The Biggest Dysfunctional Family

by rthieme on September 11, 1998

The earth is one huge dysfunctional family and now and then it just has to act out.

Most of the time, our species more or less manages. Yes, there are excesses, but the lack of immediate feedback lets them persist. We keep sweeping dirt under the carpet and walking uphill.

Humanity lives inside a great luminous bubble that floats above the biosphere like an immense balloon. A head detached from its body. When the body wants the head to listen, however, it finds a way to get its attention.

Our global economy is a patchwork of cultures in which economic behaviors are deeply embedded, but we wanted to believe we were one happy family frolicking in a free market.  Frightened governments rush to wall off their economies and currencies like the Taliban banning televisions, fleeing denial for deeper denial, searching for the right cave in which to hole up.

And we haven’t even mentioned Y2K.

Good news and bad news. A single political economy will win in the long run, but only after we deal with the truth of who we are. That can take a while. And that truth feels at first like the pain of abrasion instead of the truth that sets us free.

The earth needs a good therapist, but who could work with such a huge group? Maybe a 12-step meeting on the Internet is better. Acknowledge our mutual complicity in the inability to think more than ten minutes ahead, then use that moment of redemption and communion as leverage, bootstrapping ourselves to the next level.

None of us is all of it. All of us are part of it. Humility, in short, is a better fuel than greed or fear. Humility, derived from “humus,” earth, in which we had better be rooted when the winter winds begin to blow.

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