over the globe. The question remains in the inquisitive mind refusing to be over-awed by scientific achievements: Why this almost sudden outburst? This question demands some kind of answer, and what is happening to mankind has to be, if not "explained," at least interpreted in terms of a large evolutionary, biological or spiritual, and if possible cosmological or metaphysical picture.
An interpretation is necessary, I claim, even though the strictly existential bias and the "scientific" agnosticism of our day may insist that all that matters is to face the facts as they are now, and to respond to them with the best of our mental capacities, perhaps with the help of some mysterious intuition or creative power which somehow seems inherent in human nature. But "facing the facts now," although it sounds good to many ears, actually of itself means very little. Who is to face the facts — or rather what in a human being is to do the facing?
A man may want to respond wisely and creatively to a new situation; but what is it that does the responding? There are cases undoubtedly in which an individual confronted by a life-or-death emergency unlike any one he has met before will perform the "right action" — and he may thank for this either divine Providence, a Guardian Angel, or a Soul intuition, or some form of biological or psychic instinct of self-preservation. But when have we seen collectivities, even when confronted by a life-or-death situation, do the really right actions at the proper time and with total courage — rather than "too little and too late"? Did the French aristocracy of the eighteenth century, or the Russian aristocracy of the twentieth century, or post-World War II France facing a new situation with regard to her colonies in Indo-China and Algeria face historical-social facts which were of crucial importance to healthful survival, or survival pure and simple? Are we in the United States today, confronted with the plight of our Negro population inherited from centuries of slavery and (later) of prejudice and neglect, meeting "instinctively" and with success the facts of our national life?
The privileged classes in our modern cities (acting like the aristocracies of the past), or indeed all nations now playing poker-games on the brink of almost incredible nuclear disaster, are apparently unable (and mostly unwilling) to give constructive and radically new creative answers to the totally new problems posed by a couple of centuries of vertiginous changes which are putting everything human into question. Why is it so? Simply because the minds and emotions of human beings are set according to social, cultural and religious-ethical patterns which mold the socio-biological and spiritual environment within which these minds and emotions must develop from infancy up to a more or less conformistic maturity.
I repeat: What is it in a man that can make the right and creative answer to an almost completely new situation when the mind, the feeling-responses and the bio-psychic drives of the man are set according to a tradition dominated by past values and an obsolete approach to change? Here and there strong individuals may question and rebel against these traditional values and patterns of living, thinking and feeling; but if these men are not to be satisfied with wild and senseless acts of revolt born of tragedy, frustration and despair — or, among the more intellectual class, produced by a feeling of total emptiness and boredom — they inevitably have to base their conscious and enlightened action on an objective study of the past, a study which can also reveal something of the future.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1969 by Dane Rudhyar
and Copyright © 2001 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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