What is the inherent nature of the universe: unity or discord? Are we doomed to be battlers all our lives? Are we victims of circumstance? Is the world becoming less or more united?

Converging technologies and economies would seem to inevitably bring us all closer, yet the opposite is happening. Practically every industry and segment of our society is becoming more entrenched. Political divisions, racial divisions, and religious passions are intensifying, defying all predictions and expectations of the shrinking boundaries of our global village.

If the wise and enlightened ones of previous centuries could see our society, they would never believe that the proliferation of knowledge — unprecedented in all of history — would actually amplify our diversity. They all imagined that the forward march of progress went hand in hand with the assimilation of extremes into one homogenous whole. The information revolution was meant to be the big equalizer. Instead, it is eliciting deeper extremes than ever.

Exploring Our Divergence

This divergence certainly has its virtues. It validates our inherent individuality and the unique nature of races and cultures. Yet, there is also an ugly side to these divisions. The polarization of the wealthy and the impoverished is a global phenomenon. One billion people in the world are starving, while Western (and some Eastern) wastebaskets are brimming with over or underdone steaks. Alarmingly, 64% of the population in prosperous countries are overweight (and around 33% obese), while in poorer countries millions of bellies are bloated or emaciated from hunger.

Gandhi once said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

Is there any hope? Can we ever expect to mend this split or will human greed always keep us apart?

Great strides have been made in modern society’s sense of civil rights and social justice. Yet, we also can’t ignore the undeniable inequality that prevails. Will we always remain selfishly inclined?

Knowledge vs. Divine Knowledge

Thousands of years ago, Isaiah the visionary declared that at the end of days
“there no longer will be evil and destruction … because the universe will be filled with Divine knowledge as the water covers the sea.” This statement may once have been ignored or dismissed as esoteric poetry. Today, however, these words resonate more than ever.

Isaiah is saying that all knowledge is to be connected and accessible to all — with one major caveat: He says “Divine knowledge.” In other words, knowledge must be transcendent in nature, lest we remain confined by our individual interests.

The ultimate goal is to merge individual productivity with universal knowledge, and vice versa. But that is only possible when knowledge itself is not seen as one’s selfish domain, but as part of “Divine knowledge” — a greater knowledge to be shared with and accessible by all.

It’s clear that the key is not knowledge alone, but knowledge that has purpose and direction — knowledge that helps us fulfill our higher calling.

Remembering Unity, Integrating Spiritual Consciousness

The answer to whether we are doomed to endless inequality (with sporadic bouts of compassion to relieve our consciences) really depends on how we see the nature of existence. We are all parts of one mosaic, whether we feel it or not. The innate nature of humankind is unity. Discord, divisiveness, and battles are part of life, but they don’t have to define life.

The time has come to introduce and integrate “Divine knowledge” into our lives. Spiritual consciousness is the only true antidote to the byproducts of prosperity and comfort zones.

Our hearts and pocketbooks must always go out to those in need, wherever they may be. And above all, this must not be a commitment for the moment, but a lifetime activity. We are compassionate not because there are people in need, but because we are soulful people, and the soul dictates that we are all integrally bound.

Pain in one part of the world does not allow any other part to be complete. May we always remember this even when there is no apparent crisis.

Author's Bio: 

Rabbi Simon Jacobson shares emotional, psychological, and spiritual skills to help people live their most meaningful lives. An “engaged sage” with an open, empathetic, and non-judgmental approach, he provides clarity, solutions, and new perspectives based on timeless teachings. He is the author of the best-selling book “Toward a Meaningful Life” and Founding Dean of The Meaningful Life Center. Learn more at MeaningfulLife.com.