GLOBAL TRAUMA : CONTEMPORARY ISSUES

The real battle in the world today is not among civilizations or cultures but among the different evolutionary futures that are possible for us and our species right now…

( C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U: Leading From the Future as it Emerges )

Every once in a while I Google myself to see what information is available on the web about my books ,blogs, conference presentations, seminars about trauma, and social and global trauma in particular. These internet searchs sometimes produce some unexpected results. In The Netherlands for example, I am referred to as “ The Grand Old Dame of Social Trauma Work” ( I hope this sounds better in Dutch). And just recently I came up with an item on a Norwegian web site, that Peter Levine and I wrote as part of a series of columns we did for The Redstone Review when we were living in Colorado: (http:www.hellinger.no/index.php?site=default/717/754/757 ) Our monthly column was entitled “ Contemporary Issues and Their Effects of Social Trauma” and from that collection “Asteroid Threat” appeared on the Norwegian site. This piece was written before 9/11 and after Chernobyl but the true extent of that nuclear disaster was not yet established. At that time, as we approached the millennium, there was some media attention devoted to a growing awareness of our planet’s vulnerability to the consequences of a comet or asteroid collision. While these outer space objects are still a threat, a more immediate source for an extinction level event is now present in the triple meltdowns and ongoing radiation emitted from six damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Complex. Now in 2012, threats falling from the sky have more to do with radiation in the Jetstream than asteroids or comet collisions. Nevertheless, in re-reading this decade- old column I realized that my views concerning any number of massive global trauma events have remained somewhat consistent. In response to the question: How to orient toward the possibility of an extinction level event, I would again offer the following:

Violence and destruction are integral to the nature of the Universe, present at every level of existence, elemental, geological, organic and human. For those of us who have encountered the violent side of human nature, it seems important to develop a perspective on the forces of change that are larger than good and evil or ‘us and them’. While we humans do seem to have some control over our lives, we can also seem to be powerless beings subject to an unfamiliar order….

While the majority of global trauma is taking place on a scale vastly beyond human awareness, we can still find some reassurance in the notion that the forces of life seem to be more than equal to the forces of destruction. Those whose lives have included encounters with forces of darkness and destruction may find some solace in compassion for what might be called ‘impermanence’ as well as compassion for all passing things. Realizing that we exist in a difficult time of perceivable loss and gain has the potential to open our imagination, beyond this moment ,to travel to the realms of a much larger story.

( Anngwyn St. Just and Peter Levine, 1999)

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