What many of us seem to be neglecting is the fact that every one of these dysfunctional patterns are... of human design. It is undeniably a mirror of our selves, a collective testimony to the characteristics and quality levels of our human relationships.
Our species has created a communications system that allows us to inter-relate with each other all over the world, at any time, day or night. Computers, mobile phones, satellites, Internet, emails, faxes, etc. all designed for speed and convenience so that we can 'keep in touch', 'stay connected' and 'maintain relations'. It is by far the most technologically advanced human communications system we have ever created.
Congratulations to the human race!
However, it is hilariously ironic that our modern world would also have the most advanced levels of dysfunctional human relationships our history has ever seen. Truly, I'm gratefully surprised that we haven't made the planets' X-members list! Dysfunctionally speaking, we've got it all; prejudice and arrogant international politics, imbalances of economic and surplus opportunities, deceitful corporate actions, national and international violence, homelessness, world hunger, basic civil and human rights abuse, and the list goes on.
As well, we can see it on all relationship levels, from the individual personalities, to family environments, to social organization, to social systems, and now in the newly developing global community.
So congratulations again, we're still alive. Which brings up an interesting question, how can we be so technologically sophisticated with our communication devices and be so humanely archaic in our ability to communicate and relate constructively as a species? The technology is on, but this multileveled global system of human relationship is stacked for suicide.
None-the-less, I am not writing this article to point our attention towards our globally dysfunctional relationships. The news does this for us every day. I am writing this article to point our attention towards ourselves, individually and as members of the human species.
A social/cultural system is just that, a system, a humanly designed tool that reflects what ever fuels and influences that system.
That intangible substance is our very own concepts and emotions, our moral values and ideas that construct our belief systems.
These are things we create and architecturally design in our minds before they ever get expressed in a social system, however consciously or unconsciously we do it.
The only way any aspect of a community system evolves is by its members reflecting on the current system and then deciphering how well it's belief structure serves, supports and fits together as an associating whole. Is it constructive or destructive, functional or dysfunctional, healthy or unhealthy?
However, if we as individuals are not motivated to consciously reflect upon and contribute into the community, the new values and new ideas for this intangible structure, then clearly it cannot and will not evolve. There is a funny quark about all Life systems; if it is not expressing itself constructively, if it is not growing, it will express itself destructively. It is never in a static state.
We Are All Related, One Family.
One reason I believe we are so self-destructive is that we do not socially recognize and respect the biological fact that we are all members of the same species.
Before any society gives us an identity or belief system to live by, Nature gives us our first identity. It is given to us the moment we are born into this world, we are first a human being. Individual in form but also a member of a larger community called the human race.
This is a fact, not a philosophy or nice little thought. For whatever social evolutionary reasons, we as a species do not socially recognize and respect both aspects of our biological identity; individual and community. By us not recognizing both, we split them by denying one.
In doing so, we warp and limit available perspectives, and thus lose the opportunity for a greater awareness. When we disassociate or unequally recognize any aspects of our identity we create a dysfunctional split. One way we express this dysfunctional splitting is within our social/cultural systems, when we differentiate an 'US vs. THEM' within our species and do not balance this differentiation with a healthy or constructive 'WE' in association.
When we do this, as history has proven, we cultivate a multitude of unhealthy concepts and emotions within our belief structures; and thus we express and relate destructively as a species.
For example, we recognize that our species is physically diverse by race, but if our mental beliefs systems do not recognize a constructive biological association, then we split and conceive that we are not of equal value. Remember Hitler? He looked at our species this way.
As a result, he organized a larger community, perpetuated his warped belief structure and the rest is history. His ideas and beliefs cultivated racial arrogance, intolerance and hatred towards others, domination through fear tactics and violence, all directed at those of us he considered lower on the human value chart.
Not exactly beliefs for creating working healthy relationships. Even though he is dead, this kind of thinking and relating, these kinds of beliefs of various intensities, still exist in many of us. We create dysfunctional splits within our species all the time, every day. We use racial and physical excuses, religious excuses, cultural excuses, performance and abilities excuses, material wealth excuses, and the list goes on.
From a species point of view, it's not difficult to see that these kinds of beliefs are unhealthy physically and psychologically because
A): we are killing ourselves in a variety of ways.
B): we are fragmenting through disassociation within our own species!
The pattern is species-destructive not species-constructive. Technologically advanced does not equal socially advanced. No matter how evolved or successful we like to say we are, we still perpetuate within our personal belief structures many variations of this 'US vs. THEM' mentality that does not recognize a constructively associating 'WE'.
