For years I’ve been asking people: What is the most important thing in the world? I was trying to understand why people did what they did, the better to encourage peace with nature. I had originally expected a few obvious answers, but what I got was an extraordinary number of quite different ones. A hundred of these are listed below. They reveal serious diversity among the most deeply-held beliefs of people all around the world. They are all equally ‘true’.
|A hundred Most Important Things|
|Beauty, Birds, Certainty of enlightenment, Community, Compassion, Connectedness, Consciousness, Conservation, Crop circles, Curiosity, Dào, Death, Development of the self, Earth/soil, Education, Eliminating greed, Empathy, Ending suffering, Ending violence against women and children, Energy, Entropy, Environment, Equality, Evil, Evolution, Fair distribution of resources, Family & friends, Fire, Following one’s dreams, Foresight, Fossils, Freedom, Fulfilment, Gaia: the world herself, God, Grace, Gratitude, Gravity, Happiness, Happiness for all, Harmony, Health & vitality, Home, Hope, Humility, Jesus, Justice, Kindness, Knowledge, Language, Laughter, Leadership, Life, Logic, Love, Loyalty, Luck, Magic, Making a difference, Making connections, Mathematics, Mind, Music, Mystery, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Nature, Nothing, Now/time, Open-mindedness, Other peoples’ histories, Oxygen/air, Patience, Peace, People, Photosynthesis, Plants, Purposeful optimism, Qì, Racism, Rational thought, Realism, Religion, Respect, Science, Seasons, Self-control, Serenity, Sex, Sleep, Stability of the biosphere, Story-telling, Sun, Survival, The people-nature relationship, Tolerance, Trust/faith, Turning point festivals (celebrations, initiations, funerals, etc.), Understanding, Water, Wisdom, Wonder.|
The findings can be used in all sorts of ways. For example, by looking at the origins of the words that people have chosen, we can trace them back in time and space, often for thousands of years to ancestral cultures on distant shores, or to alien cultures beyond mountains, oceans and deserts. Their meanings have evolved, combined or divided like living organisms, but despite occasional mutations their lineages are intact. Some even stand for ideas that must have been among the first things that ever needed to be named at all, so they are ‘scars of evolution’ – the traces of challenges faced by beings who were just becoming human a couple of million years ago. They reveal aspects of our underlying nature as humans – what was important to us first, and what is still important to us now – so helping to answer questions like: who were we, who are we, and what directs our relationships with each other and with the natural world?
This is too big a subject for one person, so I decided to seek help by opening the answers I already have to a much broader audience, and by inviting new ones, and trying to understand them all in relation to each other and everything else we know. This blog is designed to share and explore some of the Most Important Things that have people have already proposed. I’ll do this in a ‘Thing o’ the Week‘ post (or ‘Tweek’), featuring my take on one of those that have been suggested. But this is a fast-changing world and there is also a need to keep examining what happens from the point of view of the eternal values that we have already identified, and as new ones emerge. So the blog is also a platform for commentary and reflection. I’ll update it often from now on, so please feel free to follow and participate!