At the quantum level, there’s a principle called non-locality. It refers not only to “the profound interconnectedness of the universe,” but to something called “entanglement,” a phenomenon whereby electrons even far apart instantly affect each other. How does non-locality pertain to human consciousness as it is, and as it could be?
In everyday language, what does non-locality mean? As a 2015 article in Scientific American, “How Einstein Revealed the Universe’s Strange Non-Locality” pithily explains it:
“Physics experiments can bind the fate of two particles together so that they behave like a pair of magic coins. If you flip them, each will land on heads or tails—but always on the same side as its partner.”
“They act in a coordinated way even though no force passes through the space between them. Those particles might zip off to opposite sides of the universe, and still they act in unison. The particles violate locality—they transcend space.”
“Multiple branches of physics now suggest that, at a deep level, there may be no such thing as place and no such thing as distance.”
Mystics not only understand the principle of non-locality and the misnomer of “entanglement” (really disentanglement) intuitively. They have direct experiencing of it because they regularly stand nowhere, with no center or fixed point of reference, going beyond the surface layer of self and locality. Which is to say, there is direct experiencing of nature as a whole the universe as it actually is.
Of course such experiencing is opposed to our everyday experience of locality, of being a separate self, belonging to a separate group in a particular place. However that is our conditioned cultural experience of reality.
Contrast the actuality of seamless wholeness with the near dogma progressives now hold for localism, the idea that we all rightly belong to a distinct place. From that premise they believe the solution to rapacious globalization is devolving people and power down to the smallest possible units of community and municipality.
The utopianism of localism is neatly expressed by one of its leading proponents, Eric Utne, who declaims:
“We need a hyper-local Green New Deal. We need to come together in diverse, intimate, place-based communities. And we need to segue now from the techno-industrial market economy to its sequel — much smaller-scale, less energy-intensive, more localized communities that prize food growing, knowledge sharing, inclusiveness and convivial neighborliness.”
That sounds wonderful until you realize that it precludes living first in the true arena, where humankind is confronted by the extreme challenges every locality in sum has wrought, be they ecological, epidemiological or economic—the global commons.
That sound desirable until you realize it plays into the hands of the Earth’s fragmenters—the transnational corporations, who would like nothing more than for the best and brightest in the world to divert and divest themselves from global responsibility. They know the vast majority of the world’s eight billion people haven’t the interest, the energy or the means to a redux of the hippie back-to-the-land movement.
Localism flies in the face of the way the nature actually works, which isn’t by smallest possible units combining to make a whole, but by the whole of nature giving rise to the tremendous diversity of life on Earth, which man is fast extinguishing through fragmentation.
Finally, localism denies the interconnectedness of human beings and human consciousness. If it isn’t essentially tribal, it feeds into tribalism. And tribalism lies at the very root of man’s pathology, which is tearing the world apart.
That isn’t to say that we should ignore our neighbors and communities in favor of some grand and grandiose conception of human wholeness. Nor is it to oppose growing one’s own food and using small-scale solar and other available means to harness energy.
It’s simply to point out that localism breeds the kind of mentality, on the right and the left, that says, “That woman with a starving child in war-torn Yemen has nothing to do with me.”
Obviously there has to be ecological sustainability. But the idea that localism will ever get us there is dangerously erroneous wishful thinking.
Science has shown that every action we take affects, to some degree, everyone on Earth. Consciousness also reflects, to the extent we creatively participate in its non-locality, the emergence of intelligent life in the universe on this planet. Humankind is still moving in the opposite direction.
Contrast this vision for humanity with the flip side of localism, Elon Musk’s creepy vision. He said after the recent splashdown of his commercial capsule in the Gulf of Mexico, “Humans need to be a multi-planet species.”
Yes, destroying one planet is not enough for those who bow to what D.H. Lawrence aptly described as “the Mammon of mechanized greed.” Thinking and feeling human beings understand that retreating localism or rapacious globalization is a false choice.