The Essentials of Cross-Cultural Healing
Cross-cultural healing is an ongoing project for the human family, and a growing imperative given the challenges of this historic moment in our planetary existence. For this moment calls upon us to inform ourselves about what the human family holds in common, in order to work together and address environmental disasters, both their causes and consequences, that fundamentally affect the planetary life support system upon which we all depend.
Each and every one of us has the innate capacity to open our minds and hearts to human cultures and belief systems different from our own. We similarly have the capacity, indeed, the responsibility, to explore a deeper understanding about the particular culture in which we live and/or through which each of us chooses to identify. This exploration is not limited to what we consider to be beneficial in respective belief systems, yet also require dialogue on misrepresentations harmful to human interrelationships, the sustenance of life itself, and examining the reasons why. For no human culture is perfect or superior to any other culture.
In the study of history, for example, or other fields such as science, the arts, archeology and so on, we can discover that every human culture, and its majority religious belief system, has had its moments through history of creating and contributing a wealth of knowledge to the larger world in ways that advanced the whole human family through time. The shadow side, of course, is for us to examine as well the political, economic and religious struggles for power that destroy what is good and beneficial to all. No human culture or religion survives this examination smelling of roses.
My own interest to build understanding across cultures began more than thirty years ago when I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown, about the 19th-century holocaust of the American Indian. It awakened me with a jolt to ask, what happened in Canada and why did I not learn about the Indian (First Nations), Metis and Inuit peoples of Canada in my schooling? Henceforth, I began my first of several travels, eventually from the Yukon to Baffin Island, to discover my homeland through experiences among its first peoples. Doing so forever transformed my consciousness, and powerfully informed me about the living nations of Indigenous people who continue to exist here and around the world.
Meanwhile, the destruction of land-based peoples and the land, water and air of the planet continues unabated. It happens because not enough people stand up to stop it. No longer can we point fingers at the greed of multinational corporations. Instead, related to it is the more difficult work, namely, to deconstruct our individual and collective consumerism, and figure out the environmental and human costs. A second responsibility is to be honest in examining where we invest money in the stock market and, in turn, investigate at what unnamed human and environmental costs the profits are generated.
The other major obstacle to cross-cultural healing is one of our less flattering human tendences - greatly assisted by popular culture - to demonize 'the other,' rather than exploring the root causes of fear and prejudice. The imperative of our time is to deepen our own human understanding and to grow closer to who we can be, as compassionate beings. To do so requires an act of will. The development of the will is identified by spiritual psychologist Roberto Assagioli as the path to inner and outer peace.