I think that one of the major weaknesses of society is the emphasis on me.
- We are told to look after number one.
- We are told that the most important person is me
- We are told that you have to look after yourself first
- We are told that the most important discovery that we will make is about ourselves.
Of course there are elements of truth in all of the above list. We do need to have a certain level of self care. We cannot ignore some of our basic needs. But any system of self help must include the question how do I find my place among others.
Humans are social beings. We live in societies, we work in teams, we have families, we join groups. These are all important parts of being human. We cannot find ourselves until we are able to deal with the realities of living in a community.
One of the fundamental weaknesses of democracy is its insistence on the rights of the individual. This is because to a large extent we have failed to discover a common set of values that can bind us together as a community. We see the effects of the breakdown in community all around us. Broken families, depression, anxiety, stress, physical distress are all evidence of a breakdown in our wellbeing.
But the real outcome of this is that people become lost. When we no longer are able to function in community or find a community that we can function in and so we lose our way.
I have worked with people for a long time and over and over the story I hear is one of people trying to discover their place in the world. They ask the question, from where do I get meaning? And as much as self help can be an aid in that journey its not the destination.
Any journey of self discovery must take you to a place where you are able to meet with others. A place where people know your name, where you are valued because of who you are and not what you produce, where you begin to see yourself clearly through the eyes of others. It is only when we begin to realise the impact that we have on others that we can begin to change. If we only ever look at ourselves we will lack the impetus to make life altering changes in our own lives.