Trauma

What Keeps Us Crippled

September 14th, 2021

Did you exchange a walk on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?

Pink Floyd

We’re all well aware of climate change, COVID-19, Afghanistan, the opioid crisis, and a host of other challenges. But when it comes to actually doing something, how many of us take responsibility? If not, why not?

I imagine that most of us would say we’re too busy, or that these issues are just too big to tackle. But what if what’s really going on is something else? After all, the average American spends four hours a day watching TV. Are we really just too tired to act?

Responsibility is usually thought of as a moral duty. But what if each of us would naturally stand up — for the entire planet — if something wasn’t keeping us from doing so?

It’s often said that with the internet, we are now more connected than ever. But we may actually be more disconnected than ever. And what disconnects us is what keeps us from taking responsibility: from taking action.

In “Healing Collective Trauma,” a talk at the 2018 Science and Nonduality Conference, Thomas Hübl argues that in order to face our collective challenges, we must heal our collective trauma.

Hübl starts by pointing out that responsibility is the ability to respond. Notice that it isn’t about what we should do but what we would do if we could. When we are able to respond, we do so. We act appropriately, just as a mirror “responds” by reflecting whatever is in front of it.

When one person accurately reflects — that is, truly sees — another, this is also known as intimacy. Intimacy is seeing another clearly because our “mirror” is clear. It’s as if our awareness is a pool of water: when the surface is still, the reflection is nearly identical to the object. When this happens between people or between a person and their situation, when they see it clearly, the action that naturally results is appropriate: it is the best for everyone.

What clouds our awareness, and with it, our ability to respond, is our filters on reality. We “coat” or “color” what we see with our prejudices. And these are established, both individually and collectively, by trauma.

Our filters are what separate us. Unity, on the other hand, says Hübl, is another word for God. This makes healing trauma both the most crucial activism and a spiritual practice. When we can truly face reality, not fleeing into denial, we can finally take part in the world. Then we can handle the most seemingly insurmountable challenges. We are doing God’s work as One.

For more on healing collective trauma, see Hübl’s website.