TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
-- Hamlet, William Shakespeare
We humans have suffered much and the world has suffered alongside us. Much of this pain is rooted in our failure to take an intuitive approach to the great questions of life, such as:
·What is my place in the order of nature? ·What is my place in the order of society? ·Who am I?
We have been programmed to suppress important components of our individuality, to feel that significant parts of our makeup are shameful, an enemy to ourselves and others. Sometimes we try to recapture these missing pieces of our lives through being a part of something larger than ourselves, but more often than not we compensate by minimizing the role of others. We try to lord ourselves over others; our women, our animals, the other races of man, and nature itself. When we are behind on our rent, paid less than we feel we deserve, or are at odds with our boss, we take comfort in the notion the entire universe was made solely for their our benefit, the only species that really counts. We make rules to keep everything and everyone in their place and everything runs smoothly…or does it?
Take a good look around you. Is anything running smoothly?
The human being is a puzzle, and one of the wonders of nature is the odyssey of personal growth in which a child assembles those pieces and becomes a whole person. Yet we have denied ourselves some of the pieces that we should be fitting into their unique naturally-determined places as part of our growth. The substitute pieces we grab for cannot be forced into these existing holes, so are tacked on elsewhere, an unnatural addition corrupting the unfolding pattern of our nature even more.
John and Barbara Williamson were aware of this problem and they sought a solution. They began with experiments in recapturing self worth at its source, especially their craving for genuine intimacy and expressive individuality.
They discovered that society has two irreconcilable viewpoints on sex, lauding its abstract expression through romantic arts while oppressing its concrete expression through a rigid matrix of social mores. Sex became both a charming notion and a necessary evil. Thus as the part of human endeavor least able to fit into a rigid framework that “civilized” society dictates, sexual intimacy is viewed suspiciously as a beast to be confined, admired when needed but left locked in a cage as we put on our tie, tighten our corsets and try to pretend we’re not members of the animal kingdom.
After the Williamsons put the first cracks in a conventional wisdom that was more conventional than wise, they came to see that the institutionalized repression of human nature was destroying more than interpersonal relationships. Man’s distorted self image threatened the very health of the planet. The same process of self-discovery that fueled Sandstone could be applied to an urgently needed realignment of our relationship with Planet Earth.
We need to stop seeking fulfillment through the materials we own, the relationships we dominate and the wilderness we subdue. We must seek healthy and interdependent relationships with ourselves, our companions, our communities and our world. We must find more of what we need within ourselves rather than trying to wrest fulfillment by alternative means from the limited resources of nature.