Steps towards One Human Society
The root cause of social injustice lies in sentiments that dehumanize and degrade others, thereby allowing us to treat them unfairly without guilt or remorse. One of these sentiments, geo-sentiment, arises from strong attachments that people develop for their territory—cities, regions, states, or countries. This emotion leads them to favor and privilege inhabitants of their own territories often at the expense of others living elsewhere. In the past, such sentiments have undermined political, economic, and religious systems, resulting in colonialism, imperialism, and fascism. Geo-political patriotism, for example, can easily be used to rally a populace to wage war on other countries in order to appropriate their land or resources.
Geo-sentiments are usually based on emotions that have little to do with rational thinking, such as “My country is the greatest in the world,” or “God gave us this land so we should seize it for our own.” One of the most effective ways to counter geo-sentiments is to help people develop a rationalistic mentality. This entails a study of the problem or situation in a thorough and logical way. Once the facts are obtained by researching different sources and avoiding outdated, incomplete, and false data, then a rational analysis can be carried out. The objective of such analysis is to arrive at a decision or position that would be most beneficial for all the parties involved and for the society as a whole.
Socio-sentiments can be evenmore dangerous than geo-sentiments. They generate innumerable conflicts between social groups and subgroups by pitting the social, economic, and political interests of one group against those of another. Sentiments like sexism, racism, and classism have spread throughout societies and are difficult to eradicate. Large sections of the population find themselves discriminated against and their life opportunities diminished. Often the victims of socio-sentiments have inferiority complexes imposed on them so that they can be more easily exploited.
There is no logical reason to discriminate against people based merely on the color of their skin. Yet, this irrational behavior continues regardless of countless studies, media exposés, and governmental policies and regulations that have attempted to disprove, diminish, and eliminate it. Socio-sentiments resist rationality and hence must be replaced by the principle, of social equality. This principle begins with the simple idea that all human beings have the equal right to exist, to meet their basic needs, to develop their potentialities, and to live a peaceful and happy life. It also motivates us to protect these rights at all costs.
However, the principle of social equality goes even deeper and affirms a common identity that connects all of us. When we explore and develop our inner consciousness or spiritual essence, we come to realize that all human beings experience the same joys and woes, hopes and aspirations, and basically have the same physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Socio-sentiments wither away as people expand their consciousness and realize that there is much more that unites than divides us, that we are far more similar than different.
Today, even though globalization has created a greater planetary consciousness, there are too many sentiments in society that are keeping us apart. Many concerned people are fighting against these isms, such as racism, patriotism, and classism, which divide humanity. But we also need something to bring us all together. Humanism, which generally refers to human values and activities, stands out as an idea that could represent a collective human identity. Unfortunately, there is also plenty of pseudo-humanism, that is, activities that appears to uphold the ideals of humanism but, in the end, only serve to cover up geo or socio-sentiments operating in the background. For example, when people give rousing talks on human values and then return to their segregated, gated neighborhoods or when wealthy countries offer aid to poorer ones with the intention of eventually profiting from these transactions.
Humanism can also emphasize the supremacy of humans over other living beings. This worldview has led to many of the grave environmental crises that currently threaten the existence of life on this planet. To create one human society, humanism needs to be strengthened and expanded. It must transcend the influence of geo and socio-sentiments and cultivate in each person a love for humanity and for non-humans as well. Prout understands that a new economy cannot be established without a new social order. It proposes neohumanism to rectify the defects of humanism. Neohumanism is based on the elimination of harmful geo and socio-sentiments and practices that help us experience a deep connection with every living being. It provides the inspiration to overcome our differences and understand our inherent unity. Ultimately, neohumanism is a call to fighting injustices wherever and whenever they appear and opening ourselves to a universal love that is essential for human evolution.