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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/2/17

To Theodore on the Day of the People's Climate March

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Today while the climate march moves forward I'm thinking about the late Theodore Roszack who died on a summer day in his California home at the age of 77 from liver cancer.

I miss him. I miss his wisdom, his perspective, his call to people everywhere to respond to the "madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment."

He urged us to join those ecologists and environmentalists who warn that we're on a path of self-destruction. He implored therapists not to remain so focused on our clients' individual issues that we fail to confront the wounds inflicted by a "deeply toxic" culture.

In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove on Thinking Allowed, he encouraged us to find out why ordinary people are engaging in behaviors that are so destructive. To ask, "how did we lose our intimate connection to the natural world?" And "what drives us so fiercely towards material gain at the expense of community, spirituality, health, morality, and so very much more?" And he advised us to listen very carefully to the answers as closely and as genuinely as we listen to our clients sacred and singular stories.

He pointed out that while our mental health system had focused for so long on trauma, pathology, and illness, there have always been those who've maintained, "the deeper you look inside, the more reason you find for joy, for celebration; that the foundations for human nature are clean and good and innocent and creative."

He implored mental health professionals to lead the way in helping people move away from the burdens of shame, guilt and original sin and towards what psychoanalyst Eric Fromme called, 'biophilia' -- the love of humanity and life. He asserted that if we were to fall in love with the beauty that's contained both within the natural world and within ourselves, we'd be far more proactive in caring for our planet, and one another.

In an interview on PBS which focused on ideas from his first book, an examination of the revolutionary youth movement of the sixties entitled, "The Making of a Counter Culture," Roszac suggested that if the ethos of the sixties had prevailed today, "it would be a world where people lived gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. It would be a simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, and much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, and community. Community was one of the great words of this period, connecting with others, solving problems, enjoying one another's company, sharing ideas, values, and insights. And if that's not what life is all about, if that's not what the wealth is for, then we are definitely on the wrong path."

In his final book, The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America's Most Audacious Generation, he called on boomers like myself to reclaim the spirit that was very much alive in the sixties, the one that "questioned rather deeply the cultural standards of the time." He asked us now that we are becoming elders to revive the energy and commitment we had back when we were young to work to birth a kinder, more sustainable and just world.

I miss you, Theodore. I took you for granted. I was too self-absorbed to fully hear your message. And then, as is all too often the case with we humans, you got my full attention only when I found out that you had left us. I'm listening now with both a sad and grateful heart, and I am hoping that just maybe you are able to see this mighty march moving forward now, right now. Just maybe more of us are starting to hear you, finally...
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Tammie Fowles is a psychotherapist, celebrant, and author currently practicing in Lewiston, Maine.. She has a Masters degree in Social Work and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and is a certified celebrant. She is the author of "BirthQuake: The (more...)
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