The Insufficiency of Change Brought Forward Under Impulsion of an Acute Crisis

An acute crisis forces change in society.  This change, however, may be purely circumstantial and superficial.  Once the crisis has past, society may abandon all or part of the change that was adopted to address the particular situation.  If change is to be made a long-term aspect of society, it must speak to a deeper psychological truth of the being, and be something that humanity is internally ready to adopt, with the crisis simply becoming the last event needed to sweep away the accretions and habits of the past to leave space for the necessary change to come forward and manifest fully.  More often than not, however, the inner readiness is found wanting and the change fades away.  Such was the case with the first stirrings of the ideal of internationalism.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “But we cannot rely too greatly on ideas and resolutions formed in a moment of abnormal crisis under the violent stress of exceptional circumstances.  Some effect there may be in the end, some first recognition of juster principles in international dealings, some attempt at a better, more rational or at least a more convenient international order.  But until the idea of humanity has grown not only upon the intelligence but in the sentiments, feelings, natural sympathies and mental habits of man, the progress made is likely to be more in external adjustments than in the vital matters, more in a use of the ideal for mixed and egoistic purposes than at once or soon in a large and sincere realisation of the ideal.  Until man in his heart is ready, a profound change of the world conditions cannot come; or it can only be brought about by force, physical force or else force of circumstances, and that leaves all the real work to be done.  A frame may have then been made, but the soul will have still to grow into that mechanical body.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 32, Internationalism, pg. 283

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