Civilisations don’t last forever. Everything comes to an end at some point, and we are all living in an uncertain ‘in-between’ era, where one world is dying and another is doing its best to be born, although one has to admit that there are a hell of a lot of people working hard to try and keep our old unsustainable world alive! I suspect that they’re engaged in a game called Mission Impossible!
Our planet has certainly had a profound ‘wake up’ call, and in this Newsletter I want to mention a few positive and a few negative consequences of this virus and then put forward a few suggestions of my own.
None of us can deny that all of us – whether rich or poor or whatever race, nationality, culture or sexual proclivity we belong to – are in the middle of a big crisis, which in Chinese is translated as ‘dangerous opportunity’.
Yes, my friend, actually I see huge opportunities lying ahead for us as a species, which I’ll talk about in a minute, but at the same time I cannot deny the fact that I also see danger lurking, for while being subject to big shocks can certainly serve to ‘wake us up’, it also follows that if we lack the capacity to process their effect, they can also be destructive for us.
Welcome to 2020 where I think we are not only called to inquire as to what might lie in store for us socially and politically, but also what kind of 2020 we are personally going to experience. Will it be an annus horribilis or an annus fantasticus? Or perhaps something in between.
A friend recently suggested that “the world is getting better and better and worse and worse faster and faster” and I think that’s a pretty accurate observation. I think today that we are all challenged to be what I call possibilists, that is, we seek to put our energy into possibilities that we’d like to see happen, as in this way, we can move away from either being an optimist (where we tend to deny that terrible things take place) or a pessimist (where we likewise close off to all the positive things occurring in the world, and, my friend, there are many!). Instead, we can good-heartedly embrace both polarities.
Oh dear, more crazy weather. A typhoon ends in one part of the globe only to be replaced by a tsunami or an earthquake in another. And more innocent people die.
Our planet is fed up with the way we have been treating her and in the same way that if we treat another person badly, they won’t particularly like us, Gaia is fighting back. She’s pissed off with humanity. And quite damn right. Thank goodness for organisations like Avaaz who are coordinating huge campaigns in this area as not enough of our politicians take climate change seriously enough as always it is the poor people, those least responsible for having f-d up our planet, who pay the price.
Bob Dylan, the man, has just won a Nobel prize. Hallelujah!
A tribute to Bobby
When I work with people in therapy I notice that often, just before they are about to make a big breakthrough – a significant leap to another level – they often have to come face to face with some of the worst things about themselves that are standing in the way. If they can confront and, as it were, embrace or integrate their dark side, then they will move to the next level and if not, they won’t. This process, however, is never easy. It is always painful when one has an image about oneself as being a kind, helpful person only to discover one has a shadow side living inside one that is exactly the opposite! Well, the same thing holds true of the evolution of the larger human collective – humanity as a whole also has a dark side – and so does America and I believe that, as a nation, America is poised on the threshold of making such a leap.
As a psychotherapist, I find that if people want to make changes in their lives, they need to see what doesn’t work in their lives and where there might be some part of themselves that is sick or ugly. Often change comes about through experiencing pain and being courageous enough to face dark truths about ourselves. The gift – and I really mean gift – that Donald Trump is giving America is that he is continually holding up a mirror to his country of an aspect of its own wounded, pathological, narcissistic and heartless psyche.
One of the reasons why the press has had such a field day with Tony Blair following the publication of the Chilcot report, is that we love to find fault with people, especially if they are wealthy and famous and have committed some indiscretion. And Blair, who took our country into an illegal war that should never have been fought, features on all three counts. He exaggerated the threat of the WMDs, he went to war even though peaceful options had not been exhausted, and he made no preparations for peace. He tried too hard to please the Americans.
QUESTION. ‘Serge, can you comment on the whole Brexit situation?
Well, it ‘s crazy times, isn’t it. This leaving the EU which we’ve been part of for so many years, has resulted in Cameron falling on his sword, a rebellion against Jeremy Corbyn and the possible splitting up of the Labour party, together with our seeing some rather ugly racism rear its head in England. As Lord Hazeltine said on the late-night news: ‘We are facing the greatest constitutional crisis the country has had since the great war.’
For me, who wanted England to stay part of the EU, this break feels such an abrupt one. It’s as if a partner whom you had felt secure with – even though there were always a few ripples of unrest – suddenly tells you that they want a divorce and that life will be much better for you without them. You don’t realise how important and secure-making the relationship was until it is no more. And now everything is up in the air. None of us know, least of all our politicians, where anyone or anything stands and what our ‘exiting’ really involves.
Why this hostility between the stay in-ers and get-out-ers? It’s got like a religion – out of hand. We get so identified with our beliefs about what’s right and wrong that we think our beliefs are who we are. They are not. Those who think differently from us are not bad or wrong or deserve to be pilloried or humiliated. They are beautiful human beings who think differently about something and should not be crucified.
Remember Wordsworth talking about the healing principle in life that reconciles opposites. We must remember this and know there are truths on both sides and no one is bad or dumb or wrong and that we human beings just have a habit of liking to concoct facts to fit our beliefs. I bet that whichever side wins that few of the prophecies are proved correct be they on the positive or the negative side.