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  • Writer's pictureDawn Wray

A dilemma

I read the article in the link (below) this week, and the letter speaks to a dilemma I am wrestling with:

How do we balance the benefits of living more in tune with nature and in community and the health benefits associated with the current lived experience of so many?

The letter is written to Amazonian leaders by Nemonte Nenquimo. She is cofounder of the Indigenous-led non-profit organisation Ceibo Alliance, the first female president of the Waorani organisation of Pastaza province and one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world, and she passionately says “the white man… knows too little for the power that he wields, and the damage that he causes”

I agree with the view that the interconnectedness of the natural and animal world is being lost in our pursuit of individualism and consumption, particularly in the western world. We are part of the world, and we are losing our mind, and body and spirit sense of ourselves in it. We are losing our connectedness with our own bodies. This includes the connectedness we have with each other, as well as nature. Covid-19 is bringing into sharp focus for many: enforced distancing from loved ones and friends, mask wearing, and lack of social contact pull us further away from each other. I read an essay recently in a book edited by Michael Craig Clemmens,by Deborah Ullman and Lucien Demaris, called ‘Nature Heals’, it says “correlations are strong, or stronger between health and social connectedness as between ill health and established biomedical risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity” (Clemmens: Embodied Relational Gestalt: theory and applications).

As a relational gestalt therapist, I whole heartedly agree that we are not separate; from our bodies, from each other, from the oceans or the animals, but part of them, as they are part of us. I believe that being in contact with our whole world is therapeutic and healing, and I am pleased that as I write this, I am listening to Radio 6 and their post clocks back ‘slow Sunday’ where they are saying the same thing.

My dilemma is that I also work in a large profit-making organisation, as do many people, and I don’t want this way of thinking about the world to be mutually exclusive from that. I live in a western capitalist system and the ability to live ‘with nature’ and in an embodied way so often comes across in literature as a privilege of people with the luxury to afford it. There has never been such a cruel paradox.

And that leaves me with challenges and questions. How do we change our organisations, or how the people in them operate? How feasible is it that ALL of us could live a sustainable life at one with nature and the world? How as a society do, we begin to unpick the unhealthy ways that poverty, and culture force us to live like this? These are huge questions.

I consider myself lucky. I am training to be a psychotherapist. I also work in a large organisation, and I can do my small part in bringing these worlds together. I am passionate that organisations can benefit from these views. But I am still wrestling the dilemma, how do we, do might I change the world bit by bit so that people thrive, and the world thrives.

I had never heard of Nemonte Nenquimo until this week. But I am optimistic that she is such an influential force. She says “You forced your civilisation upon us and now look where we are: global pandemic, climate crisis, species extinction and, driving it all, widespread spiritual poverty”

The final paragraph of her letter speaks for itself:

“It is the early morning in the Amazon, just before first light: a time that is meant for us to share our dreams, our most potent thoughts. And so, I say to all of you: The Earth does not expect you to save her, she expects you to respect her. And we, as Indigenous peoples, expect the same”

As someone who is part of western civilisation, and someone who believes that spiritual wealth is important I am left pondering how I, how we, can begin to address this dilemma.

The original article is here:

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