What's the problem?

Posted on May 15, 2017

Our lives seems to be full of problems. We have problems in our relationships, in our families, we have problems with our health, we have problems at work, we have problems in the community, in society, in our nations, in the world.

Life, it seems, is all about problems.

What if we had no problems? What if all our relationships were permanently harmonious, respectful and nurturing, if we enjoyed perfect health and vitality, the work place was supportive and empowering, the community was thriving, society was functioning well and the world was working for everyone? Bliss?? I don't think so. I think that people being people, and human nature being what it is, there would be a drive to make mischief - to stop us from getting bored!

Human beings are meddlesome creatures and if we are not creating something worthwhile we are creating mischief.

That's our problem - we simply don't have enough worthwhile things to do! We have all of these modern conveniences, all these time and labour saving devices, all these communication tools and platforms, that have, in reality freed up so many hours in the day, that we would previously have spent hunting and gathering, preparing food, providing shelter and warding off predators. What do we do with all this 'spare' time? We give ourselves problems - problems that we don't actually want to deal with or that we spend our time procrastinating and avoiding dealing with - because, if we dealt with that problem, we would then have more time that we would have to fill with more problems!!

We love having small problems - but we don't actually want to deal with them.

What we probably need, to keep us out of trouble, are really big problems - problems that we really have to deal with - problems so big that we need to come together to find solutions. Instead of dealing with smaller and smaller problems (that we insist on making bigger and bigger) we could decide that there were really serious problems that required our concerted efforts to deal powerfully with - like hunger, war, poverty, injustice, exploitation and climate change.

If we really had a big enough problem to deal with, as a group, one that required our full participation, talents, resourcefulness, ingenuity, collaboration and collective imagination - would it not be conceivable that we could actually solve all the worlds 'real' problems?

Perhaps that's why we love disaster movies - we see how people come together as one to fight a universal enemy, be it an indiscriminate force of nature or a threat to mankind. We even see it in real life when something really big happens like a tsunami, a flood, an earthquake or a fire.

What we fail to see is that in the absence of this external threat, we have turned our energies on ourselves, we have created 'monsters' in or minds, in our families and in our relationships, in our workplaces, our communities, in our societies and in our world and we are busy slaying our own demons.

If the building was really on fire, would you hold back on being rescued because your colleague had been promoted ahead of you? If your friend received a devastating diagnosis would you still hold on to being resentful that she hadn't complimented you on your new hairstyle? In an earthquake would the fact that your sister took your doll when you were seven be even the tiniest bit relevant?

When the problems of world hunger, war, poverty, injustice, exploitation and climate change are solved we can then go back to worrying about who said what about who, and who annoyed who when they did what, and who said something they shouldn't have said, and who got upset because someone did something fifteen years ago ..... or was it twenty five .... and there's another problem - not being able to remember why we got so upset about it - but we're still upset !!!

Are we the real problem? Perhaps if we could solve the mystery of ourselves and our smallness, all our small problems would simply disappear, and we could set about solving the big problems of the world.

For a 'big' life, we need to find some big problems and find a way to deal with them, such that the solution really does make a difference in the world. Perhaps if we saw ourselves, not as small, separate and alone, facing 'overwhelming' odds and huge imagined fears, but as a powerful collective capable of achieving anything - that would give us the courage we need - courage to face the facts; courage to take on the real enemy; courage to slay the real dragon.

Ní neart go cur le chéile.

Happy Days.

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