Becoming the cultural healer

Simon Marlow calls for humanity to leave it’s differences in the past and instead work towards collectively creating a vision for a more positive future

All cultures and societies have their unique myths and collective memories. There are daring stories of the hero or warrior that chart the rise and triumph of an emerging people. And there are inspiring accounts of the wise person who blazed a path into new spiritual understandings and values. These stories are an essential part of any peoples’ traditions and worldview and can be a positive means of fostering social cohesion and creating a cultural identity.

However, sometimes they can be distorted into a warped view of reality. Unchecked this can become a seed of future aggression and violence – a smouldering feeling of injustice, harking back to ancient battles fought and lost, or to longer running conditions of oppression by more powerful forces. In today’s world we see these distortions emerging into tribal and ethnic wars and other unresolved and deep-seated conflicts.

But humanity does not have to live through a perpetual re-enactment of past grievance and trauma. There is another way: the warrior must become the healer. Memory can be forgiven, goodwill can supplant hatred, tolerance can replace prejudice and fanaticism. This can sound impossible, yet everywhere in the world we can see examples of this happening.

For instance, many areas of regional and civil conflict are on the way to resolution thanks to United Nations peace keeping initiatives. Is it far-fetched to view these initiatives as the soul of humanity making its presence felt and bringing higher values into play? With the UN peace-keeping initiatives, in a very real sense the warrior can indeed become the healer, and many military personnel affirm how serving in these missions has for them been a life-changing experience.

This is where goodwill becomes so important. No matter how simple an issue is to solve, if goodwill is absent, then nothing lasting can be achieved. However with a genuine goodwill a way forward can be discovered in even the most intractable situations. A light can shine where before there was only darkness and misery.

People everywhere are coming to understand that we must now rise out of the prison of self-interest into the freedom of shared opportunity. There must be acceptance and forgiveness of the past, which is always a painful process. And then we can embody the vision of a humanity freed from a sense of separateness, and with a more prevalent goodwill we can really get on with the work of building a better world for everyone.