“The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not?
That is the telling question of his life.”
-(-C.G. Jung, 1961, pp. 356-7).
Watching what’s going on on our planet each day, I am continually struck by the suffering and grief that seems to be inherent in the human condition. It occurs to me that part of the problem is that western culture places so much value on individualism, independence, and getting ahead, venerating community and interdependence less. As a result, many of us generally live lives of separation, disconnected in various ways from a larger kinship of our fellow human beings, unable to perceive how intrinsic each of us and every single aspect of earth and nature is to each other. It often seems to take a tragedy to bring us together in community, force us to meet our neighbors, or realize a felt sense of being part of something larger than our individual selves living our everyday lives.
Due to our overwhelming self-centeredness (a term I use not to mean arrogance so much as the unconscious evolutionary tendency to create our lives to revolve around what’s important to “me”: my life, my schedule, my work, my preferences, my family, etc.), it seems our cultural evolution has led us to abandon both the general human community as well as the earth itself. Little do we realize this leaves us vulnerable on many fronts.
Without a larger circle of support from interconnection, or the sense of being held within a greater fabric of being, stressors stemming from challenges we’ve created for ourselves through various aspects of culture and development (along with their correlating psychological issues) affect us more deeply. Climate change, ecological destruction, natural disasters, and pathological culture-related events including outbreaks of violence all feed into our anxiety and fear, triggering sometimes unhealthy coping mechanisms. In addition, without community, we lose the capacity for having our own actions reflected back to us, causing those actions to appear to occur in a vacuum without apparent consequence.
The unconscious ways we each contribute to our collective discomfort and dis-ease in a world where we have isolated and alienated ourselves only serve to amplify and perpetuate a drastic systemic imbalance for both nature and culture. This imbalance continues to feed on itself, manifesting in a critical rise in adverse conditions for earth and all its inhabitants. Carolyn Baker offers some excellent and compelling insights into the... (click here to read entire post)