(image by Tamera)
A primary angst of modern day is alienation, according to psychologists Abraham Maslow and Eric Fromm. This sense of alienation is primary to states of depression and anxiety. Do we truly experience a sense of belonging in our neighborhoods, our culture, nature, or this world?
Could it be that the symptomatic angst manifested in anxiety and depression of modern day is reflected in our communities, where oftentimes neighbors don't know each other, and there is no sense of interpersonal bonding? Do we continue medicating our alienation away with pharmaceutical medications, liquor, drugs, or other addictions? Do these drugs truly work? Or, do we make real changes within ourselves and our world?
Could our alienation driven depressions be kindled by a culture that reinforces behaviors of sitting in front of computer and television screens? What is the ultimate purpose of these technologies if not to soak up the commercials of Corporate America in between presentations of absurdity through comedy and drama geared to get you to the next commercial? Can you hear the scream of the next contestant on the show "The Price is Right"?
Who are we truly? Dare we be who we are by Nature? Our Nature is who we are in our nakedness. The debate about nudity is not about nudity, but about people being who they are in the Nature of their true Self. Nature and Self are one. Being who we are in our natural state is simply not profitable for the Corporations.
On an about.com article on the issue of alienation, it is stated:
In social psychology, the need to belong is an intrinsic motivation to affiliate with others and be socially accepted. This need plays a role in a number of social phenomena such as self-presentation and social comparison.
Our need to belong is what drives us to seek out stable, long lasting relationships with other people. It also motivates us to participate in social activities such as clubs, sports teams, religious groups, and community organizations. By belonging to a group, we feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves. (http://psychology.about.com/od/nindex/g/needtobelong.htm)
Being socially accepted is, simply, being honored for who we are in our truth.
Our alienation is also reflected in our loss of relationship to the land upon which we live. Indeed, Theodore Rozak, an ecopsychologist, states that our lack of contact with Nature is alienating. In line with my thesis presented above, what is Nature if not the Self?
How do we unfold a world where folks feel that they belong?
First we need to identify some of the drivers to alienation. Is our world of shopping centers that evolved into malls that evolved into big box stores how we connect to life? Are these truly alive as Nature is truly alive? Can the folks shopping along side one another truly be considered a community? Are we the walking dead?
I s our pollution and overgrowth a reflection of the death of our Psyche, or Soul? Could it be we are the ones that need to be awakened by Love, the kissing prince in Cinderella's dream? Could the wicked witch that has knocked us unconscious perhaps be the industrial-government complex?
There is a widespread series of movements across the world to try to awaken the sleeping Princess. Their goal is nothing less than to resurrect Life in community on this planet. These movements also bring forth a sense of belonging and a positive relationship to Nature, and thus to the Self. We are not aliens navigating in a strange and dangerous environment; we are brother and sister members of the one family of Life on Earth.
These movements include Transition Towns, which arose from the work of Rob Hopkins. In Transition Towns, people living in an already established area bond together to make their communities more ecologically and humanly friendly while diminishing the need for fossil fuels. These programs often utilize gardening styles such as permaculture to help people become more self-sufficient. They also are more apt to use a consensus type of decision making which engages the whole community rather than just a few "key players".
Another movement entails the development and planning of ecovillages, which are often referred to as intentional communities. The Fellowship for Intentional Communities introduces their work as follows: