The entire human race is a grand experiment in strengthening and focusing reflective thought and analytical intelligence to a far higher pitch than it has been expressed in other species on the planet. Humans are the only animals that can look at themselves and their world objectively, detached from immediate physical concerns. They have separated themselves from the business of physical survival in several ways. They have developed powerful methods of communication such as language and music, they have created cultural rituals and complex worlds of ideas, and they have changed their environment and built fantastic tools and toys.
Unlike animals, humans create most of their environment themselves. The main focus of most people’s lives is not on the business of survival, it is on the business of building and maintaining their civilization. Our energies are dedicated to the development, communication, and expression of ideas; to cooperative effort with others on common tasks; and to using tools to change our environment to reflect our vision. Our main attention has been turned away from the natural world for several thousand years. The development of global economies and the resulting global environmental issues are pushing us back toward an appreciation of and involvement with our natural heritage. The development of technology and the resulting alienation of ourselves from the physical world and from each other have resulted in an increasing interest in spiritual questions (such as the meaning of life). These spiritual questions are pushing us back toward a more integrated understanding of our place in the universe.
This isn’t supposed to be a turning back of the clock however. The intense objectivity and reflection developed by humanity is supposed to bring a new awareness to the task. We are not to simply take our place as natural creatures as we once did. Nor are we to attempt to subjugate the environment and our own natures as we have been doing. The forces of nature around us and within us are living, conscious things. We must learn from these forces. We must form a partnership, a symbiosis. We are to continue to try and bring our vision of life out into the physical world, but we must form and implement that vision cooperatively.
We cannot force new patterns onto the natural and psychological forces that created us and that give us our physical and mental lives. Instead, we must understand the patterns already within the world and our minds and work within them and build upon them. We must become co-creators of our world. That is the challenge for the next millennium. It's the only game worth playing.