Recently I figured I had finally found the specificity to warrant saying I found a purpose. I always had discomfort with saying my life’s purpose was to help people (Age 0-20), then to make a positive impact in a unique way (Age 20-30), and now I wonder if through writing, my purpose is to help increase consciousness.
What does that mean and why does it matter?
Durkheim and Jung
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) was a French sociologist credited with creating the field of sociology and advocating for ways to maintain cohesion during a time of significant upheaval and transition to modern, industrial societies. He established the term collective consciousness as follows:
The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or common consciousness.
Carl Jung (1875 - 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who collaborated with Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalysis, before a schism between them developed. Jung is most known for establishing the concept of individuation, which is the psychological process of differentiating oneself from the collective. But what is the collective? Published in 1936, In The Concept of the Collective Unconscious defined collective unconsciousness, essentially a set of shared structures and beliefs in society, as follows:
My thesis, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
At the intersection of collective conscious of social norms and the collective unconscious of archetypes, we can better understand ourselves and others.
Consciousness creates just societies, fulfilled individuals
The more conscious people are, the more aware they are. That means being aware of their own feelings (e.g. anger), their society (e.g. oppressive states), and other people (e.g. plights others face). When people are more conscious, they can act more rationally, and they can act with patience, empathy, and deliberate intent.
This is helpful because we are kinder to our neighbor and the stranger alike when we are conscious. When we know the reasons why we do things - like our upbringing or a traumatic event - we can act more deliberately than reactively. Writing is an expression of thinking. So when we think, and then we create writing that can be consumed by others through reading, it creates a way for making others realize things about themselves and others they didn’t know. By knowing more, we can create a more just society, with happier people (even though some say ignorance is bliss).
Through writing, reading, reflection, and discussion, we can better understand ourselves, each other, and the world we live in. When that happens, we can improve the way in which we live our lives and support others in doing the same. That is something one can advance each day and rest assured in its positive impact.
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