Monday, August 19, 2013

Therapy for Our Times

Mary Pipher, who has written several highly recognized works on issues of our mental and social health - Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls,
 Hunger Pains

Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of Our Elders,
Hunger Pains

The Shelter of Each Other

 Hunger Pains

 has just written The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

 Hunger Pains
in which she chronicles what she has learned from her own involvement in responding to efforts in her Nebraska community around the impending Keystone Pipeline.

In it she shares her own struggles as well as those she came to know through her involvement in efforts to stop the pipeline from coming through their land. In it she turns her trained eye towards our own moral development as individuals and as a society. Concerned with how we are treating our planetary home, she offers that

     We are not behaving this way because we are cruel but rather because we are caught up in the Great Acceleration and having a hard time slowing ourselves down and thinking things through. We are living in fragmented ways, disconnected from not only each other and the natural world, but from our pasts and our futures.

     Our interconnected problems are, at their roots, relationship problems. At core, every relationship has the potential to be profoundly emotional. For example, some people have a deeply emotional relationship with a particular brand of scotch. Others have this kind of relationship with their personal library. Most of us have intense relationships with our pets.

     When we speak of relationships, we are talking about attachment. With attachment comes its opposite: disconnection. And with connection and disconnection come the possibility of love, anger, fear, joy, and yearning. So our real questions as humans are: what is it we are attached to, why have we selected the attachments we have, and how intensely are we attached to particular relationships? Sorting this out is a lifelong, personal challenge -- and for our planet to survive intact, we must make answering these questions a global challenge, too.

Pipher focuses on the role of balance that merges her therapist background with her own understanding of how we fit together and how we must find this sense of relationship with each other and the other beings we share this planet with. It is hopeful, soothing, energizing but not awash in optimism. It might be a good tonic for any of us struggling to find how we can face the global challenges before us and our grandchildren and live a fulfilling life. That should be an imperative for all of us. It is an easy and comfortable read. Like having your own therapist on call....