Sometimes it is too easy to think that the modern world we live in, and our own spiritual quests, are not entirely connected. Far too easy. Our personal inner lives can seemingly exist in what might almost be a parallel universe to the social, economic and political world outside. But we would be wrong to think that. Everything IS connected. Richard Dell makes exactly that point in his HEALING NATIONS:
‘That’s right,’ says Sandy. ‘Of course, most elections we vote. But it’s all a nonsense really. Sometimes I can’t believe what our taxes actually go on. And have you tried commuting into the centre of London? We do it every working day. I’ll tell you this: animals being exported to Europe are given better conditions than we are. And don’t talk to me about the health service.’
Of course, we are all into personal transformation. For example, Mike and Sandy’s neighbours, John and Kate, have quite a different agenda, because it is transformation of the soul that interests them. These two are very spiritual people. They visit holy sites, they insist on being vegetarian, and they meditate every day.
And what do they say about working towards social and political transformation?
‘It’s a nice dream,’ sighs Kate. ‘And we believe that if enough people try to transform themselves spiritually, then great changes will occur socially. But to try to do it directly, well…’ She gets up from her yoga position and looks across at John.
‘Exactly,’ says John. ‘You haven’t a chance of changing things politically. The only thing we can change is ourselves. For goodness sake, we’re living in a world despoiled of community. It’s almost totally depleted of its spiritual resources.’
‘And it’s in thrall to materialism,’ exclaims Kate.
‘And the cold logic of the machine,’ concludes John. ‘We haven’t got a hope of changing that.’
‘John’s right,’ says Kate. ‘That’s why we follow our own path. It’s the only part of our world we have real control over.’
What John and Kate say is true. And, of course, we are all at it. We are all on our own journeys: whether they are journeys of spiritual transformation, or journeys that seek to transform our home furnishings. Because the world is beyond our ability to influence, we seek our own agendas. Either we have entered into communion with our inner selves, as have Kate and John; or we have entered into communion with the contents of online shopping sites. In fact, we have all been creating transformations of our mind and spirit; or we have been creating transformations of our leisure time and possessions. But for a long time now, we have not attempted to transform our institutions, political practices and cultures.
But here is a key question: can we actually hope to be successful in our personal journeys when we pay no heed to the landscape in which we travel?
The poem ‘FASTER, BIGGER, BETTER’ is primarily concerned with the environment we have made for ourselves and inflicted on our planet. But we have inflicted it upon ourselves as well: on our social, communal and material lives, and also on our spiritual lives. As ‘HEALING NATIONS says: can we actually hope to be successful in our personal journeys when we pay no heed to the landscape in which we travel?