Every now and then there occurs what we call a ‘natural disaster.’ An earthquake, a tsunami, a drought or a flood maybe. Often many people lose their lives and numerous others are touched by these losses. It is a time when difference is set aside and people pull together as one to do whatever is needed to help their fellow man. It seems this ‘natural’ disaster evokes a ‘natural response’ from humanity, arising perhaps from our innate sense of connection with each other or our understanding of each other.
This natural response is to set aside our ‘keep ourselves to ourselves/mind your own business’ mentality and work together with our neighbours to “pick up the pieces.” We see or feel the suffering of our fellow man and our innate sense is to help and support them. Perhaps there is purpose in these ‘natural disasters’ that recognises the need for such an ‘opportunity’ in order to remind us of our innate unity with each other.
Is it possible though, that the greatest ‘disaster’ of all has slipped under the radar of our awareness and its impact lives unfettered in our lives every day? Are we living the after effects of a ‘tsunami of separation’ from each other that we can all feel but rarely acknowledge? Take a trip on the London Underground and observe hundreds of human beings at close quarters – often sandwiched into carriages like sardines in a can. How hard we all try to avoid the gaze of another. How hard we try to not connect with our fellow human beings.
Living in separation from each other is hardly natural. Innately we are gregarious and loving beings whose joy is in connecting with another of our kin.
Why then is it so evident that we avoid doing so? Where does this desire to remain separate come from? If it is not our nature, how is it we have made it our ‘reality’? Perhaps we have been hurt and now live in self-protection, treading cautiously around our fellow man. Maybe we have been ‘bitten’ by another, having opened up to them and now we live “once bitten, twice shy.” Could it be that we have lost trust in each other, having witnessed cruel and selfish acts? But what is the after effect of living in this contracted way? Is it not that we live in fear of our fellow man? This is a high price to pay.
This ‘tsunami’ is anything but natural for it surely goes completely against the grain of our innate love for ourselves and for each other. We live in the after effects of a very ‘unnatural disaster.’
One of the significant threats of our time is the potential for nuclear war. Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s was a time of fear that someone might just ‘push that button’ and those few who might survive such a war would end up living in an horrific ‘post nuclear society.’ The images were not pretty. Perhaps we should appreciate at this point that we have not taken that path – at least not on a global scale. That said, what if such an eventuality is in truth a reflection to us of the state of humanity? Is it possible that we can learn from the possibility, rather than the eventuality itself?
Could it be that we are in fact already living in a post-apocalyptic society, the apocalypse not being the nuclear war we have all feared, but the more subtle separation from ourselves and from each other that has led to a loveless state of being amongst human brothers? We may fear the physical destruction of our race, but are we looking in the right direction for the source of the destruction itself? Does the real disintegration of true society come from within us all in the shape of separation – firstly from our true essence, and then from each other?
Children are not born ignorant and unaware – in fact, they are acutely sensitive, tender and vulnerable beings. They feel when something is not loving and will clearly express the fact. This is perhaps because their true essence is love and they feel the stark contrast between who they are and what they feel.
But what happens as we/they grow? Do we nurture this sensitive and loving nature, or do we teach them ‘skills’ to protect and defend themselves from the harsh realities of the world? If so, do we bury our essence behind a suit of armour when it could in truth be the very thing we need to bring about a more loving way of being in life? Furthermore, is this insensitivity the very thing that makes the potential of nuclear war possible? Insensitivity that negates our feelings of connection with our fellow man supports our objectification of groups of people, leaving us able to contemplate this most horrific of paths.
Yet something that has been buried is not permanently lost. Perhaps a little digging is required. Perhaps some willingness to allow vulnerability is necessary. Maybe we need to be very self-loving and open our arms to our neighbours, even when there is no ‘natural disaster’ at hand.
This beautiful essence that each and every baby is born with is still alive within each and every man and can be reconnected to if we are willing to take what seems to be a risk and shed our armour. Doing so may in truth be the only truly ‘protective’ way there is.
We fear the worst but perhaps we should consider that “the worst has already happened” – and we are living in its wake.
By Richard Mills, Learning and Development Manager, Surrey, UK