Friday, January 02, 2009

Tikkun - Memos to Obama (John Welwood)

Tikkun, the socially and spiritually progressive Jewish magazine (led by Rabbi Lerner), has collected some "Memos to Obama" from prominent people, each of which expresses their hope in the Obama administration to make some changes in our culture [it's never that simple, but you get the idea].

There are many good memos, and many of the authors are not Jewish, but they are all spiritually progressive - including this one from John Welwood.
John Welwood on Healthy Relatedness

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, John Welwood, on our need for healing.

In a time when politician has become a dirty word, the American people are starving for real leadership—which recognizes and responds to their deepest longings for a sane and healthy society. Our culture is seriously out of balance, as evidenced by widespread unhappiness and record levels of depression and stress. To set America on the right track, we will need not only your wise policies and proposals, but also your capacity to keep an eye on the bigger picture: America is in deep need of healing. Even if all our economic and political problems were solved overnight, this nation would still face the real challenge of becoming a sane and healthy society that furthers genuine well-being in its people.

A sane society is based on healthy relatedness. What currently ails America is a pervasive sense of disconnection—from the earth, from wholesome human community, from a way of life that promotes well-being, and from a balanced wisdom that nourishes the soul. All the pressing problems in the world—destruction of the earth’s natural balance, toxic pollution leading to intractable diseases like cancer, the decline of civility and culture, widespread extinction of species, war, poverty, economic chaos—are signs of our disconnectedness, caused by the reigning mentality of violence, domination, and greedy self-advancement at the expense of the larger whole. We need a new politics based on love and wisdom, one which cares for the web of life and works toward repairing the sacred, broken bonds of interrelatedness that keep us all healthy and sane.

You can help nurture healthy relatedness in many different ways. Insist that our education system teach children not just technical skills and book knowledge, but also social and emotional learning: how to stay inwardly balanced, to recognize their basic goodness, and to communicate honestly and empathically with others. Promote a society that willingly cares for those in need of help, and cut the bloated defense budget to finance that. Instead of creating enemies through branding other nations as evil, your foreign policy can be more compassionate and inclusive, honoring all of the earth’s peoples as part of one human family. As Martin Luther King Jr. argued, the foundation for world peace can only be love. A “war on terror” is an oxymoron, because it’s impossible to eliminate terror through war, which only breeds more terror. By toning down the rhetoric of war and promoting friendship, caring, and understanding abroad, you can disarm terrorists by depriving them of reasons to attack us.

Most critical of all is our fractured relationship with the earth and the web of life that supports the presence of humanity on this planet. Use your persuasive leadership skills to help people recognize that caring for the earth, water, sky, plants, and animals—and preserving large, intact ecosystems—is not a parochial environmentalism promoted by special interests, but the essential basis of health and well-being for all. Through both policies and persuasion, show people how caring for the earth can transform business and help create new jobs. Your voice can be a powerful force that helps enshrine care for the earth in public policy and instill it in the hearts of the people. All other issues, no matter how essential, pale in importance if the earth can no longer support human life, and homo sapiens joins the growing list of endangered species.

Creating a caring society that nurtures and honors healthy interrelatedness on all levels is not a luxury issue but supremely pragmatic, for our collective survival now depends on it. If your actions promote the healing we need, you will garner support from many quarters, both visible and invisible. And people will be inspired to join with you out of love—even many who may not agree with all your policies.

Finally, it’s important to embody well-being yourself. Please take time to nurture your family, care for your health, and tend to the needs of your spirit and soul as you tackle the tremendous challenges that lie ahead. May the healing begin.

Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Dr. John Welwood specializes in integrating Eastern spiritual wisdom and Western psychology. His latest book is Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart.
Go read the other memos.


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