Three Considerations for Human Progress and the Move Toward Human Unity

Humanity is at something of a crossroads.  The changes taking place in human society and the general life of humanity, driven by the results of the industrial revolution, the digital revolution and the pressures associated with resource allocation in a world that is struggling to find a balance between human population and the carrying capacity of the planet, are bringing us face to face with some considerable choices as to what the future society will look like.  Sri Aurobindo raises three considerations as the basis for the exploration of these issues.

The first is to determine what extent the outer forms of unification, political, economic and administrative, can succeed in achieving the goal and to what extent that success will be an actual aid or hindrance to the deeper, inner progress of the human race.  Sri Aurobindo looks at human progress as an inner growth and development of the individual, first and foremost, with a commensurate upgrading of the collective society resulting therefrom;  and does not, like some modern thinkers, treat progress as purely a collective phenomenon of outer comfort and material success while treating individuals purely as cogs in the machinery of the society.

The second is to reflect on the future of the nation as a surviving and thriving unit in that next future.

The third raises the concern about the link between uniformity and human unity and to what extent uniformity aids or hinders human progress.

“…we have to consider how far it is either likely or possible to carry the principle of unification in those more outward and mechanical aspects which the external, that is to say, political and administrative method is prone to favour, and how far they will in their more extreme formulations favour or retard the true progress of the race to its perfection.”

With respect to the future of the nation-state, he asks “… whether there is any chance of its entire dissolution or, if it is preserved, what place the subordinated nation-unit will take in the new united life.  This involves the question of control, the idea of the “Parliament of Man” and other ideas of political organisation as applied to this new portentous problem in the science of collective living.”

Third, “…there is the question of uniformity and how far uniformity is either healthful to the race or necessary to unity.”

None of these lines of development can be clearly demarcated as there are currents and cross-currents at work, and new forces of technology and their impact on human interaction that need to be considered.  At the same time, the pressure for solutions continues to rise as climate change, pollution, depletion of resources, imbalances in resource allocation, and threats to global civilisation including new technologies of destruction that can wreak havoc on a global scale, occupy the leading minds of the modern world.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part One, Chapter 16, The Problem of Uniformity and Liberty, pp. 140-141