“Nothing changes until it becomes what it is.” ~ Fritz Perls
I have watched in despair this past week as tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees flooding into Europe.
My heart of course breaks for the death and suffering of those fleeing sectarian strife, but also for Europeans as they too embark upon gut-wrenching transformations.
A combination of nihilistic fundamentalist religion, climate change and petrol-wealth has unleashed a tidal wave, smashing cultures and economies irrecoverably. This “tsunami” of immense proportions is devastating Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
The U.N. estimates the number of displaced persons since last year to be nearly 60 million—about the population of Italy or Spain.
This is greater than the devastation and mass migrations following World War II.
Change evokes the grief process: denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. I believe this process applies not only to individuals, but to cultures, nations and even unions of nations. If the grief process is not completed then we become “stuck,” cycling around levels or stages until forced otherwise, either forward or backward in the process. Through this lens it is easy to view the Middle East endlessly looping in anger and depression.
As the waves of refugees inundate its shores, the West predictably loops in denial and bargaining, arguing over quotas in the tens of thousands while tens of millions surge toward their shores overwhelming an already shaky European Union.
To the ancient Greeks, hubris—humans aspiring to the actions of gods—was the worst sin. All the myths warn of human arrogance—like Icarus we soar too close to the sun melting our illusions of grandeur and falling to the sea.
The West, today, with its wealth and technology, is flying very high and temperatures are rising fast. The turmoil’s of the Middle East are deep, having festered for centuries and likely to continue for centuries more.
In 651, Arabia defeated Persia (Iran), capturing a rich empire from Egypt to northern India.
Europe then was in the Dark Ages, living in stone huts picking plague-infected fleas from each other. The New World was not even imagined in this flat world time! Surely our recent imperialism, attempts at regime change and massive transfer of petrol wealth have added fuel to this inferno of hatred, but the West is neither the cause, nor has a viable solution.
The myth of Pandora is also appropriate here. She was given a box containing all mortal evils and told never to open it. Curious about what was hidden, she opened it, releasing all but “hope” which remained in her possession.
Perhaps hope is all that is left, but preferably a realistic hope rather than an empty fantasy.
The world will drastically change, millions, perhaps billions will suffer and die and a new order will emerge that today cannot now even be imagined. According to the Pandora legend, Zeus granted us hope that we should not perish in despair, but learn from our suffering to live humane lives free of the sins of hubris.
We have much yet to learn, and this may be a nasty lesson indeed.
Author: John Hardman
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: PROTakver at Flickr