Monday, December 1, 2008
Biologically, we humans are helpless and vulnerable for many years at the start of our lives. To be alone, to be abandoned, is a serious survival issue for a baby -- so we have an emotional mechanism, which tells us when we're alone, saddens us, depresses us, to the point of despair, and makes us cry out for help. Until we get that help, we can stay in that state. If we stay in it too long, we adapt to it, and it can become a chronic ailment. This is a baby's survival mechanism gone wild. For adults, the baby's mechanism is latent and, unfortunately, often surfaces just in time to prevent a solution to a long-standing crisis.
I've always felt that the way out of depression is a recognition of the mechanism of depression. Thousands of spiritual writings end with this key finding: know thyself. Knowledge is just the first step, but it's the main one. Understanding may itself be the survival mechanism that has emerged to correct debilitating sadness.
Clearly, this is a metaphor.
People are naturally interdependent. Sure, we like personal achievement, but we do it, in a sense, for our communities. When communities grew into massive faceless societies, we lost the personal support networks that everyone used to have, in order to survive a crisis. We began instead to depend upon the public and private institutions that conquer, enslave, control and inculcate us.
We became helpless as babies. Those institutions don't exist to help people, but rather to self-perpetuate and provide control to the elite. The institutions inevitably emerge into crisis, causing us much woe. And each time a crisis emerges, we pressure the institutions to change their mission, to become more people-oriented. We must pressure institutions, even though it seems like the subsequent reform is trivial, because every little bit helps someone, somewhere.
But we must also become independent. We must also form communities again. Our collective power is great, if we understand it, if we know ourselves.
A corollary to this: let's get to know each other.
Do you want your local economy to survive? Find out what people are doing in your community ... not just the political and business leaders, but the community organizers, the small businesses, the non-profits, the kind-hearted people you know, etc. When you discover something interesting, do whatever you can to provide that information, on the street and on the web, to as many people as you can.
Meet each other.
Connect with each other.
Listen to each other.
Link to each other.
Write about each other.
Collaborate with each other.
Help each other.
Otherwise, we're just a bunch of babies.