"Whether...a change from the supremacy of natural science to a new social science will take place...depends on one factor: how many brilliant, learned, disciplined, and caring men and women are attracted by the new challenge...."
-- Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be, 1976, p.161
-- S T R E S S --
Let's approach the question of the new society from the standpoint of what is likely the most severe and overwhelming problem of our time: physical, psychological, and emotional stress.
Think about the last time you felt truly and deeply relaxed, in body and mind. So relaxed, in fact, that you felt or perceived no difference between the two; you were simply a whole you, one big ball of deeply relaxed human being. Perhaps it came about after you took a long, hot, relaxing shower, soak in the tub, or if you're lucky enough, sauna. Perhaps it came about after an especially effective and relaxing meditation session. Perhaps it came about after you sat very quiet and still, perhaps meditatively on a bluff, mountaintop, or other natural environment.
Unlike your usual physio-emotional condition, in your state of deep relaxation and calm, and peace your heart is beating so slowly and quietly you can't even tell it's there. There's no hint of headache or in fact any muscular discomfit; your body is light and airy and everything in and around you is stillness, calm, deep ease.
Now, think about what is likely to disturb this beatific condition. About what will rouse your body, mind, and spirit from this state of deep and uncommon serenity. About what will finally begin to nudge your body, perhaps ever so slowly or slightly, back into a state of tension, even if only barely perceptible.
What will do it? What will the cause likely be?
We all know what will do it, don't we? It will likely be the action, whether word, deed, or both, of another human being, husband, wife, child, parent, neighbor, or stranger. Their action may appear as their own, perhaps another driver pulling ahead of you unexpectedly as you leave the parking lot, or in proxy for another human being or institution, as your boss informing you that you'll have to work late tonight.
Continuing, if you scratch the surface of any of these actions of other human beings, you'll find they find one of two, or both roots: inability to concern themselves with your welfare, because they're simply following the economic orders they've been given or know they must follow (e.g., your boss instructing you to work late), or unwillingness to concern themselves with your welfare, apart from any economic pressure they are feeling (e.g., the driver cutting you off in the parking lot).
In the first example, then, the root cause is capitalism in its normal operation, and in the second, narcissism, which upon scrutiny might reveal its own root as capitalism, as well. What kinds of pressures is that discourteous driver under? Pressure to get home to prepare for work tomorrow? To get to the store to buy the toys his children have been hounding him for that they saw advertised ad nauseum on television? To buy his wife a present to try to persuade her that he really loves her? If a contractor or other independent businessman, to get to a job? You get the idea. In all cases, your deep state of serenity, peace, and well-being will likely be interrupted or otherwise compromised by the actions of another human being; actions that are caused directly by a dog-eat-dog, law-of-the-jungle economic system that has come to produce stress as its principal domestic export, or indirectly by the actions of other human beings whose behavior is clearly and obviously rooted in the callousness, insensitivity, and self-interest, or narcissism, manufactured by the ton as a by-product, more properly the detritus, of that same system.
The net product and result? Wave upon wave of continuing physical and emotional stress for most of us that is virtually inescapable, with the attendant pernicious deterioration of health, helped along by our misguided though predictable and comprehensible attempts to cope, through misuse of food and drink, alcohol, cigarettes, narcotics, television, sex, violence to others or ourselves, generalized aggression, or any one of a thousand-and-one other misplaced and ultimately ineffective diverting activities.
The simple evolutionary fact is that our species has evolved to negotiate and process short bursts of stress, not sustained periods, and the attempt to do so is unquestionably destroying our peace of mind and health (assuming that any of us have ever known meaningful health or peace-of mind). Meditation, relaxing showers, hot soaks in the tub, steamy saunas, communing with nature, and release through physical activity such as sex or sport is fine as far as they go, which isn't that far. The only long-term solution, however, is to work together to build a society based on love and cooperation, a society that will not produce pathological kinds and levels of stress in the first place. Imagine what life would be like if that state of deep relaxation was with you almost all the time. And if, even during your moments of stress, they were less severe, far less frequent, and occurred in combination with the love and support of all those around you, including family, friend, and "stranger."
Groups such as Project For a Cooperative Society have already begun the effort; all that is required is for you to join in. Please involve yourself as much as you can, whether by the preferred step of joining PCS, or otherwise actively supporting our effort. Let's build the world today, that we will give to our children and ourselves, tomorrow.
~ Advocating Economic & Personal Change ~
- Project For a Cooperative Society -