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The Value of Cataclysm

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Message Blair Gelbond

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I believe it is time for us to be looking carefully at issues relevant to both the survival and the unfolding maturation of the human species as a whole. Edgar Morin has said that in addition to "real-world" issues facing individuals, communities, and nations, such as world hunger, poverty, or ecological degradation, our world must also meet and grapple with "problems of the second order" or "meta-problems", which are revealed in the way we think about and formulate solutions to these "external problems".

Speaking of humanity's desperate need for "a reform in thinking", Morin describes the all-too-common "black/white", "right/wrong", "either/or" approach to solving problems as a mode of thought that is "simplistic in the extreme, which underlies so many dialogues, [leading] inevitably to dead-ends... [This occurs in part because it is] blind to inter-retro actions and circular causality."

Morin argues that, whether we realize it or not, problems are spatially and temporally interdependent; therefore, only a complex kind of thinking (which he also describes as "holographic", "recursive", and "dialogic") can "deal with the 'inseparability of problems' in which each depends on the other." Such a reform in thinking, Morin summarizes, implies a mental revolution "of considerably greater proportions than the Copernican revolution".

American culture has created a socio- (or psycho-)pathic "me first" social mold. Paul Levy has called it "Malignant Egophrenia" (or "Me" Disease). Just look at what we've done to the earth, our only home. Or lavishly paid CEOs who are willing to operate a runaway destructive financial system that demands the exploitation of people and other living beings for short-term gain. No sane person would behave that way. And the 2020s will be the time when the chickens begin to come home to roost: time to pay the piper.

In exploring some of the perils and promises likely to be a part of our unfolding future, a number of writers have employed the metaphor of humanity being ill, perhaps with a cancer-like malady. Certainly, there are a number of parallels between the way the way in which humanity appears to be eating its way indiscriminately across the surface of the planet... and a malignant growth that develops in a human being (eventually destroying the body on which it depended).

Extending this image. we might say that malignant cells are like "egocentric cells", concerned only with producing more of themselves (and perhaps "their kind"), and oblivious to the cost of their endeavor. Yet, for such a "disease metaphor" to even begin to be helpful in motivating us to seek healing, there is an obvious prerequisite. We would first need to allow ourselves to recognize and accept that we have a disease.

This crucial issue brings us to yet another image. What if, instead of a formal malignancy, we imagine that humanity, as a species, now has a life-threatening addiction? In Addiction and Grace May stresses that the psychological, neurological, and spiritual dynamics of full-fledged addiction can be found actively at work within every human being. He compares it to a "psychic malignancy sucking our life energy into specific obsessions and compulsions, leaving less and less energy available for other people and other pursuits".

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Blair Gelbond Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I work as a psychotherapist with an emphasis on transformational learning - a blend of psychoanalytic and transpersonal approaches, and am the author of Self Actualization and Unselfish Love and co-author of Families Helping Families: Living with (more...)

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