As we continue to define ourselves this way, we continue to gauge our self-worth and value based on comparisons to others. By what it is we give to or acquire from others, instead of looking at it and finding value in it, we need to consider what is created between us, through our relationship.
Evolve Your World view
At various points in our personal development, our ability to relate with others is supposed to evolve. Starting from egocentric (self-relating) to kin-centric (family-relating) to socio-centric (friends and social circles-relating) to national centric (citizens of a collective community-relating) and hopefully, for the first time in human history, to global centric (a species of human beings whose culture mutually respects its members with an ever widening compassionate view and an ever deepening wisdom-relating).
The point here isn't in the accuracy of these names or the simplified definitions I have given them, the point is in the direction these transcending phases suggest. As our identity develops and matures, it moves from a self-centered identity; 'everything in relation to me', towards a global centric identity; 'everything is inter-relational'.
The choice to consciously pursue this internal development is what allows us to become conscious, constructive, associating members of our human community. If we do not, we are nothing more than members that unconsciously support and perpetuate whatever current belief system we have been taught.
As we evolve in our ability to constructively relate within a community, we find greater understandings in regards to our need for quality and equality in our relationships. Each of these transcending phases brings with it new concepts that redefine our belief structures and thus our view of the world and ourselves.
Eventually, we see how ideas like mutual and self-respect, appreciation, compassion, rational and emotional empathy, forgiveness for ignorance, equality of awareness, etc.... must come into fruition and function in a global human culture, impartially, for all. Assuming this is the direction we still want to move in, of course. Historically, we seem to find greater freedoms in what we call healthy associations because it is a form of constructive unification.
In our early days as a species, we were nothing more than a multitude of small disassociating tribes trying to survive in, and off of bountiful Nature. As we evolved, we have sporadically caught on to the evolutionary pattern that our survival in Nature, and as a species, is proportional with our ability to constructively associate as a species.
At no point in human history has there been the opportunity to create a global social/culture system until now. A system large enough to see and recognize all human beings as equally valuable members of its community. Equally valuable members not because we were all created physically or mentally equal. But because we are all equally human.
No one is more or less human than the next, no matter how diverse we are in our social/cultural heritage. The fact is, we are an associating species no matter how many judgmental differences we want to see in ourselves, we're just self-destructive in how we associate.
Together With The PeopleWe now recognize that through self-expression, self-examination and self-evolution in relationship with our social/cultural systems, we internally and externally transform. So how do we get six billion plus members of our species to stop being unconsciously destructive through developing our abilities to relate more consciously constructive?
Well, first we point out the need to do so and why. From there, I can only suggest that as we emotionally, intellectually, morally and spiritually examine the quality levels of our personal belief systems, we communicate and discuss, (or how ever you like to self-express) where we're at, what we see and what we consider 'healthier' ideas and values amongst our community. Keep in mind that not everyone thinks, believes, interprets and communicates in the same manner.
So as we share our ideas with each other, please consider a commitment to communicating with the following three basic principles:
One is tolerance; this does not mean turn the other cheek or take it on the chin. It means that no matter what psychological and emotional difficulties we may be experiencing in our relationships we never personally chose to break relations or to disassociate with other human beings. Doing so fragments ourselves as a species, so never give up on each other.
Two is always seek to improve relationships. Improve your own abilities to relate and communicate. Do it by first consciously evaluating the healthiness of your own ideas, beliefs and emotional motivations. Improve your ability to understand and diplomatically explain the how's and why's of your belief system.
Three is by far the most challenging principle to commit too. It is the unyielding intention to disarm and defuse all forms of conflict amongst ourselves. This means we never accept the suggestion to aggressively attack others, emotionally, psychologically, or physically.
I realize that exercising these three principles with those of us who only know conflict is not easy... until we individually develop them and understand how they work together. None-the-less, no one gives us these abilities. We must educate and train ourselves, this is how knowledge and skill becomes available to us. Either way, the fact remains, if we do not learn how to do this within ourselves and with others in our species, we can kiss our species' ass good-bye, because our self-destructive denial will be the gateway to our extinction.
But, if we can see that these three principles functionally fit, and we give them life by living them in relationships, we contribute these ideas into the social/cultural system of our human community, evolving in our ability to relate as a species.
There is no doubt about how dysfunctional and destructive we currently are to ourselves and the planet as a species, and thus as individuals. So if it turns out that we end up committing species suicide, it certainly can't be said that we didn't have another choice.
- Illustrations by Lee Cox