The flip-side of the idea that consciousness is a skill is the idea that skills can be mastered.
So far, the human species as a whole has clearly not mastered consciousness, although quite a few individuals appear to have done so. We typically call these individuals “saints” or “enlightened” people, statistical outliers on the spectrum of development.
The human impact on the planet is such that if we don’t get a grip on ourselves, and soon, the point may well become moot.
Consciousness is what is specifically human about humanity, and the first priority of any species that “wishes” to survive is to adapt to its environment. (“Wishes” is in quotes because evolution is neither deterministic nor teleological. Sorry.) Humans have evolved to adapt to themselves with greater sensitivity than to the external environment which supports the very organism upon which our conscious life depends.
The challenge before us as a species, therefore, is to integrate environmental sensitivity with individual self-definition.
We must master consciousness in large enough numbers as individuals, and at some point collectively as a species, if we are even to survive — let alone be happy.
[This post is a stub, a sketch of an idea to be developed later. If you find it interesting or intriguing please Like it, leave a comment, or send me a note and I will be happy to flesh it out more fully.]