A few years ago, I used to feel there was a dichotomy between my roles as psychotherapist and social activist. Increasingly, I am coming to see where they converge, as many of our personal difficulties mirror social problems and many social and economic problems are reflected in our emotional symptoms.
Interestingly, what I have also found with my clients, is that those people heal their emotional wounds much more quickly to the extent that they are willing to stand up for social values they believe in and see their lives not solely from a personal viewpoint – what do I want; what’s in it for me? – but who also experience being part of a larger whole and needing in some way, to live in a way that contributes to this larger whole of life. In other words, if many of our personal problems revolve around our not experiencing enough “meaning” in our lives (as when we subscribe to society’s diminishing description of us as mere “consumers” (Yuk!), I have found that the more we commit ourselves to, as Gandhi would put it, being “the change we want to see happen”, i.e., trying to actually embody the values we believe in in how we live our daily lives, the happier we feel.
Just perused the “Rich List” published every year by the Times and the fact that we have such a list says something about the culture we live in and what obsesses us and we also see that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown much much bigger in the last few years and which I feel is the greatest problem in the world.
Those who often suffer because they have too much of everything and those who suffer because they have nothing of anything. Oxfam tells us that last year, the hundred richest people earned enough to end extreme poverty four times over. Wow! Also the richest 200 people in the world have about $2.7 trillion, which is more than the poorest three and a half billion, who only have about $2.2 trillion combined. Wow!
I feel very devastated by this recent Nepalese earthquake and the suffering of those beautiful, noble people, so many of whom in the last war did so much for England and gave their lives for us, and all the aid we’re offering is 5 million pounds. Seems stingy to me. Maybe the government will offer more… I quickly emailed my good friend who lives there, a beautiful priest whom I first met at Kuala Lumpa airport and we’ve been buddies ever since but I haven’t yet heard back and hope and pray he and his family are still alive.