I was blissfully unaware how infected with The Great Sickness I was until a few years ago. I grew up blessed enough to have 2 parents and big Italian family that loved, encouraged and supported me throughout my life. I went to Catholic school where I remained a child much longer than most and was buffered from the normal preteen jungle of how cool I was or how my clothes dictated what kind of person I must be. How then did I end up in my early 20’s with serious self worth and body image issues where I constantly felt not good enough in every area of my life? I remember being broke, single and living at home with my parents feeling awful about myself. I had a warm safe place to sleep, delicious food, water, enough clothes to last a life time and a group of friends who loved me. Yet the feeling of ‘not good enough’ was so overwhelming I was convinced that I would only be happy if I had more money, my own place, was thinner and had a man who loved me. I worked hard operating under that assumption to make changes in my life and 1o years later had a dream career that paid me more than I ever dreamed, lost 50 lbs. and was about marry the man of my dreams. How then was I still struggling and unhappy? Weren’t those all the things supposedly blocking my happiness? I came to realize I was infected with The Great Sickness and had no idea.
We have been conditioned from an early age that more is better. That we will be happier with more money, bigger homes, expensive cars, more successful careers, better clothes, perfect bodies etc.… But what if the things we thought would make us happy instead were causing stress, anxiety, depression, a constant feeling of lack AND hurting the planet? What if our perception of reality was skewed or influenced by people who were NOT looking out for our best interest? What if MILLIONS of people were suffering, even dying, everyday from preventable things? What if Earths resources that we desperately need to survive were disappearing at an alarming rate and no one was doing anything about it? It sounds petrifying but that is exactly what is happening yet most of us seem to be either oblivious or immune to it. I believe we have all been infected by The Great Sickness and don’t even know it.
We are taught from a shockingly early age from our culture and media that WE ALWAYS NEED ‘MORE’ TO BE HAPPY. We must CONSUME more, have more, be more and do more in order to find true happiness and our worth is dictated by the size of our bank account. The message begins flooding our impressionable brains at a truly disgusting age. There is now even a term called ‘Child Consumers’ in which advertisers target young children who have purchasing power. When was the last time your 3 or 4-year-old asked for a toy they saw on TV or begged for a snack they saw in a commercial? How about children at 5, 6 and 7 wearing makeup, thinking they are ugly or fat? As we grow that seed becomes deeply rooted and begins to determine our self worth, future careers, people we surround ourselves with and ultimately the lives we live. We are taught that CONSUMING more or making money is the end game. Have you ever felt that if you had more money, a bigger house, better clothes, more time, a better body or a smaller nose that you would finally be happy? IT IS ALL A LIE and is intentionally designed to make someone money. If we were all happy, healthy and sufficient why would we continue to consume? By definition our current monetary system cannot be sustainable, efficient or abundant or it will fall apart. If things like our energy, food and water came from sustainable sources how would someone profit from it? For example, if we change to renewable energy using FREE INFINITE sources like the sun, wind, tides and geothermal how will people continue profit from coal and oil? If electronics or machines are efficient, such as laptops or cars that lasted 20-30 years, how would the very few continue to make all the money? And most importantly for the entire system to function we all need to live in scarcity. We need to be afraid that if we don’t secure enough resources for ourselves and our family we will be left without. A system that operates like this is broken, ineffective and criminal in my opinion. It sounds insane that we PAY for things we used to get for free and do ourselves but that is exactly what we have been brainwashed to believe. Imagine if the SURVIVAL, HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF ALL PEOPLE were the highest priority and we all lived in abundance knowing there is enough for everyone.
Fun fact for you: 3,024 Americans died from 1975 through 2015 due to foreign-born terrorism (that number includes the 9/11 terrorist attacks). In sharp contrast approximately 1.2 MILLION PER YEAR die of Heart Disease and Cancer. Wouldn’t you think EVERY AVAILABLE RESOURCE, television commercial, news program and scientific study would be aimed at preventing and curing these terrible things killing so many of us? Sadly, just flip on the TV to see where our attention is INTENTIONALLY being diverted. Common sense would dictate every doctor, scientist, and engineer would be focused on finding solutions to the things that are impacting our lives the most. But we are so deep in The Great Sickness that most don’t even know it exists. Our generation may not have started it but we seem oblivious to something that could very well end our species. Tribal cultures understood this very thing and tried to warn us when we first settled in America. Unfortunately, we killed the majority of them and stole their land. In an article Indians 201: Soul Sickness written By Ojibwa it so eloquently outlines this concept.
