No matter what belief system one adopts (or refuses to adopt) there is no escape from the fact of consciousness. Consciousness exists and continues to develop.
God (i.e. initial consciousness) either created man fully-formed from the dust, or, evolved mankind through the millennia. Either way, consciousness was part of the process. There is also consciousness in trees, as they turn their leaves toward the sun; there is even consciousness in chemical reactions, as polarities seek to balance themselves.
And consciousness evolves.
My favorite example of the evolution of human consciousness is seen by taking the long view. Yes, there is still great trouble in the world, but at least the government doesn’t feed humans to lions for the entertainment of the masses. We don’t watch gladiators fight to the death for sport. And in some distant future, I am sure we’ll look back at boxing, or American football, and shake our heads at the brutality of those spectacles.
Because consciousness is evolving.
And the spectrum of consciousness expands overall toward the charity end of the range. As we develop along that scale, the world becomes generally safer and more comfortable to live in. (Clearly, this doesn’t happen at the same rate everywhere.) As millennia pass, humanity develops ever-finer codes of discernment and manners; it’s called civilization.
This brings me to Jesus.
No matter what one personally believes about Jesus, we must admire his prescience. It’s hard for us to realize, actually, how very prophetic his words were. Remember, he lived in a time when “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was considered a radically liberal imperative. Jesus, though, could see the hidden principles behind the actions of men. He could foresee the possibility of peace on earth, and he understood perfectly what could produce it.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.”*
Did he simply want us to be good little girls and boys? Hardly. Jesus understood the mechanics of peace. Jesus was asking us to change the most basic component of our being – our consciousness. He was, in effect, asking us to see other people, cultures, countries, like we see our next-door neighbors. This was a giant step in the evolution of consciousness, and 2000 years later, we still haven’t fully grasped it. Instead, our first instinct, when we are trespassed upon, is to sow seeds of vengeance, which, of course, reaps us great crops of the same.
Jesus also observed that those who live by the sword will die by the sword.** In other words, if your consciousness is, “Pick up a sword [or bomb] and go get the S.O.B.s!” then no doubt the sword [or the bomb] will garner a response in kind. It’s simple logic.
Imagine, after the events of September 11th, that instead of sending bombs and soldiers, we’d responded by building schools and sending food and emissaries of love. Take a moment to try and imagine how the world might be different (not to mention the tax money we’d have saved!).
It’s worth noting that one of the reasons Hezbollah (a Muslim ‘jihad’ organization) took root so quickly in Lebanon was that they provided social services to the people (hospitals, schools, etc.). The people began to see them as benevolent and helpful neighbors. If a terrorist organization could do these things, how much more effective could be the efforts of those whose founding principles are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? What if we’d offered our response based on those beliefs?
Well, as I said, I take the long view.
Like Jesus, I predict and believe that our collective consciousness will continue to evolve in the direction of kindness. I take great comfort in Jesus’ prescience and compassion. Jesus had faith in us. I look forward to the day when we develop the courage and clear-sightedness to have faith in Jesus.
* The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, verse 44
** The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 26, verse 52