This article is essentially about psychological health and holistic well-being. It is also about the maturation of the human species.
No one receives an operating manual at birth. In many ways being human is a conundrum, especially when we are born into a dysfunctional culture. And, the truth is that many American families have been dysfunctional for generations, creating patterns we've absorbed. This dysfunction has blocked our ability to mature; as a result, the term "adult child" has made its way into our language.
As a baby and young child, the self is like wet clay. Emotional impressions made during our upbringing eventually harden and solidify. This implies that under normal circumstances, if we truly seek well-being, a great many of us have work to do on ourselves.
Beyond this, we live in a culture that has been wildly dysfunctional for a very long time. As Maslow said, a society or a culture can be either growth-fostering or growth-inhibiting. He noted additionally, that growth-inhibiting conditions "tend to produce a diminished, stunted or crippled organism."
It is being predicted by renowned individuals such as Joanna Macy, Edgar Morin, Riane Eisler, Margaret Wheatley, Ervin Laszlo and Duane Elgin that, in the upcoming years, we will be facing a series of accelerating crises. Included in this daunting list: increasing climate disruption, spreading regions of water scarcity, declining agricultural productivity, massive species extinction, enormous disparities of wealth, increased financial exploitation, rising numbers of climate refugees, overbearing impersonal, bureaucratic systems, oppression and human rights violations, democratic apathy, nuclear weapons, radioactive waste, and mendacious government agendas.
Willis Harman wrote: "Can you have healthy persons in an unhealthy system -- a system based on an essentially unhealthy paradigm?... The first step is to face our taboos and our toxic patterns with honesty and integrity."
So, too, Erich Fromm spoke about "the pathology of normalcy":
"When pathological processes become socially patterned, they lose their individual character. On the contrary, the sick individual finds himself at home with all other similarly sick individuals. The whole culture is geared to this kind of pathology and arranges the means to give satisfactions which fit the pathology.
"[The individual] feels at ease among those who suffer from the same deformation; in fact, it is the fully sane person who feels isolated in the insane society-and he may suffer so much from the incapacity to communicate that it is he who may become psychotic."
These prescient statements were made well before society's unraveling began to become more overt.
To traverse what appears to be in store for our species and our planet in the upcoming years, we will no doubt need inner strength and stability.
Practical visionaries have argued that we have reached the beginning of a time of historic transition that, in the coming years, will be unprecedented in its urgency, scale, and severity.
It appears that humanity is about to hit an "ecological wall" and an "evolutionary wall." The first emerges when we run into the physical limits of nature to sustain humanity; the second is when we run into ourselves - the limits of our adolescent behavior - and are pushed to turn toward more mature, adult ways of being re- living on the planet.
There are many factors that contribute to this state of malfunction of the systems in which we live. Any understanding of the situation needs to be very complex and provisional, and any, even partial, solution must take into account many parameters. And perhaps the most confusing element in all this is that we do not yet see clearly what is actually happening, and much remains unknown about our current state and what we can do about it.
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