I’m not going to start this book off listing all the problems that prove the world is falling apart. You can make your own list. But let’s just agree that there’s a list. And there’s plenty on it. If we got together with our notepads, we could get ourselves good and depressed pretty darn quick. And it would feel like the magnitude of the combined problems are overwhelming. For any one person or even a well designed group of smart, rich, and powerful people, they are overwhelming. I propose that any traditional approach to solving problems will just result in more and increasingly complicated problems. History proves it. If we focus our energy on problems, they get bigger.
This book is about how regular, individual people, without an external force like a boss, mayor, pastor, or president directing them, can collectively (re)generate a healthy group, community, culture, ecosystem, and planet. I am absolutely positive it can be done simply and without endlessly analyzing all the problems and figuring out how to solve them one by one. And I’m not proposing a new idea. There is no new technology needed. No complicated budgets or spending required. No local, state, or federal policies need to be in place before we can start. No restructuring of organizations or institutions. These things may come as a result but they will never be the cause.
I know that most, if not all of us have been the recipient of some sort of relational trauma, I want to acknowledge that it’s painful. Really, really painful. And it can be long lasting or permanently impacting. I’ve never been abused in the classic sense of being hit or physically wounded by someone who was supposed to care for me. I suppose if you count that little best friend brawl in high school, but that left no lasting wound. But I have loved as deeply as I’m capable of loving and felt betrayed and alone. I’ve felt maligned and rejected when I expected to be understood and intimately accepted. I can still recall the pain of that and how it tore at my guts, my mind, and my soul in the most persistent, unavoidable, and hope crushing way I couldn’t have previously imagined. Perhaps one of the greatest pains we are capable of experiencing is the kind that comes from other humans.
I’ve been giving this idea a lot of thought. You know, watching youtube videos, reading books, and piecing together different chunks of content from the last 53 years. Eventually, I got serious enough to get myself a degree in community psychology. If you’ve never heard of that - it’s a real thing, I promise. As a result of both serious scientific research and a formidable pile of anecdotal evidence, I have become suspicious that it makes sense to say there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not broken, I’m just lonely, and lonely is a common malady that can be more of a blinking indicator light than the clatter and grind of broken parts. But hear me out. If I’m right, it means there’s nothing wrong with you either. Other than your own loneliness.
I write about belonging, storytelling, community building, prevention, trauma, resilience, neuroscience, and epigenetics.