Day Two of 2022

Already on January 1, we were hearing about a pilgrims’ stampede in India leaving many dead, Colorado wildfires after a 2021 winter of no snow and extreme drought, a shooting at a Mississippi New Year party, flight cancelations and airports chaos, and more.

What can be different? What can be better? Why is it that with our remarkable resources of knowledge, scientific expertise, organizational skills, and most of all the wealth of human spirit, we have not been able to do better, and after a brief holiday respite, we are back to the same issues?

If we seriously intend to do better in 2022, we have to look beyond immediate events and seek to grasp the core issue that plagues our cultures and societies. What do racism, religious intolerance, systemic injustice, mindless consumerism, and materialistic excess express?

From a psychological perspective, there are important parallels to be gleaned between the individual psyche and our collective psyche. We know that when an individual life shows signs of fragmentation, the person ails. They have to take time to examine their inner reality and their life choices, and to awaken to any compartmentalized and unaddressed tensions, fears, conflicts that need resolution. Psychological integration is the path to health and wellbeing. The same applies to our societies which are deeply fragmented. The parts are in conflict with each other — how, then, can the whole system be healthy and use its resources optimally?

In yesterday’s blog, on the first day of 2022, we explored opening inner spaciousness and seeing through that softer space. When we view our societies from such an inner space, we recognize that most people, including those from groups with which we feel ideologically opposed, seek and need the same things as we do. How is it that we have created traditions, cultural practices, and social structures that set us against each other? Perhaps these traditions, practices, and structures express only partial truths and perspectives, and if examined with the eye of wisdom and discernment, can become more inclusive and integrate diverse perspectives more effectively.

Let’s consider the picture above. This pyramid of wisdom is how sages from ancient times until today have understood a balanced approach to reality — one in which science, religion, and philosophy serve as mutual correctives and complement each other’s partial perspectives. What might that look like in the concrete interactions between us? We can explore endless examples here, but I’ll take the example of a dear lifelong friend of mine, who keeps telling me that even though we love each other, we stand on very different ideological grounds and we will never agree. He is an Eastern Orthodox Christian and believes in traditions, family, and hard work; and he thinks that the voices of entitlement and whining have overpowered and rendered meaningless personal responsibility, stamina, and duty. I am a Bahá’í and believe in the core oneness of the spiritual teachings of all religious traditions, and in the need to organize society in ways that ensure justice and dignity for every person. I keep telling him that we are not so different, that if we apply a balanced scientific-religious-philosophical approach to our respective (and by definition limited) points of view, we could agree on many core principles. It is a matter of putting discernment above ideology.

We could agree that moderation is the best path and that any extreme approach, even when it comes to advocacy for more justice, tends to invalidate its own claim. We could agree that traditions, family values, and hard work matter, and could most likely agree that every person should have a fair chance at them, which is not the case now. We could agree that human nature has its baser instincts such as greed, but that we also have the capacity to harness those and become intentional in how we live.

And how can such an agreement address extreme weather events and violence in society? Can we see the direct connection between interpersonal justice and systemic justice? Between fair-mindedness and moderation among us, and fair-minded and moderate use of planetary resources?

As you can see, the connection between the outer reality in our societies and our inner reality is a direct one. So, can we choose to become more intentional this year in opening inner and outer spaces where moderation and discernment generate viable solutions?

This essay draws on the deeper examination of these questions in my recent book, Global Unitive Healing: Integral Skills for Personal and Collective Transformation, available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Global-Unitive-Healing-Collective-Transformation/dp/1945026766/ref=sr_1_1?crid=Z19I0JOZ5GEF&keywords=global+unitive+healing+mustakova&qid=1642863077&sprefix=global+unitive%2Caps%2C86&sr=8-1

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Elena Mustakova

Elena Mustakova

Psychotherapist, social scientist, spiritual coach … living with depth, discernment, and ground, in meaningful relationship with shifting planet.