I woke up in the middle of the night, my mind filled with thoughts of how disorienting, how contradictory, how hostile, the world can seem right now. Around this genuinely beautiful world there are people of all ages, genders, educational levels, people with sometimes vastly different experiential realities. We all want to live, we all want to love and be loved. I also believe that, if we are in touch with our core, innate being, all of us genuinely want to be contributing to a world which, in return, sustains us with the material requirements of a whole and healthy life.
However, many of the prevalent societal models humans are endeavoring to live within (all?) contain some degree of short-sighted, ultimately non-survival oriented reactions to the challenges we all mutually face in this world. Reactions which can and do become internalized, and go on to become manifest within the lives of people attempting to formulate a healthy life within our respective cultures. Short-sighted, ultimately non-survival oriented reactions which, in truth, stand in the way of our achieving the criteria needed to be genuinely whole, healthy individuals. Whole healthy individuals which, in turn, are needed to constitute whole, healthy communities…and cultures. Collectively, around the world, there are many cultures filled with, being run by, people caught in such ultimately self-defeating reactions. Reactions which are in their nature, circular, self-reinforcing, and which we need to escape… in order to save ourselves.
How do we know if such ultimately self-defeating, short-sighted reactions to the world, are widespread within the culture, the society, we live within? Does the culture have extreme poverty? Is there an extreme imbalance of wealth within the culture? Are the emotions jealousy, anger, envy, fear, hatred, even contempt toward one another common within the citizens? Does a person have to work long hours every day and still find themself unable to afford a decent material livelihood? Do people spend time and energy judging each other’s worth/value as human beings based on either superficial physical characteristics or what amount to culturally imposed inequalities of wealth and education? Is one’s ability to compete with the others within the culture seen as more important than one’s ability to cooperate with others? Is depression, apathy, isolation a common experience among many of the citizens? Is complacency common among others? These feelings and behaviors are all symptoms of ultimately self-defeating mental/spiritual reactions to our world. Reactions often reciprocally fueled by, and resulting in the emotions listed and italicized above.
In reality, there are so many combinations of emotional/behavioral, individual and cultural self-defeating reactions, thinking and behavior patterns, one could spend one’s entire life studying them, categorizing them, and still not encounter all of them. In an infinite universe, there are probably infinite ways to get it wrong. However, ultimately, having a detailed understanding of all of the errors possible in understanding and behaviors still doesn’t necessarily mean we are equipped to “get it right”. It’s time to rein in our worldwide busy-ness with all the self-defeating, nihilistic reactions which occupy us. The people of the world need to all stop, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves “how is this working out for me”. In the vast majority of cases, for the genuine health and well-being of most lives, it isn’t. Most people in the world are economically “treading water”, if that, while a relative few are hoarding the resources needed to revitalize the cultures of the world.
That being said, what’s needed right now among the people of the world isn’t primarily the assignment of blame. What is needed is correction. Which, in a strictly material sense, is a simple matter. However, within a human psyche writhing with various obsessions with personal wants, desires and grievances, it can be anything but simple. It will only be when we learn to think substantially in terms of “we”, instead of limiting ourselves to “I”, that humankind will have a chance at achieving a harmonious world that supports all humankind. A world in which our ongoing, innately present, desire to enjoy our lives and to realize all of the incredible potentials which are present in every human being can actually become manifest.
The goals of “making a killing”, or putting all of those ________________ (fill in the blank) in their places, or of being the first and/or the only at anything, need to be shed like a snake sheds a skin which has become too small. We need to look at the world with fresh eyes, realizing that poverty, sickness, hunger, homelessness anywhere is decreasing the health and the well-being of the entire world. We need to devote enough of our time, energy and resources to lifting up, healing, educating, the downtrodden to bring this world into stability and vitality. Prophets and sages have been saying this, in myriad ways, for centuries. It’s time we listen and take it to heart. They have been right all along. With all the knowledge and resources we as a species possess in this world, it does appear that all that is missing, all we need, is love.
Where to start? One of the gems of knowledge we already have has come to us via Abraham Maslow. With his hierarchy of needs, he gave us a blueprint of how to go about it. Some of the hierarchy, particularly those pursuits nearer the top, are pursuits which are more dependent upon our own, individual, efforts. However, particularly the issues present on the first two tiers, the most basic issues relative to human life, are issues which ultimately require our cooperation with one another to fully achieve. If we encourage a competitive culture, even the attainment of meeting those requirements is always tentative within our lives. And if our attainments are tentative, they are continually taking time and energy from us in order to work at reinforcing and protecting them. Time and energy which we then do not have to devote to the higher, more uniquely human and at the same time more divinely miraculous aspects of our being.