Glen T. Martin
Human beings are self-aware beings. To realize the significance of this is to live in astonishment and awe. We are the universe become aware of itself. Consciousness that is aware of itself and able to identify this self-awareness as “I” opens us to the awesome wonders of human existence. The self-aware “I” that lives in each of us is a common human “I” reflective of what Karl Marx called our “species-being.” It is generic and universal to humanity. As Ludwig Wittgenstein declared “I is not the name of a person.”
Only human beings can ask the meaning of existence. Only humans can reflect on the immense distinctions between right and wrong, good and evil. Only humans can acquire knowledge and understanding of the universe. Only human beings live in history, and therefore can strive for a better human condition through historical time.
As self-aware beings, we intuit our human dignity. There is something about each of us that transcends monetary, strategic, and manipulative interactions. We are not things that can be used and used up. We are not commodities that can be bought and sold. From the idea of dignity emerges the concept of human rights. We have rights to freedom, rights to well-being, and planetary rights to peace and a protected environment simply in virtue of the fact that we are human beings.
Ancient and Medieval religious traditions in both East and West often understood this dignity of human self-awareness in terms of the idea of a microcosm of the macrocosm. The ground of Being (God, Allah, Brahman, Tao, or Dharmakaya) embraces the body, mind, and spirit of the Cosmos and human beings are precisely body, mind, and spirit become conscious of itself. We are microcosmic incarnations of the ground of Being.
The self-awareness that we call “I” infinitely transcends the small ego “I” involving a name attached to each of us as a unique human body. My name may be Socrates or Einstein or John Smith but my self-aware “I” is beyond all names. It is the universe become conscious of itself in me. It is this “I” (and the infinite mystery behind it) that is termed in Indic philosophy the “atman,” the deathless cosmic selfhood that lives within each individual person.
The modern age over the past several hundred years has lost this sense of the dignity of humanity as microcosm of the macrocosm. The early-modern development of scientific methods appeared to reveal a universe composed of lifeless “bodies in motion,” a mechanistic universe composed of atomistic entities under the law of universal causal determinism. Consciousness was understood as something that existed only in individual bodies and the social framework of many individual human bodies was a capitalism of competition for wealth, power, and social ascendency.
The microcosm was crushed by the tragic weight of capital—commodification, alienation, and war. The microcosm was lost in a sea of fragmentation into nation-states, races, religions, ideologies, and greedy individualism. The universal “I” of our common humanity, the “I” as a self-aware incarnation of the ground of Being, was buried in the carnage of World War I, the wreckage of World War II, and the ceaseless war-mentality of nations before and after these debacles. The fragmented “I” of the small individualism today hunts down other fragmented “Is” in an endless war on “terror.” The terror of the hunters, the terror of the hunted. The terror of chaos, fragmentation, and meaningless existence. Endless war—a product of the war system and a fragmented sense of self.
All this is overcome by the vision at the heart of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The Constitution speaks of “a new age, when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail.” It proclaims an end to the terror of chaos, fragmentation, and meaningless existence. It proclaims a new age “when the Earth’s common resources shall be shared by all without discrimination.” It rejoins the fragmented “I” of small individualism with the common human “I” of self-aware human dignity. The war-system is replaced by a peace-system.
That is why the Earth Constitution offers humanity not just another form of government to add to the range of fragmented power-systems we now call governments. The constitution “draws our common humanity back together again.” It joins humanity under our universal human dignity and our inherent rights to freedom and well-being on a planetary home of peace, justice, and sustainability. Humanity is one self-aware reality floating in the vastness of cosmic space.
This self-aware reality mirrors and incarnates the ground of Being. We are infinitely more than our nation-states, our races, our religions, or our individual selfish selves. Our dignity, the Earth Constitution declares, is manifested in a “unity in diversity” that transcends all these differences without abolishing them. We unite as human beings; we govern ourselves as human beings. Our public servants take “a pledge of service to humanity.” The “new age when peace prevails” is new precisely because the unity of our common human “I” has been restored.
Uniting humanity under the Earth Constitution brings us together as a common self-aware human reality sharing our beautiful common earthly home. The fragmentation of enemies is gone. The religions unite to participate in governing the Earth together. The nations unite as members of a World Parliament. The races unite within the framework of the Earth Constitution. Universal human dignity now animates an Earth Federation embracing all peoples and nations.
As we rise above the endless “war on terror” that the modern loss of our common humanity has engendered, we can again ask the awesome questions that inspired our great religious traditions East and West. “What is the meaning of our existence as self-aware cosmic beings?” “How do we bring good and self-realization to our planet rather than war, endless murder, and evil?” “What is our destiny as historical beings?” “How can we realize our true human potential?”
We can only restore our dignity as microcosms of the macrocosm if we can transcend the fragmentation, chaos, and selfish greed of modernity. The Earth Constitution brings us not merely to a “postmodern” world but to a redeemed world, transcendent of modernity. By uniting humanity and outlawing war, it brings us to a truly new age in which peace prevails. This new age will open us up, once again, to the common “I” of human self-awareness. It will highlight and reveal our common human dignity. This alone can open us up once again to our cosmic destiny as microcosms of the macrocosm.