Towards a higher form of life
The wonders of human progress never stop surprising us. Homo erectus… homo faber… homo sapiens.
It all started when man no longer crawled on all fours but stood up on his own two feet. He became the pride of creation. Homo erectus… standing up with the instinctive ambition to dominate creation.
Once on his feet he started fashioning creation to suit his needs. He became a worker – Homo faber… Work transforms the world… and the worker. ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ one would say today. Employment generates income, which generates consumption, on which depend survival, satisfaction and pleasure.
But where would all this lead without reason? Homo sapiens attained knowledge and reason. We all know how knowledge is power. The worker and the intellectual combined their gifts to craft what we can characterise as the superpower of awareness, science and technology. If we know how to do it, let us do it, then we can enjoy it.
This gave rise to homo ludens – man the leisure seeker. Comfort, ease of life, pleasure, effortlessness became the holy grail of so-called developed societies.
Slowly but surely another kind of evolution started: the enfeeblement of the human race. Stamina, resistance to pain and sacrifice, inability to deal with the simple stress of living gradually turned human beings into sanitised weaklings. Depressions shot up, loneliness set in, childlessness sapped developed societies from life and joy… Development leads to death.
This may seem a dreary scenario indeed. Does it need to be so?
Running across, within and beyond all stages of human evolution there was a silent call, a weak but real power, a hidden promise lurking beneath the ground that humanity trod upon in its march of life. Love was silently irrigating the ground out of which humanity was fashioned in its first days. And love was the silent energy that drove the march forward even while humanity enjoyed the illusion of achieving it on its own power.
It was love that made the standing man bend towards his fallen fellow human beings. It was love that, beneath the hunger pangs, drove the hunter-gatherer man to search for sustenance of his progeny.
It was love that broke the hard code of language seeking to communicate the mystery within. Little by little the body and the mind of man started perceiving creation with a new vision thanks to the love that it was humbly and quietly experiencing in the day-to-day business of living. It started dawning on man that there is such a thing as meaning in life. Slowly, even if painfully, homo amans (man the lover) started emerging.
Real progress for humanity depends on embracing this meaningfulness conferred on our existence by love. It is this meaningfulness that was the source of the real dignity of homo erectus, of the creativeness and dedication of homo faber, of the power of homo sapiens and the joy of homo ludens.
We believers call this deepest love-identity of humanity God. He/she is the source and ultimate meaningfulness of human life as well as the whole of creation.
The more we human beings acknowledge and allow this humble power to lead us on, the faster we progress to the highest form of existence. The more we reject a God who is love, the more we transform our own evolution into a hellish spiral of decadence and death.
Our future does not depend on the increasing powers we are gaining for ourselves. It depends on the meaningful and loving use of them. Which brings us to the eternal question: What is love?
There is no abstract answer to this question because it is not a mind question. This is a life question and only life can provide us with an answer. And life becomes meaningful when the age-old mainspring of evolution – survival of the fittest – is replaced by the subversiveness of the Gospel – survival of the weakest.
A society is as humanly developed as it is capable of treasuring and cherishing its weakest members. It is in the voice of the voiceless among us that love speaks out loudest. The Church, even in its own sinfulness, but faithful to its Master, humbly yet strongly chooses to be this voice in the wilderness.
In our debates and considerations about power, politics, economics, ethics, fertility and the meaning of life itself, are we ready to listen?
Fr Chetcuti is a member of the Society of Jesus.