By: Paul S. Cilwa Page Views: 1207
Unknown author

The emancipation of individuals from the slavery of specialized knowledge has begun.

When people of the far future look back on the 21st century, what do you suppose they will see as the number one, most noticeable, prime hallmark of the age? How will people remember the 21st century?

We suggest the 21st century will be known as the Age of Spiritual Emancipation.

In centuries past, individuals seldom trusted themselves to do anything. They went to doctors for healing, psychics or shamans for predictions, dozens of specialists for plumbing, building, driving, designing. Even priests and ministers were considered a required go-between in order to reach God. These people became specialists by studying certain technologies—often, technologies denied people who were not members of the guild.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with hiring specialists. It’s just that, too often, people abdicate their own responsibility to the specialist. If the doctor is supposed to heal you, why bother to understand the workings of your own body? If the accountant is responsible for doing your tax return, why bother to understand how the tax code works or even how the government works? If the rabbi is responsible for your connection to Yahweh, why should you understand your own spiritual path?

Guilds

This is changing. The Guilds of the Middle Ages are gone, and the Information Explosion has made books on every conceivable subject available to anyone who can read; and most everyone can read. The Internet has brought even obscure information into the hands of anyone with even a casual interest in any subject, and made it possible for individuals to form like-minded special-interest groups no matter how geographically or culturally isolated they are. And so, people can learn how to bake their own bread…do their own taxes…find their own path to God. Today, there are no technologies that are beyond your grasp…and that’s empowerment.

We find ourselves a bit hesitant to wield this new power, but people are taking small steps, tasting the freedom they sense has become available. It’s not unusual, nowadays, for people to second-guess their building contractor, suggest treatments to their doctor, and refuse to follow a church teaching while maintaining their relationship with their church. (For example, a majority of American Catholics believe that use of the birth-control pill is not sinful, and do use it, while continuing to attend Mass and considering themselves to be "good" Catholics.)

Do-it-yourself appendectomy

This doesn’t mean that we all will eventually want to do everything ourselves. I wouldn’t want to have my appendix removed by a hobbyist, or to remove my own. The emancipation comes from knowing that I could study medicine, and that I can know what it is that the doctor intends to do for me…and that I have some informed choice in the matter. The emancipation of individuals from the slavery of specialized knowledge has begun and, we believe, will continue through the next century.

Probably the oldest specialty is that of intermediary-to-God—that is, priest, minister, shaman, rabbi, or whatever. He, or she, has been taught a "spiritual technology." This technology gives the cleric the ability to baptize, forgive sins, explain God’s purpose for your life and pass your requests on to God. But, ironically, this is also the least-beneficial intermediary, inasmuch as no one can possibly be closer to God than you—after all, you are God’s creation, child, thought. But, for centuries, we’ve been taught that we cannot possibly understand God’s word without a cleric’s translation, and cannot make it into "Heaven" without our cleric’s "help" (read: technological know-how).

Follow your own path

Here at the dawn of the 21st century—the "New Age"—many of us have seen through this fallacy. Yet, many of us trade one intermediary for another. It makes no difference if you abandon your traditional cleric for the leader of a "new" spiritual "movement". Until you make your own spirituality your own responsibility, you are not yet emancipated; because, now, finally, we realize that your path to your oneness with God is through you, not someone else. You may be able to learn tricks and gain insights from those further along their paths than you are on yours, but you cannot find the path that leads you to God by "following" anyone, no matter how enlightened…because that path starts within you. And, of all technologies, this is one—perhaps the most important one—you can learn.

The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd.