Monday, April 27, 2009

Seeking An Internal Life

The world we live in has become very external. People's appearance, possessions, wealth, prestige, fame and power seem to be the primary motivator in their existence. What happened to looking within? The irony is that because of our wealth and because of modern technology we finally have the luxury-at least in industrialized nations in the West-to have time to be more introspective. Unfortunately, it seems we have lost our internal balance and therefore endangered our collective well being. The initial unrest and rebellion that began in the 60's championing individual rights at the expense of the greater good was really an outgrowth of people lacking a fulfilling inner life and trying to find it in all the wrong places-drugs, unrestricted sex, violence-undoing anything that was deemed worthwhile to adults The 70's may have been even more damaging than the 60's as that was when rebellion became more institutionalized, meaning that basic definitions of appropriate behavior or even the basic building blocks of our society were mocked and became more pervasive throughout society rather than being restricted to a small group. Marriage was undermined by changes in divorce law, definitions of femininity and masculinity were confused(androgyny was heralded as the ideal), standards for mental health were radically altered, patriotism went underground, primary institutions that were the foundation of safety and morality were undermined-the military, police, service organizations such as Kiwanis, the Lions Club, churches and especially the nuclear family. Our society no longer wants to be limited by "the norms", rejecting the very things that have kept this country safe and stable for over 200 years. We are now controlled by the opinions of "the exceptions". In other words we are defined by how we feel rather than what makes logical sense. We are governed by individual bodily urges rather than by restraint and what makes sense for the group as a whole.

In my training as a social worker we were taught to look at and value the "Gestalt" or the wholeness of a person, family, community or society. While psychology focused on the individual, social work was supposed to be about considering the whole of life experience. Sadly, even my colleagues have abandoned their search for wholeness to their God of political correctness and their hesitancy to set boundaries. Having an internal life is what yields a satisfying external life. You cannot find fulfillment through ease, permissiveness, shallowness or self absorption. These only lead to greater yearnings and frustration. Wholeness comes from balance, honesty, work, discipline-the boring things your mother or grandmother told you when you were little.

So try sitting still, taking a deep breath, thinking about other people, avoiding rash decisions or new fangled solutions, resist the temptation to believe everything you hear, especially if it is from the news media-study it out in your own mind, use reason, the wisdom of the ages and maybe even try allowing spiritual influences to enter your consciousness-that is if you really want the truth and if you really want a happy, productive and satisfying life.


jonelle said...

What a beautiful post, Julanne.
Love you!

Rich Wales said...

Thanks for writing this, Julann.

I'd love to hear from you after all these years, BTW. Write me at if you get a chance.

Rich Wales (from UCLA)

sowusu said...

God bless you, this post is indeed a true message from GOD. Tanks a lot.