Musings: The Acceleration of Healing

Over the past several weeks, The Grafton News – our town weekly newspaper – has published a volley of emotional "Letters to the Editor" which seem to have been triggered by the lack of basic courtesy in our lives. The original letter was written by one of the town's self-described "old-timers" who accused all the "newcomer" young, upwardly mobile, professional people in town of recklessly driving their SUVs in the supermarket parking lot while talking on their cell phones after having just breastfed their baby while standing in the express check-out line, all the while placating another of their whiny, sugar-laden, ADD brats in tow. Whew! There's a biting comment on our times!

For those who did not grow up in this fast-paced generation of seemingly endless change and demands, it is hard to understand how the American Dream, which the older generation so valiantly sacrificed and died for, has become such a nightmare of stress and dysfunction. Obviously, this "Greatest Generation" did not foresee the greed and short-sightedness which would result from establishing ourselves as a world superpower. They did not see how people would become disconnected from their hearts and souls in pursuit of their material dreams and how dangerous it would be when the people remained asleep even while the world crashed and burned around them. They, the elders who once risked their lives to preserve our privileged way of life, are now the casualties of our insensitive and materialistic culture. What our friend in the Grafton News was characterizing is the insanity going on right under our noses.

Musings: The acceleration of healingOur culture is a cancer. I will use myself as an example. Last year at this time, I was managing the production of Spirit of Change and navigating through periods of intense work each issue as best I could. Needless to say, at times the stress level gets high – too high to be a healthy environment in my opinion. One year later, I still manage this production schedule but now we've added a web site. Three years ago, we added Internet communication. Five years ago it was a fax machine. Can I imagine operating this magazine without any of those features? No. They are necessary to "keep pace." Yet, to keep adding new layers and channels of information to manage increases the overall stress level of production, as well as the time and energy involved. The bottom line is that if I want to work within the media and communication industry, I have to keep up with the accelerating pace of technology, even though it may add considerable stress to my life or even jeopardize my health.

I am not alone in this conflict. Men, women and even children are discovering their lives are like non-stop treadmills which keep getting busier and more cluttered with acquiring new things and pushing to do, be, experience more. This is the cause of the great stress we feel and can't seem to get away from. It is the source of our lack of courtesy and respect for each other and the Earth. We are tired, grouchy, spiritually weakened and mentally compromised. Yes, even our children are sick, and it's not because we haven't found the right drug dosage; it's because they are exposed to information and sensory overload – too much violence, mindless entertainment and indoctrination to buy, be, do and become. They are starved for the spiritual, community and cultural connections which were the hallmarks of generations past, but have been replaced by TVs, VCRs and video games in our time. Our children lack connection, awareness and appreciation for the Earth. They eat from a food supply poisoned with additives, toxic chemicals and genetic experimentation. We are sowing the seeds for our own future destruction.

This is what is meant by the cancer of our culture. Our materialistic culture is making us sick and causing us to behave in ways that are harmful to ourselves, our children and the planet as a whole. We are making the environment sick because we are taking much more than we need and then dumping our wastes in return. This is why many of the planet's ecosystems are dying, why whole populations are starving and suffering, and why the violence Americans have perpetrated around the globe is now coming back into our own homes – even at the hands of our own children. Americans are finally alarmed; they are worried about random violence and they are waking up. But is it too late?

I am encouraged by the many voices I hear and read about calling for a change in our attitude, our daily way of being in the world and being with each other. There is great strength in the numbers of people sounding the call for us to make the difference in the world just by becoming mindful of our actions. All these voices use healing as a central metaphor because our biggest challenge is to face our addiction to consumerism and see the damage our blind greed and ignorance has caused throughout the world. It is not necessary to become an environmental activist or political crusader to have a positive and healing effect in the world today. As Master Seung Heun Lee, a Korean sage, notes in this issue: "Healing does not have to be a grand undertaking. Picking up one more loose piece of trash or saying one more nice thing to your neighbor also qualifies."

We are gifted with hundreds of opportunities every day to have a positive thought or comment towards someone instead of a negative one. Or to act in a healing way rather than to wound or knock someone down. Or to learn about political and social action we can take in tackling some of the world's most complex problems. Even more, we can choose to pray, meditate, participate in spiritual ceremonies or attend events with a spiritual focus and intent. Make space in your vacation or relaxation plans this summer and fall to attend one of the many spiritual gatherings and events you will read about on these pages. These community events are special opportunities to recharge your vital energy because you are benefiting from the energy of the whole group gathered, as well as producing abundant spiritual energy yourself. The more people gather with spiritual intent, the more spiritual energy is generated to do the work of healing our world. All of these efforts are concrete steps towards making the positive changes we have all imagined at one time or another – to live in a world of peace, balance and love. It is possible and the time is now.

Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change.