The concept of universal ethics is the one that makes the most sense to me. How I live my life depends on one, simple question: “What if everyone did the same?”
Dismissing any notion or remarks of creating a totalitarian world by using such a universal concept as simply fear of making personal change, it is my belief that by asking ourselves this very question could greatly increase the quality of life for everything on this planet. Let me provide some examples:
- What if everyone had a car and drove it everywhere?
- What if everyone left all the lights on in their homes at night?
- What if everyone turned off their televisions for half an hour?
- What if everyone wanted to park their car/motorcycle next to Stonehenge instead of paying for parking?
- What if everyone didn’t care about offending people, leaving aside any personal responsibility of creating peace?
- What if everyone didn’t recycle?
- What if everyone consumed the same amount that the average American consumes?
- What if everyone paid higher taxes to ensure that the quality of life for all is kept, and no one seeks a way out to pay less?
- What if everyone stopped looking for a bigger piece of the pie?
- What if everyone planted a single tree in their lifetimes?
- What if everyone stopped using unethical cosmetics and toiletries?
- What if everyone stopped eating so much meat?
- What if everyone grew some of their own food?
- What if everyone decided to go to war?
- What if everyone decided on world peace?
These are but a few examples of “what ifs” that could change the world. Some are small things, some are larger, but the impact on the whole is still considerable if everyone followed the same guidelines. Looking at the bigger picture, and thinking about our actions isn’t always pleasant. It can reveal some real hard truths about ourselves that we have ignored for years. It can turn our world upside down. Equally, it can create within us a lasting peace in the sense that we know that we are walking on the right path. It can provide a real sense of purpose, of integrity and of integration with the rest of the world.
Pessimistically, I don’t see it happening anytime in the near future. There are far too many humans out there whose egos are striving for attention, to fulfil their own desires and need for recognition. In our striving towards self-actualisation, we can become so focused on the self that when we have achieved a sense of self, we stop there. We need to broaden that sense of self, to extend it beyond the self into the whole, and from there gain a better understanding of the world. The best leaders are those who work creatively to make the world a better place for all. The worst leaders are those that use their power for their own personal benefit.
Universalist ethics could provide the way forward, a way of thinking beyond the ego and the self into a more holistic way of being. It requires the fear that lies behind all personal striving to be let go, to dissolve into the outbreath in order to breathe in pure awen, pure inspiration. Only then can we move forward, together, as a community, as a species and as a planet towards real actualisation and not mere pageantry.