Buddhism and other spiritual traditions have long emphasized the importance of kindness, compassion, and nonviolence. However, in recent years, these values have taken on a new significance, as we have come to recognize the need for critical perspectives on materialism and capitalism, equality and egalitarianism. This shift in consciousness is both profound and subtle, emerging incrementally through personal beliefs and actions in everyday life.
To fully appreciate the significance of this shift, we need only look back to a time when cruelty and domination were widely accepted in many forms es pecially in the West. From executions to torture to slavery and systemic exclusion, much has changed. We are no longer willing to overlook or accept casual cruelty, even in the movies and in entertainment.
Of course, these new ideas are not immune to corruption. Charismatic leaders have been known to abuse their power. Nevertheless, attempts by corporations to co-opt mindfulness have sometimes backfired, as employees become less tolerant of harmful policies.
This stream of ideas results from a merging of several tributaries, including feminism, antiracism, and ecological concepts. Its fundamental principle is recognizing the interconnectedness of everything. Even though not everyone has embraced this perspective, the ideals and goals of this movement are revolutionary and pose a threat to the established order, as evident in the opposition by the political right.
The ideology of isolation, obsessed with control through separation and segregation, is at odds with the foundational truth of ecological science: the world is made of pervasive, interconnecting systems. This truth demands responsible action towards the consequences, which clashes with conservative ideals of individual freedom and unfettered capitalism.
Transformation has taken place in many areas, including land ownership and recognition of indigenous people. In 2023, Australia will hold a referendum to recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution through an independent advisory body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. The Voice will allow First Nations peoples to provide permanent advice to the Australian Parliament and Government on matters that affect them. The Prime Minister announced the constitutional amendment and referendum question, which were agreed upon by the Referendum Working Group and the Government, and the principles of the Voice, which were developed and agreed upon by the First Nations Referendum Working Group. Following the referendum, there will be a process to settle the Voice design and legislation to establish it will go through standard parliamentary processes. The referendum is part of the Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.
This shift in consciousness begins with changes in personal beliefs and actions and leads to changes in law, policy, and everyday practices. Through the practice of awareness and the values of kindness, compassion, and equality, we can continue to bend the moral arc of the universe towards a more just and interconnected world