When the U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, was asked what the biggest disease in America was, he stated: “It’s not cancer, it’s not heart disease, it is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.”1 Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist with The New York Times, stated: “How ironic, we are the most technologically connected generation in human history, and yet more people feel more isolated than ever. The connections that matter most and that are most in short supply today are the human-to-human ones.”
I want to offer some thoughts and some hope about a process I think we are all undergoing. On the one hand, we see disruption all around us. Unsustainable systems are collapsing, resulting in an acceleration of the breakdown of our community, social, economic and political infrastructure; which, for some, leads to a fear-based amplification of prejudice and fear and a clinging to isolation and silo or wall-building.
On the other hand, however, increasingly people feel a deep sense of purpose that is activating our greatest gifts. We sense that something new, hopeful and empowering is in the process of emerging. Apparently, we need to burn through some darkness before we collectively see the light. The light is a palpable shift toward reaching for human connection; toward opening our hearts and our minds and intentionally focusing on the positive future that wants to emerge. We engage our curiosity, compassion, and courage and reconnect with our shared humanity. People are stepping up, sharing their vulnerability and wisdom and embodying a renewed sense of empowered, cooperative leadership. This is the elevation of our shared humanity.
We are increasingly engaged and experiencing profound social and personal transformation. We are realizing our essential nature and reaching for human connection within and beyond ourselves and realizing that there is nothing to fight against. We are directly engaging in co-innovating and evolving to a more just humanity and a more sustainable democracy.
Moving from the 40,000 foot perspective to an on-the-ground, personal perspective, what does this mean?
Human beings have been making war for a long time in many cultures, meaning in many minds, because the culture is a reflection of the mind. It is noteworthy to state here that there is clear and compelling historical evidence that when matrifocal societies dominated the planet there was no evidence of war. However, in our current patrifocal societies, there is no escaping the damage of war — whether we are aware of the damage or not.
I am coming to a clearer understanding that when I am not at peace in my own mind, I am waging an internal war and that war is projected onto others whether I am aware of broadcasting this or not.
The war in my head (judgment, wall building) can be framed around a variety of battles — it can be framed around the ancient and false belief that I am not good enough or smart enough, or if that other person would do something correctly or if this condition or that condition were met then all would be worked out and peaceful. I have constructed a story that tints the lens through which I see myself, others, our relationships, and the world.
If I remain unaware of how I have tinted the lens, and I remain stuck in the fear-based story, the conditions for peace will not be met. Peace is revealed in the absence of war — in the absence of isolation, fear, the illusion of separation and judgments.
If we look more deeply, we can see that the source of this war comes from the belief that we are some thing that is separate from others. This lesson that we are taught from an early age, this sense of separation and human disconnection, is so pervasive and integrated into the threads of our culture that it makes it hard to see. This experience of human disconnection, a separation of self from self and self from others, is a fundamental concept in both trauma-informed practice and in Emotional CPR (eCPR). The impact of trauma and human disconnection played out in my own early childhood, for example, by my experiencing such a profound lack of safety that it resulted in my clinging to anyone who offered safety and anything that could numb the pain.
Another result of the belief that we are some thing and this thing is separate from each other is that we get focused on protecting this thing. Whatever the thing is — our territory, our home, our family — we protect it and hold onto fear, anger and revenge, and we wait for someone else to do something differently so that we think we can find peace.
Our tinted lens reinforces the idea that that other person is different — separate from me. And this separation perpetuates conflict and war. It perpetuates the war in my head which perpetuates the war I wage with others. Inner war creates global war.
When I am practicing eCPR or genuine human connecting I am looking not from the lens of ego but from a deeper level. Meaning, I am not judging nor labeling but rather seeing the reality (under the illusion) which is that there is nothing to protect. I focus on perceiving the other person in their full humanity. The distress the person is expressing is a particular patterned way that this person’s internal war has escalated. As a supporter or listener I focus on being with them on a genuine level and assisting them in finding what is true or genuine about themselves — meaning what is deeper than the social mask they have identified as being them but is not the genuine them; it is the learned them, the ego.
I do this by seeing the genuine person underneath her lens, underneath the social conditioning, underneath her story. And when we do this we are perceiving or ‘being’ underneath our own lens. From this place, where peace is revealed in the deep connection of two people, I mirror back the best I see in her, my great hope for her, my belief in her, my knowing that together, in this moment, we will move through this.
For more on this process, see: “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges.”
We are born and innately wired for human connection. It is a simple process but often it is not easy. If you focus and put your intention on it you will re-find it; it will emerge. Here is a beautifully simple example of a stranger successfully reaching for another person: “When Train Riders Moved Away From Passenger, This Woman Held His Hand.”
I end with two simple and eloquent quotes from Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and “The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.”