Quotes of Wisdom: Roger Walsh On The Human Crisis

The great experiment in consciousness, human evolution, now stands at a precipice of
its own making. The same consciousness which struggled for millions of years to ensure human survival is now on the verge of depleting its planet’s resources, rendering its environment uninhabitable, and fashioning the instruments of its own self-annihilation. Can this consciousness (we) develop the wisdom not to do these things? Can we foster sufficient self-understanding to reduce our destructiveness, and mature rapidly enough to carry us through this evolutionary crisis? These are surely the most crucial questions of our time, or of any time. Today we face a global threat of malnutrition, overpopulation, lack of resources, pollution, a disturbed ecology, and nuclear weapons.· At the present time, from fifteen to twenty million of us die each year of malnutrition and related causes; another six hundred million are chronically hungry and billions live in poverty without adequate shelter, education, or medical care (Brandt, 1980; Presidential Commission on World Hunger, 1979). The situation is exacerbated by an exploding population that adds another billion people every thirteen years, depletes natural resources at an ever-accelerating rate, affects “virtually every aspect of the Earth’s ecosystem (including) perhaps the most serious environmental development ·.. an accelerating deterioration and loss of the resources essential for agriculture” (Council on Environmental Quality, 1979). Desertification, pollution, acid rain, and greenhouse warming are among the more obvious effects.

Overshadowing all this hangs the nuclear threat, the equivalent of some twenty billion tons of TNT (enough to fill a freight train four million miles long), controlled by hairtrigger warning systems, and creating highly radioactive wastes for which no permanent storage sites exist, consuming over $660 billion each year in military expenditure, and threatening global suicide (Schell, 1982; Sivard, 1983; Walsh, 1984). By way of comparison, the total amount of TNT dropped in World War II was only three million tons (less than a single large nuclear warhead). The Presidential Commission on World Hunger (1979) estimated that $6 billion per year, or some four days’ worth of military expenditures. could eradicate world starvation. While not denying the role of political, economic, and military forces in our society, the crucial fact about these global crises is that all of them have psychological origins. Our own behavior has created these threats, and, thus, psychological approaches may be essential to understanding and reversing them. And to the extent that these threats are determined by psychological forces within us and between us, they are actually symptoms – symptoms for our individual and collective state of mind. These global symptoms reflect and express the faulty beliefs and perceptions, fears and fantasies, defenses and denials, that shape and mis-shape our individual and collective behavior. The state of the world reflects our state of mind; our collective crises mirror our collective consciousness.

~ Roger Walsh from the book Human Survival & Consciousness Evolution

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