of global breakthrough
This was a book never published. I sat on it for another six years before reworking and rewriting it, publishing it as Healing the Hurts of Nations in 2003. (Get it from Gothic Image of Glastonbury here.)
What's in this book is nevertheless rich and far-reaching. Now re-published here.
These essays concern the identity and behaviour of nations and human groups - and particularly their unconscious behaviour and myths. This is important because we now stand on the threshold of a planetarisation of humanity, in which our identity-groups, such as nations, tribes and social subgroups, are taking on a different significance. But these identities are still important since one of Earth's strengths is the genetic, cultural and historical variability of its people and cultures. Yet we're all one human family.
Healing the Hurts of Nations. A Big Idea. Must be one of those high-faluting schemes cooked up by some bearded Norwegian UN bureaucrat in Geneva. Or something freshly escaped from Marin County. Regrettably, it isn't.
It isn't something we leave to politicians, diplomats or glamorous visionaries, and it has little to do with raising taxes or twiddling with legislation – it concerns you and me, very fundamentally. It concerns a root-to-branch transformation of absolutely all and everything in our world. It concerns the world we're leaving to our children and grandchildren. I would propose to you that such transformation is necessary if we are to survive and thrive longer than the next few decades.
We are members of nations, and the fortunes of nations are connected to our personal fortunes. We tend to blame people 'in power' or 'in office' for our difficulties. This is valuable to some extent, but eventually it wears thin. The acute distinction between being 'in power' and 'in office' was pointed out by a top British politician, Norman Lamont, in his 1993 resignation speech. When he said that the government was in office yet not in power, his words spoke more than he perhaps meant.
However, whether people are 'in power' or 'in office', they are there because we put them there. Or because we allowed them to be put there. Or because we allowed them to put themselves there. Choose your option: your choice reflects your personal relationship with democratic rights and power, rooted in your beliefs.
My belief is that it is we who are responsible for the world's future, and that those in power or in office are in service, in our employ – and if they are not clear about that, either we or they need to correct something. As their employers, we need to carefully select our employees with full awareness of the consequences! However, we need to support them intelligently too, since opposing authority figures is simply the reverse of the same syndrome which places blind faith in them.
These essays constitute an unapologetic statement of considered belief, offered for your cogitation and reflection. It doesn't actually matter whether or not you agree with the ideas presented here: I seek but to provide some aerobic exercise for soul, heart and brain, to play with Big Pictures.
I start with a bundle of basic propositions. These are:
the human race and planet Earth are in deep trouble – the path we have been following throughout history has led to consequences now threatening our existence and progress;
this trouble is global in extent – known historical precedents, though some have been large, have been relatively local or regional, of limited effect on the world as a whole;
the crunch-point of these developments lies in our current time and the coming half-century or so, affecting us personally and bearing on our children – this we know, even if many invest much in denial or obfuscation;
there is a solution to this enormous problem – we are capable of finding it and resolving the greatest of difficulties in our global situation, even if we might not yet know how or possess sufficient will to do it;
two major purposes underlie human life on Earth: we are here to learn by being here, and we are here to create things that are as yet uncreated. We have learned a lot and created some remarkable things, yet there's still a long way to go, and we have a job to do which we haven't yet done;
we have created today's global crisis through our own historic choices and acts, and the situation and its consequences are an integral part of our learning and creating process;
the very nature of our current situation gives clues about the next stage of civilisation. We're on the threshold of entering a new kind of civilisation.
These essays are built around these assumptions. Their underlying thread and validity will unfold as we progress. Our theme is built up in a fractal manner – dollops of ideas are lobbed into the stew to cook and meld into the whole underlying picture, looked at from many viewpoints. The point behind this is to widen the considerations involved in an assessment of planetary transformation and to suggest ideas and perspectives many readers might not have thought of.
May these essays bring benefit to all those responsible for bringing humanity through this next stage of history. Oh, and incidentally, everyone is responsible for that! Without exception. So these essays are for you. You might not be in office, yet you are nevertheless in power – if, that is, you choose to exercise it!
The essays might appear to be a jumble of unrelated bits, images and factors. Look between the lines. Like a fractal pattern, it's possible to zoom into convoluted details and to zoom out to see a big picture which is nevertheless intricate. We're tackling an enormous subject, and there are no neat, simple, mapped-out answers available. Anyone advocating these yet has something to learn. Nevertheless, between the lines of these essays there is a clear message: we can do it, there's probably no alternative, and the pay-offs from success could be immense.
Please form your own conclusions – and slowly! The pictures I paint in these pages constitute but my own current 'take' on the situation. Yet the future will be hammered out through a miraculous chemical reaction of all of the reality-pictures we humans can develop. We're all responsible. So mote it be.
The billion-dollar question of today is: what can we ourselves do to influence, correct or redeem our future history? Faced with the complexity and intensity of today's world, we suffer an apparent incapacity to influence it personally. Yet there are indeed ways by which we individuals, especially collectively, can accelerate forward motion in our evolution. These ways come to the foreground toward the end of the book.
Billions of people are mentioned in these pages. To every generalisation made, there are bound to be exceptions. To catalogue and examine exceptions and differing shades of reality would make our journey impossibly long and laborious. Therefore, please forgive sweeping generalisations!
It behoves me to acknowledge that, as with all teachers, I teach what I myself most need to learn. In this case, it's about healing old hurts. In my case – this might apply to you too – working on the aspects of today's world situation which interlock with my own personal situation helps me resolve issues in both arenas. The world around us is a reflection of what goes on within us, and the nexus of our attention needs to be in the crossing-point of both spheres.
Many people labour under the idea that you can't help the world until you've fixed yourself. I'm no saint or enlightened being, yet I have found that personal growth is never-ending – it's a layers-of-the-onion matter. I have worked for years with my inner 'stuff' and my psychological patterns, and I've noticed increasingly that my own capacity to move forward is affected by the world around me – no matter how much I try to 'own my stuff' and deal with my own personal side of the equation. Though it's possible to be loving regardless of other's responses, I find the love in my heart is affected by the love present in the public domain, and I find myself coming back to the question of transforming the world, as an integral part of transforming myself. They are not separate, and neither precedes the other.
This is interesting, since it constitutes a return to the political standpoints I started with when I was a young student in LSE around 1970. While a politicised student, I realised that social change started within society's individuals. Marxism, for example, didn't work because it was imposed or inculcated on its subjects, rather than emerging from them. So I started rooting around in the back cupboards of my psyche to try to remove the stuff restricting my engagement in world change. By middle age I've moved a few steps further on and I've found that self-transformation moves further and faster if my energies are dedicated to world service. What's the use of personal freedom and happiness if the world as a whole lands up in dire straits?
The purpose of these essays, therefore, is to show how our world history and our planetary future are intimately bound up with our own personal interests! Please enjoy!
Glastonbury, England, 1997.