Chris Renzo, Contributing Writer
In the same way that we must question our personal intentions and behaviors to grow, so to do we need to question the social intentions and behaviors of our current society. The two are never separate.
Growth and moving forward begins the moment we summon the courage to create change in our lives. Courage is a universal phenomena. It is something we all muster up in times of challenge. The challenges and travails we endure as individuals we also endure as a collective society and no longer do I see personal growth as solely “personal.” It is our narcissism that keeps us solely focused on our individual troubles. Yet I believe this narcissism is born from the standards of our cultural ethic. It is not something we can really blame ourselves about. Yet without awareness of this we fail to see that our individual problems stem from the fact that our cultural ethic condones a life of isolation, fear for survival, the need for comparison, as well as a multitude of other ways of being that diminish our quality of life. And in the same way that we are numb to the disastrous effects that the corporate state is having on the planet, so to are we numb to the fact that this corporate state and the life it espouses is detrimental to us as individuals.
Our cultural ethic tells us we never have enough and that the only way to secure our personal need is to compete against each other. This fear driven ethic is simply not working anymore. We may not see that there is a way out. And if we are wealthy enough we find ways to not have empathy for those who are suffering. But without questioning and inquiring into the possibility of a new way of life, at both the individual level and at the social level, we condone a spiritual death that eventually consumes the entire soul of humanity.
What I am attempting to do with my writing is to encourage you to think for yourself and question standard cultural assumptions. For example, question to yourself, what is “progress” at the social level? Is progress all about how we create greater sums of profit? But hasn’t profiteering off the destruction of our ecosystems had devastating global consequences? The dominant cultural ethic suggests to us that our advancements in technology, medicine, and production out weight the consequences of their proliferation. Yet, a race that is not mature enough to use advanced technology destroys itself. A race that does not allow its greatest medical achievements to reach everyone, because it is a for-profit industry, leaves millions bankrupt and or dead prematurely. We need to look at this reality if we are to grow as individuals.
What ever happened to the idea that progress is the creation of a communal ethic that creates harmony out of the empathy we feel for each other?
Real individual growth is all about being aware to the fact that our lives are inseparable and thus creating a society that allows for harmony between our inner and outer realities. Without questioning ourselves and without questioning society we fail to grow. The two are not separate. Let me give you a quick example. Anthropologists that have spent intimate time with some of the few nomadic tribes left on the planet have found that these people never harm each other. There is no rape, no robbery, and no murder. The reason why is that the tribe instinctively knows it is one organism. Everyone depends on each other for their individual survival.
Given the state of our world as it is now we can no longer afford to be afraid to look at the hard truth.
It is becoming overwhelming apparent that our society is in the midst of big challenges. Here in a America we have staggering inequality, a real unemployment rate over 16% [source], and the future of our current economic infrastructure is in imminent danger of collapsing. The corporate elite who cajoled the public, without a voice, into bailing out their institutions with taxpayer subsidies created a situation that devastated the middle and lower classes. The elite who control political and economic affairs knows the system is broken. They are using all tactics possible to accumulate the lasts bits of wealth and dismantle public power as they go out to create their untouchable gated oasis. We live in a totalitarian regime with a faceless dictator. Unregulated markets make monsters out of men, but yet the real problem is our apathy that condones this way of life.
Chris Hedges wrote that “cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die.” In the same way that we must seek personal insights to overcome our unique personal challenges so to do we also need to seek social insight into the way we live. Again, as we fail to see that the collective social problem is our personal problem we are creating a future that is not in the favor of the majority of people. The excess and narcissistic indulgence that we enjoy now comes at a major cost when we will no longer be able to afford the security we need to survive in the future as the integrity of our planet degrades.
Spiritual and emotional work is not just personal. It is primarily social. Imagine asking Martin Luther King or Ghandi what was important to them. It was not their individual gains that led to personal well being, but rather it was the joy and sense of accomplishment they received from their involvement in pushing society towards justice for all. When we continue to allow those in power to keep “business as usual” without protesting for what is “right” justice and equality continue to decay. To see the truth can be a scary thing. But without knowledge and insight we will not grow, but rather, we will cannibalize ourselves into spiritual death.
St. Augustine stated that the rebel knows that hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage – anger at the way things are and the courage to see they do not remain as they are. We are at a point now that individual growth is short sighted if it does not account for the well-being of others and a healthy functioning planet. Do not expect any government to fix these problems. These problems are not exterior to any of us. They are within us. And only with radical courage to see things as they are and a determined collective of voices to make change can we grow as both individuals and as a collective society. We are undoubtedly one. And the challenges we face as individuals, in a profound way, arise because we have lost sight of establishing a society that puts the gains of the community first as opposed to the gains of the individual.
About the Author
Christopher Renzo is a life coach and writer who specializes in helping others get in touch with their source of inner power and confidence to create a more harmonious life. He has been working with clients in a professional manner since 2009 and has been helping people with his intuitive gifts ever since he was a teenager. He holds the notion that once people understand the root of their troubles from a psychological and spiritual perspective, they can break free from the conditions that bound them to a life of discontent. Born and raised in the New York Metropolitan area, Christopher now resides in Berkeley, California. Please visit his excellent blog, Keen Awareness.
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