“Among some groups of Native Americans there was a type of disease which the people called wétigo. They described this as a soul sickness and called those afflicted with it windigos—a term which can be translated as “cannibal” or “soul eater.” Windigos were destructive not only to themselves, but to those around them: they consumed the souls of other people with their greed. Perhaps, the traditional concept of wétigo (soul sickness) can help us understand some of the problems which currently exist in the United States.
They saw the European obsession with private property as an illness. The European desire to “own” land and to transform it with no concern for the greater good of the tribe puzzled most, and many spiritual leaders viewed this as spiritual cannibalism. In other words, the Europeans were windigos who were eating, metaphorically, their children’s flesh—that is, future resources, both physical and spiritual, that would benefit the next seven generations.
With a society that seems to emphasize the individual over the tribe (that is, the community, the country), the stage is set for wétigo or soul sickness. With an emphasis on winning and losing, on acquiring great individual wealth (greed), it is easy for people to become windigos—soul cannibals fixated on “feeding” themselves without concern for the common welfare.”
We are taught that strength, success and aggression are the traits and qualities that will ensure our survival and that humans are competitive and must WIN at all costs. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is a concept we base so many of our beliefs on, but is it really true? Turns out OUR BASIC HUMAN NATURE IS NOT TO compete, accumulate and isolate. We survived for tens of thousands of years by cooperating, sharing and living communally in harmony with the land. Look to nature where you would think the aggressive male would lead the rest. This is only true in a few isolated cases like lions, wolves etc.. The rest of nature COOPERATES and uses something more like democracy to let the majority vote on things. Our ability to COOPERATE AND HAVE COMPASSION for one another may actually be a key evolutionary characteristic that ensures our survival. For recent proof of this turn on the news to the coverage of hurricane Harvey. Instead of focusing on the death toll and loss of material possessions look for the helpers and check in to your emotions. It feels amazing to watch humans in their true state of service and concern for others. The reality is all the ‘possessions’ in the world cannot keep you safe. No matter how much you have it will not cure what we are all truly seeking, a connection to each other and nature.
So what is the cure for The Great Sickness? I don’t pretend to have all the answers but the first step is to WAKE UP and realize that there is something deeply wrong with the way we are living and dedicate yourself to being part of the solution. Here are some simple things you can do to begin healing. Intentionally seek out THE POSITIVE THINGS GOING ON IN THE WORLD by filtering the information you get. Be aware that TV, the news, magazines and social media are DEEPLY infected and will always try to reinforce that you need MORE. A good rule is if it makes you feel bad about yourself or your life STOP letting it enter your mind as these things will continue to infect you. Seek alternative media sites, try news programs from other countries to get different perspectives on world events. Every time you go to buy something (a product or service) ask yourself a few questions. Do I need this to survive? Is this something I can make or do myself? How can I downsize my possessions or simplify my life? Is there a more sustainable way to do this? Can I reuse or recycle this? Is there a way to get this locally? Do I really need to pay for another _____ or is the one I have sufficient? Why am I purchasing or paying for this? Connect with those of like mind who are seeking solutions to global issues and who will remind you YOU ARE ENOUGH!
The only way we are going to heal from The Great Sickness is one person at a time. Decide you are ENOUGH, what you have is SUFFICIENT, how you look right now IS PERFECT and you will be shocked at how little you need. Try being grateful for what you have instead of constantly focusing on wanting more. If you believe you need another ‘THING’ or ‘MORE’ to make you happy The Great Sickness will continue to infect you and future generations. While it is true that we are far better off than our ancestors who struggled to survive, we still have far to go as a species. Being hungry, cold and thirsty are terrible and will make you miserable. There is truth to that, and when those basic needs are met you are vastly happier. But after that THERE IS NO PROOF THAT MORE OF THOSE THINGS MAKES YOU HAPPIER, THAT IS THE LIE THAT KEEPS YOU INFECTED. I see a NEW world in which human lives are the highest priority along with the intelligent management of Earth’s resources ensuring not only our species ability to survive but to THRIVE.