Paradigm Shift: Beyond Reform and Revolution

We need a miracle.

That is how I titled and concluded my last post. I did so a bit jokingly. It was an expression of how little we know about what causes social change. It might as well be divine intervention.

Although it was just a passing thought added to my otherwise serious analysis, I was trying to get at some kind of understanding. A miracle is a religious belief, a theological concept. The basic idea behind it is that god(s), saints or other supernatural beings may intervene on our behalf. The belief in a personal god who would intervene in human affairs became popular during the Axial Age. Before that time, the the great deities, the rulers of the universe were often portrayed as distant and aloof.

Speaking of D.M. Murdock’s scholarship, I previously explained that,

Prior to the New Kingdom, love (mri) was bestowed upon a subordinate by a superior which also included by a god bestowing love to a follower, but this was strictly hierarchical except in certain situations such as a leader being beloved by his people.  With the New Kingdom, love became a more common ideal where the follower could offer love to a god.  There was an equality in that the person could, through love, join with their god.  It was at this time that the epithet meri became extremely popular and was applied widely, in particular with Isis.

That is a very impressive transformation that happened and it was happening across many societies. This didn’t cross-cultural shift can’t be pinpointed to particular revolutions or reforms. It was a paradigm shift and it spread like a contagion, both its cause and origin being unknown. Now, that puts the American Revolution in perspective.

My interest in the history of religion precedes my interest in the history of politics and revolutions. This is how my interest in the Axial Age came about. In my last post, the focus was on social change and the relation between reform and revolution. I queried why so often reform always eventually fails leading to revolutions and those revolutions, even as they fail, force the reform that previously failed. This is fine. I say it is fine because it just is what it is and apparently can’t be otherwise. It’s just human nature on the collective level.

As this cyclical pattern has been going on for millennia, it seems doubtful it will likely change. Yet change happens across the long view of history. The Axial Age is probably the most important shift for all of modern civilization. I’ve hypothesized that the ensuing history was a playing out of this worldwide transformation of human society: personalizing of religion, universalizing of theology and politics, Arabic math and science, European Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, English Civil War, Revolutionary Era, globalization of imperialism, multiculturalism of colonialism, pseudo-scientific racialized slavery, and on and on.

I still don’t think the Axial Age transformation has yet played itself out. When this old paradigm creates problems so massive that they can’t be solved within that level of understanding, human society will either shift once again to some yet unknown paradigm or else self-destruct. That is why we need more than reform or revolution. We need a change that comes from a ‘higher’ level of thinking and functioning. Something that, from our limited perspective, would be akin to a miracle.

This puts us in a special position. During the Axial Age, people including the prophets lacked such broad historical perspective and understanding. We instead are facing the possibility of a paradigm shift with, if we choose, awareness. That could make all the difference. Maybe we don’t need to be stuck in cycles or be passengers of history passively waiting upon the future.

Our fate will be decided by the choices we make, not just or even necessarily in what we do but how we see, think and feel. Once you realize you are in a reality tunnel, you don’t need to know what is outside of it. All you have to do is look for an opening.

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