Tomorrow, we’ll be unable to cope with the world around us if we insist on wearing single-color glasses that let us see only things technological, or humanistic or spiritual. For the world is not neatly partitioned into these bins. Every decision we make, from choosing a school to running a country, will increasingly involve issues that are intertwined across these artificial divisions. We need to heal the split, to find our way through the maze of an increasingly complex world.
If we remain fragmented, we’ll be unable to fulfill potential, because we will be running on only some of our cylinders. Human beings have lived for thousands of years without this split. And we were not always as impressed with reason as we have been in the last few centuries. It is ironic, yet inescapable, that so many thinkers were seduced by reason. We can’t help but be impressed by this unique capability of our brain, which in its exquisite architecture and processes holds our awesome power to think. But what does reason have to do with the love of a child, the beauty of flower, or the eternity of stone? At this, the beginning of the third millennium, the Enlightenment bug has caused us to overrate reason at the expense of faith, and technological reason at the expense of humanistic ideas.
Another reason for repairing this bug is people’s inherent need for spirituality, which, psychologists
tell us, offsets the powerlessness we feel before the mysteries that surround us. In an increasingly rational world, how might our children fulfill human need that has led billions to religion throughout the centuries? Never mind grandstanding on the easy answer that the state shouldn’t glorify any particular sect in the schools. Good. Let’s not take sides. Now what? Will learning in this millennium stay chained to reason? What
of birth, friendship, love, marriage, illness, divorce, conflict, death, origin, purpose?
We don’t know enough to answer these questions. But we should know enough not to be so smug in a one-sided adulation of reason, technology, humanism or spirituality. Let’s take a cue from the long history of our species and begin integrating our divided selves toward becoming, once again, whole. This does not mean we should all strive to become spiritual technologist-humanist dilettantes. Our differences will persist and continue to delight us. Rather, we should reach within, and awaken, listen to, and nurture the pieces of our split-apart selves, encouraging especially the ones we can barely hear. And we should begin doing so with our children at home, with teachings and curricula in our schools and universities, and with our daily activities in our professional and personal lives.
This unification is not easy. But it is worthy of our millennial resolution. Let’s fix the Enlightenment bug and, once again, stand in awe before the sunset, the wheel and that which may lie behind them.