A Difficult But Necessary Adaptation

Last night in the program I offer called The Healer Within, we were working with a principle of health and healing I refer to as “Breaking from a sick herd.” In preparing for class, it occurred to me this is likely the first time in our specie’s history that in a very large scale way, we must go against our own neurological wiring that pulls, even demands on a survival level, that we stay in connection with one another. That we look to one another for our cues around what to want and how to live. No matter how sick those cues might be.

But here we are. Living in a world that has made what is sick and distorted the norm. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes has a phrase for this: Normalizing the abnormal. But it is not normal that one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer. It is not normal that so many of our young people are killing themselves or that our biggest upcoming health crisis according to the WHO will be depression and anxiety. It is not normal that we sit together in front of screens watching violence, gore and profane sexuality.

And it is most certainly not normal that we are passing this all along to our children: Giving them the message that this is as good as life gets.

We want to be together. We need to be together. It does not feel safe emotionally, psychologically or physically to imagine ourselves not within the protection of the families we grew up with and the groups we associate with now. But as much as we want to belong, what happens when these groups are sick? What happens when the larger culture has been created in such a way that we are directed towards what harms us?

Whether it’s all the ads that would have us believe that buying stuff is our highest contribution in life. Or the endless amounts of foods laden with chemicals (and now mRNA technologies) that we are forced to consume. Or the constant push to medicate ourselves recreationally or pharmaceutically against the modern day self-created illnesses and the malaise of living an empty existence.

I know well, from growing up in alcoholism, what it does to mind, body and spirit to be embedded in a sick herd. All of my attempts to stay connected to them came at great personal cost in terms of health, self-esteem and the call of my own soul. It took years to break from the sickness, the fall out was great, and I am still working on it.

But what I know to be true is this: Never should even one of us ever negotiate away the preciousness of our own life to stay in connection with another. Never should we trade our own health and possibility for the false promise of any of this being as good as it gets.