Healthy Community, What Humans Are Missing

Have you ever wondered why humans always seem to have an empty hole inside of them that can never be filled? Why do most of us always crave more and are never satisfied? Why do so many humans abuse so many things, and each other, to the point of addiction? To the point of degrading their own quality of life and the quality of the other lives around them? I’ve wondered these questions for most of my existence, and have come up with an answer that I feel addresses them well: Most humans are missing healthy community.

Picture of Rimakej's left arm holding up folds of her red dancing skirt to the bars protecting the inner caverns of the Leech Wells in Totnes, Devon, UK. There are many spiritual offerings left by community members of colorful ribbons, feathers, and plant material tied to the metal bars and left on the ledge in front of them.
Community spiritual offerings for Yule at the Leech Wells in Totnes, Devon, UK.

Escapism

First, I must mention that obviously the most persuasive force behind addiction is the need for escape. The need to escape and distract from all of our problems by obsessing over something that gives us a temporary and shallow “high.” Escapism is a coping mechanism that is a necessity for survival for most people now. The ever increasing capitalism of this world forced the majority of us into living a mind-numbing laborer existence since birth. Most of us are barely surviving, working ourselves to death, and constantly being exploited by the top 1% of an everything-for-profit world. Not to mention the even worse sufferings forced upon minority groups due to the systematic injustices that are still infesting most modern societies. This kind of existence is undoubtedly extremely stressful and unhealthy to say the least.

This then leads us to ignore the rest of our community. Because we can’t even handle the difficulties in our own lives, let alone care about someone else’s. Barely any of us even ever have the extra energy to actually take action to change those difficulties for the better. Merely simulating escape and “freedom” through addictive consumerism is far easier for most and even heavily promoted by capitalist society. Then these addictions usually just drive us deeper into debt and strip away our health. (Remember that true health encompasses all levels from emotional, to mental, to physical health.) Of course, these side-effects only add to the increasing difficulties we long to escape from, which just perpetuates this cycle of abuse.

Losing Ourselves

We silence and bury our unique gifts and skills to waste away within us. We have to do this just to survive in modern society. Because our talents are listed as “wastes of time” if they aren’t easily manipulated or exploited for profit. This only gives us yet another reason to crave escape. We have to ignore our true selves all because we weren’t born into the top class. Or we are unwilling/lack the opportunities to do the exploiting of others that capitalism requires to get to that class.

Modern society has even convinced us that the ultimate goal, the “American Dream,” is to become such an abusive person. They’ve convinced us that their way of exploiting other people to get to the top is the only way any of us could ever be free to manage our own time and energy. To them, that is the only way we could possibly live in a meaningful and productive way that feeds our own personal health and wellbeing. But exploiting others, even indirectly, only kills one of the key components to living such an ideal life. It kills the community around us. And every person’s full health directly correlates to the health of our community. Humans are social beings. We need a healthy community in order to survive, and especially to thrive.

Picture of the top of Rimakej's left hand decorated with henna paste in a design featuring a spiral wrist cuff at the base of multiple hands growing in size as they are reaching out over the back of Rima's hand to empower and guide her with lines of energy filling in their negative space.
Community Energy henna design by Rimakej Valentini.

Nature’s Balance = Healthy Community

Nature is our community too. Our lives depend on the flow of Nature from our food and water sources, to the very air we breathe. Many intuitive, intellectual, and perceptive books about the progression of societies/civilizations, such as Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, and those written from a philosophical point of view, such as Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, have pointed out a glaring truth. When ever groups of humans began attempting to control every part of Nature in order to grow excess food for their own immediate gratification, they broke from sustainable balance. Many civilizations boomed and ultimately collapsed from abusing the environment around them. The environment which was a vital part of their own community. Just as much as the environment is still a vital part of our own community today.

Picture of Rimakej sitting at the edge of a high platform on top of one of the Mayan temples at Altun Ha in Belize, while looking out across one of the plazas towards another tall temple.
The Mayan Ruins of Altun Ha on our visit to Belize in 2017.

Their environmental abuse, as all abuses do, led to long-term damages that have been building for thousands of years. Each new generation inherits these ever deepening caverns between community members. These damages are slow-burning and more destructive than anyone can properly measure. Yet, those who only focus on what they personally experience within their own lifetime easily dismiss these damages. To each new generation, these damages are already the norm, as addictions and escapism are now the norm. This is so much so that we have become complacent in believing the lie that there is and never was a better way to live.

Living in Balance

The true balance of Nature is fair and unbiased. It’s goal is for the whole system to grow, evolve, and progress together. Every being is a benefit to Nature, but can also become a harm if left unchecked to abuse others within the community. Humans are meant to be in balance with the rest of Nature. This includes being in balance with each other. And arguably, our evolved intelligence means that we should and could be making the most beneficial advancements in progressing the whole of our earthly community. Yet, the dominating ones of our ancestors chose to create and simultaneously enslave themselves, along with all of their descendants, within a never-ending race to fill a bottomless hole deep within each of us. A hole which our healthy connection to Nature, to our whole balanced community, used to fill.

Artistic photo from above Rimakej's head as she is looking down at and lightly touching with her right hand a rotting hole in the in the center of a cut Douglas fir tree stump.

The colonizers of history silenced or forcibly converted most of our Indigenous ancestors on every continent. Those of our ancestors who were living in balance with the rest of Nature. Yet, the colonizer way of life is glorified in how it is taught to us to this day even with the many documented failures of all of the dominating civilizations throughout history. Those colonizer values carry on through the continued degradation of the few Indigenous cultures left in the world today. And through the constant abuse of the rest of our community, from the exploitation of the majority of the human population, to the extermination of entire species.

Front photo of the few marble pillars and partial wall left standing of the Roman Temple of the Perpetual Fire in Rome, Italy.
Roman Ruins of the Temple of the Perpetual Fire during our visit to Italy in 2016.

It Takes a Community

Have you ever heard the term, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I have found there to be a lot of knowledge behind this statement. Yet, I would amend it to saying that it takes a community. And, maybe even amend it further to say, “It takes a healthy community to make life whole.” I can’t say how exactly the whole of the Earth can return to being such a healthy community, but every new journey begins with acknowledging a truth. Maybe that’s how we can all take our first steps together.

Artistic photo of Rimakej's right hand resting on a thick patch of lively green moss growing alongside healthy vines and pennywort.

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