A while back, I discussed the concept of a societal depression not as a financial phenomenon but as an unhealthy set of collective belief structures. In particular, the move from a community relationship based society to an individualist materialist one. In essence, that there is a growing tendency that people only bond with others on a surficial level with the sole purpose of material gain.
This shift creates a society built upon ego. There are winners and there are throwaway people. If a person can’t comply with your needs, wants, and desires or does not otherwise fit in with your plans for success then they are quickly dropped by the wayside. The drive to success is all that really matters. The end justifies the means. Children can be put in daycare, the elderly in homes, and the disabled dismissed as unproductive. Labels.
We see no value in helping each other through difficult times (unless there’s a tax receipt or some sort of recognition). Somehow we’ve lost the ability to see past the circumstance that an individual is experiencing to the person beneath. It makes perfect sense; we don’t know self-compassion so we can’t even fathom not judging someone based upon our limited perceptions.
Of course, the more we distance ourselves from others (and our true selves), the colder and harsher our world becomes. We bury our feelings and then mask our pain with drugs, alcohol, food, and possessions. We trade who we are for what we think others want us to be. Then, we spend those dark nights of the soul completely alone with no easy way out.
I think that when human beings are off balance they tend towards extremes before they re-find their healthy equilibrium. I think over the last century, we’ve seen some of the worst evil known to man. Atrocities during the World Wars, massacres by war lords, abuse of our children (just to name a few), ultimately things done by human beings to other fellow human beings.
By the same token, we’ve also see some examples of goodness and kindness. We’ve seen great people like Mother Theresa who dedicated her entire life to a better life for so-called throwaway people. More recently, we’ve even experienced how ordinary individuals will band together during natural disasters.
Yes, we all know that the world can be a harsh and lonely place. We’ve all probably tasted more than our fair share of that. But we all have to start to wonder what the world would be like if we all decided to do what was right rather than what fills our pocketbook. We’ve heard these amazing stories of community and caring during natural disasters so we know that good and right is still in there somewhere.
Perhaps though, it’s not the big actions of a few individuals that will ultimately make the difference. Maybe, it’s the day to day efforts of regular people. People who decide they will make the right choices for the right reasons even if they never become rich or famous. Those who say, tonight I’m going to listen rather than talk and seek connections rather than look for networking opportunities.
Then, when these individuals face that dark night of the soul, they aren’t going to be alone. They will have the support of community, family, and friends but perhaps most importantly they will have their own back. They will refuse to be considered throwaways. They will believe that they are more than their traumas and dramas. Ultimately, they will realize that we all deserve to be happy and live meaningful lives no matter what experiences we’ve had in our lives.
Imagine how something as small as self-compassion could change a life. Now, imagine how many people would be touched by that single example. Multiply that. Eventually, couldn’t we, small ordinary people, change the world?