#ebbfspirit keynoter Partow Izadi on Evolution & Human Potential: The Big Picture
He shares below a few initial thoughts reflecting the theme of the event: can ethical business build the future through the spiritual enterprise?
“The ongoing global crisis may induce some to despair and give in to cynicism. Yet, viewed in the context of human evolution, we may not be experiencing just a random phase of trouble and conflict, with no light at the end of the tunnel.
All living things — including humankind as a whole — evolve through periods of stable development as well as rapid and painful transitions, crisis. While the risks in such transitions are considerable, the opportunities are even more consequential and have, indeed, spurred the human species on its social evolution.
Homo sapiens has emerged, through a turbulent history of increasing complexity and deepening cooperation, from simple bands of hunter-gatherers into tribal societies, city-states and nation-states up to the current threshold of an emerging global society and world civilization — with all the pain and horrors that such transitions inevitably entail, before the fulfilment of their promise.
This evolution has been an ethical one: learning the art of altruism, starting out from egoism and self-love towards various degrees of exclusive love, and culminating into inclusive love, or universal altruism. We’re not there quite yet!
And this ethical evolution would not have unfolded through mere ‘self-learning’ either. The human potential is not realized without active education: no human child can attain to any of its potential without an educator. The same applies to humanity as a whole: mankind would not have been able to resist forces of egoism, of ‘ethical entropy’, without the education it has received throughout its history.
Where it not for the recurrent influence of spiritual, ethical and social education humanity has received on the path of its ethical evolution by its great Educators, and expressed in the advances of civilization, we would still be captives of our animal instincts, roaming about as survivalist clans of hunter-gatherers. By responding to these “impulses of the Divine”, peoples and nations have progressively attained to the spiritual, intellectual, and moral capacities that serve to civilize human character.
Viewed in this perspective, religion is not a collection of various denominations, creeds and beliefs. Rather, religion is a single educational process, designed to bring out the potential of human existence in an evolutionary and progressive manner. Shorn of this spiritual and ethical core, the value of religions remains unappreciated by even their followers, and we end up in the incongruous religious mosaic we have managed to infer through our misconception of the purpose of those “impulses of the Divine”.
For this reason, the modern ethics of ‘tolerant pluralism’ — and the materialism, individualism and liberalism that goes in the name of this tolerant pluralism — is utterly insufficient (in addition to being rather intolerant in reality) as an ethical foundation for a harmonious and flourishing global civilization. There is a dire need for some universal ethos at the core of the sense of solidarity and common purpose of world citizens.
This universal ethos is the spiritual core that runs like a story line in the annals of all religions. It has always taught the humanity to see in service to others not only a moral duty, but an avenue for the soul’s approach to God. Today, the progressive restructuring of society, on a global level, gives this familiar teaching entirely new dimensions and new meaning, and opens civilizational avenues undreamt of in any earlier age.
“All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.”
“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”
“That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. … It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
– Bahá’u’lláh (circa 1870-1890) –