The materialistic advances of humanity over the last several hundred years have resulted in bringing the world closer together in a certain sense. There is world-wide instant communication, news and fast international travel. Certain dominant cultural trends that have accompanied the rise of broadcast radio and television and the rise of the digital era, however, have begun to create a type of outward uniformity that we see in the shape of outward trends toward uniformity of entertainment, material goods and expectations about what is important in the outer life. To some degree, even a great degree in many places, traditional cultures and values are being swept aside or minimized under the pressure of the influence of mass culture. The material culture itself thrives and drives towards more efficiency through creation of uniformity, and thus, the administrative pressures towards a uniform culture continue to increase, even as the world moves to confront the unintended consequences of our industrial and technological revolution with its resource depletion, imbalance in access to education and resources between “haves” and “have nots”, exploitation of the environment and the decimation of the biosphere through increase of pollution and waste products which are harming the land, the oceans and the air, and thereby the ability of life to sustain itself on the planet over time. In addition to this, the speed of interaction between different cultures, religions, and traditions has not been without a significant increase in tensions which are exacerbated through attempts at domination or exploitation by one group over another and by the need to access scarce resources.
Sri Aurobindo makes the point that the unity of humanity is an urgent need in today’s world to address these issues, but not the unity brought about by regimentation and uniformity, but a living, vibrant, diverse and joyful unity with the play of diversity:
“At present, the first great need of the psychological life of humanity is the growth towards a greater unity; but its need is that of a living unity, not in the externals of civilisation, in dress, manners, habits of life, details of political, social and economic order, not a uniformity, which is the unity towards which the mechanical age of civilisation has been driving, but a free development everywhere with a constant friendly interchange, a close understanding, a feeling of our common humanity, its great common ideals and the truths towards which it is driving and a certain unity and correlation of effort in the united human advance. At present it may seem that this is better helped and advanced by many different nations and cultures living together in one political State-union than by their political separateness. Temporarily, this may be true to a certain extent, but let us see within what limits.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 31, The Conditions of a Free World-Union, pg. 273