Where will it end? How can we find the upside of an international financial crisis that has caused and will continue to cause millions of people profound tangible losses? How can we develop a healthier approach to individual and political governance that will reap a sustainable balance between stability and growth?
Can we, a nation of instant gratification junkies, stop long enough to reevaluate and address the causes of our dysfunction? It begs the question: What does it mean to be a human being? What are our priorities? It may be anxiety provoking to consider anything beyond sealing the leak for now. But the fact is, we must retrofit our very foundations.
What if we used this moment of devastation and fear to look inside and see what each of us can do beyond fixing the manifest problem? In addition to accepting and mourning the loss of the old familiar ways, we must also take an earnest inventory of what happened and why. Only from here can we begin the difficult work of redirecting the destructive patterns that have led us to disaster.
Pursuing a serious personal inquiry leads to the realm of the soul, the sacred, the spiritual: To actively be human, a human being human, not doing, not earning, not consuming, but a human being truly alive, a human being in relationship to others, a human being conscious and aware, a human being actively working for the mutual good of the planet, beginning with the humility of this one 'I.'
As children, we develop emotional and behavioral patterns for physical and psychological survival. But as we grow we need to upgrade some of these antiquated operating systems or suffer continuous crashes when faced with the complex demands of mature adulthood. Moshe Feldenkrais, who developed The Feldenkrais Method for rehabilitating physical injuries, broke down bodily movements into tiny parts, teaching patients to become hyperconscious of the impact of each muscle's micro-movements, thereby identifying exactly where the changes must occur in order to avoid further pain. In medicine, in psychology, and in a nation, a microscopic fracture can deteriorate the entire organism.
Of late, I have witnessed the trajectory of patients' fears about the economy. There are deeper reasons why, beyond economics, we have fallen, both individually and collectively, into this black hole. So what happens when we venture inside the personal blackness beyond the obvious? Do we want to see? The culprits are those unresolved parts of ourselves that continuously and automatically perpetuate embedded habits, good or bad. Will we release the narcissistic defenses we have previously used to cover our insecurities? Will we humble ourselves, just one notch, in order to examine our priorities and the effect our choices have on the world?
Meaningful change does not require a 180 degree turn. Picture a rocket headed for space at an astronomical speed. If its direction were altered just one degree, its destination would change immensely. And so it is psychologically. If each of us was willing to face our personal deficits, if we each chose one part, one tiny movement, with the vigilant commitment required to make a permanent shift, perhaps a new, positive habituation could replace the obsolete pattern.
This process must occur if we are to overcome our wounds and losses. Meanwhile, there is one small task with immediate urgency. It requires that we rise to the responsibility of being American citizens of humanity, acting as though the future of the whole world were in each of our hands. Doing so will cause a ripple effect, impacting all of our families, all of our communities, the entire organism that is our earth. Use your voice to begin the healing. Vote. For a change.