SNS Press: Seeking New Solutions

February, 2010
Vol. 9, Number 2


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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.

Featured Articles about Responsibility, the Future and Consciousness:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Conflict, Harmony and Integrity
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-violent Political Change
Living Without an Enemy
Protecting Children: Words and Deeds





This Month's Article

Earthquakes and Other Awakenings

The amazing response of donations and goodwill to the Earthquake in Haiti is another witness to the measure of evolving human and global awareness. As people saw the destruction and suffering, they realized that in the scale of pain, many of their own problems were minor. Giving is an affirmation of feeling secure, and an expression of gratitude. People who fear or who are not grateful for what they have, have difficulty being compassionate. An event such as this earthquake serves as a reminder of what is essential in life and makes one take inventory of one’s blessings.

Many aftershocks of the earthquake manifested in many parts of the world as psychological reassessments. People started reflecting on their lives, their work, and their relationships. In the wake of a natural upheaval people seem more willing to make decisive changes in their life. They gain new perspectives. The Haitian earthquake was a great catalyst for human awakening. It will take some time to see the results, and many people will slip back into the dormancy of old habits. Nevertheless, many of us saw in our friends’ lives or in our communities a shakeup that previewed a coming change. As people and society evolve psychologically and spiritually, great shocks serve as stimulants and benchmarks of our growth. They are like illnesses that are wake-up calls for change.

Human-made disasters that have thrown so many people into the never-land of homelessness or refugee camps do not shock as nature’s disasters do. How come humanity seems to have a greater stomach and a harder heart when faced with suffering caused by human cruelty? Somehow we rationalize human cruelty and observe the human condition as an on-going morality play without drama. Even in the Haitian disaster some religious leaders such as Pat Robertson said that the people of Haiti got what they deserved because they had made “a pact with the devil.”

Such statements demonstrate the frozen hearts and minds of people whose lives are still plagued by “the devil.” Contrast that with the spontaneous and unconditional outpouring of generosity after the earthquake. Seven-year-old Charlie Simpson in England was so troubled by the suffering he saw on television that he decided to raise money by getting pledges to ride his bicycle around the neighborhood park. His mum put his goal of five-hundred pounds on the internet, and in response he raised more than 100,000 pounds ($160,000) and attracted the attention of the Prime Minister! What was it that Christ said about children and the "Kingdom of Heaven?"

The words of Robertson and others like him cast a dark, cynical shadow on the fact of human goodness. It is really insulting to people to be characterized by so-called “religious leaders” whose world view is that people are basically sinners. Their statements cause me to reflect on the “hell” created by French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre in his play, Huis-clos (No Exit). His “hell” was built of walls in people’s minds by their guilt, fears, hatred, and remorse – a room without windows or mirrors, only a single door. Their “torturers” were their prejudices, ignorance and selfishness. Existentially, people like Robertson must be living in that hell!

True that we “feel good” when we help others, but is that a selfish feeling? Researchers in psychology, history, anthropology, theology, and biology are concluding that the automatic, altruistic and often heroic response to the suffering of others is an intrinsic quality of our humanness. The urge to help others is programmed in our genes and our glands because throughout ages it has helped society survive. Spiritual teachers would say it is an expression of the God within us. Sometimes it takes the impersonal disasters of nature to release our suppressed goodness and destroy the walls of our self-made “hells.” Suddenly in the flood of our compassion and goodwill we wash away some of the constraints that prevent our good angels from expressing themselves.

Even if our “awakening” is only momentary, it serves as a reminder of the parallel universe of good that co-exists with suffering humanity. It gives us psychological distance from our personal pains and conflicts, and for some, releases the courage and conviction to make changes. In a sudden shock, we see that life is fragile and that perhaps we have become absorbed in unreal and futile battles with ourselves and others. We see that life and our time to live it to the fullest could be limited, so we do not want to waste it in our self-made hell.

In our time of awakening we may experience pain of separation and loss, but symbolically speaking, it is the severing of the umbilical cord that binds us to our past. People individually and collectively need to cyclically release themselves in order to evolve psychologically and spiritually. It is through great shocks, on a personal or global level that we gain the opportunity to take our next step. Destruction is painful, but rebuilding is creative, gives hope and demonstrates the qualities of which we are made.

© 2010 Richard V. Sidy

Read Related Articles on SNS Press


Parallel Universes

Are We Done Learning From Pain?

How Much Pain Can We Stand?

Malice or Neglect?

Standing up for Humanity


Read Related Poems

Matter of Scale

Wake of Disaster

Making Friends

Mama’s Tears


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Archives Column Menu
archives archives archives
Archives 2002:
Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003:
Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life
Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004:
Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All

Archives 2005:
Vol. 4, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Standing up for Humanity
Unity in Diversity
Thought and Imagination
Imagination and Healing
Lessons of Katrina
Intelligent Design or Evolution

Archives 2006:
Vol. 5, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-Violent Political Change
Sustainable Development
Legalizing Torture
Living Without an Enemy
"Fast Food" is really "Slow Food"
Archives 2007:
Vol. 6, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
State of Fear
Criminal Justice
Culture Shock
Personal Ecology
Exploring the Mind - Parts 1 and 2
How Much Pain Can We Stand?
Archives 2008:
Vol. 7, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Beyond Ideology
The Imaginary Economy
Tribalism and the 2008 Election
Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice
Have We Been Willing Slaves?
Are We Ready for the Future?
Archives 2009:
Vol. 8, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
The Good New Days
The Time is Right
The New Anarchy
The Art of Living
Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?
From Cowboys to Cowed
Who are the Real Game Changers?
Archives 2010:
Vol. 9, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
The Music of Place
Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
The Sense of Place
Why do People Serve?
Ecological Literacy
Organization or Organism?
Are we afraid of our Better Angels?
Choosing our Battles

Meeting the Need
Diplomacy Help for Teens Science and Religion Poetry Archives
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