The Root Cause of Modern Society's Suffering – Disconnection
How social, financial and ecological disconnection have made us miserable, Big Pharma's role, and a vision for a better future
This week, I’d like to dive into disconnection. It’s a topic dear to my heart that I’ve lived and breathed in various nuances. I was disconnected emotionally and spiritually for the majority of my life. I didn’t like the person disconnection turned me into.
During my MBA, which finally provided a break from the rat race, I became truly aware of my deep-rooted ailment. I began the long and hard process of reconnection. A process that involved plant medicine, as well as many complementary practices.
When I returned to my job after grad school, I shifted my work toward climate action in the search for more meaning and impact. I found myself sitting in front of investment bankers consulting them on how to monetize the carbon credit market.
There I was, and I realized, this wasn’t it. This was symptom management, not root cause healing. Banks making sustainability business plans is not a problem per se, we’ll need that given capitalism is the underlying force of modern society. Yet, it became clear to me that what we needed, even more, was mass reconnection.
Disconnection from Self is at the root cause of all of our problems, which manifests as disconnection from nature, which manifests in the climate crisis. As long as people are disconnected, they’ll continue to create systems and structures that are exploitative and destructive. We cannot heal our planet without healing ourselves.
I decided to shift my focus from furthering climate action to helping people reconnect, realizing that individual transformation would result in all these other societal macro shifts. After turning toward root cause healing in my own journey, I turned towards root cause healing in society.
The Connection Between Various Flavors of Disconnection
Disconnection is hidden in plain sight, it’s built into the fabric of society. Social, financial, and ecological forces have created a system that has created wealth for very few at the expense (and misery) of many.
Individualism in the West, specifically the US, has idolized individual achievement above all else. As a result, community institutions have lost importance and social disconnection has increased rapidly. We’ve become a lonely society. Last year, Harvard reported that over one-third of Americans feel “serious loneliness”.
Financial disconnection has developed as the result of big, national corporates replacing local businesses, pulling capital from local communities into the pockets of a handful of shareholders and CEOs. Capital is extracted from local communities rather than re-circulated. As a result, inequality in the US has shot through the roof. The 10% of wealthiest Americans hold 90% of all stock. Economic inequality, in turn, further promotes depression and anxiety. The US is the richest country in the world, yet it’s also the most miserable country in the world.
Big pharma has leveraged all of these forces to p the Medical Model which further disconnects patients from everyone else. Patients who struggle with depression or addiction are isolated and labeled as mentally ill, different from everybody else, without properly taking into account what’s going on outside the patient’s brain chemistry. We’re diagnosing people as mentally ill for their inability to adjust to a sick society.
Finally, ecological disconnection has been the perhaps most detrimental and urgent result of extractive capitalism. Those who make decisions that affect natural environments do not live in those places — they are inherently disconnected.
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A Vision for the Future: Individual and Collective Well-being Through Awakening and Community
Admittedly, the picture we’ve painted is bleak.
That doesn’t mean there is no hope, however.
More and more people are “waking up”, turning inwards, and deeply reconnecting.
So, what can reconnection look like?
Waking up to the interconnectedness of all beings and recognizing the other, and the earth, as oneself
Healing your inner child and integrating destructive, fragmented pieces of your personality, which are often the result of trauma
Healing your ancestral line and generational trauma
Developing a relationship with the resources you consume, whether it’s food, clothing, or others
Stepping outside your modern life more frequently to return to mother nature
Replacing intentional in-person connection with online, fake connection
Learning to vulnerably speak your truth and by doing so, inspiring others to do the same
Recognizing community is medicine and seeking out opportunities to repair and build local communities
Even if a large share of Westerners would just accomplish (1), the world would look drastically different.
Personally, I know that psychedelic medicine has been the most effective conduit for many of these for myself and many, many others. Of course, one does not need psychedelics to reconnect. However, it may be the fastest path we have — and we’re running out of time. One thing is clear, it is incredibly hard, virtually impossible in my opinion, to have an intentional relationship with plant medicine and stay severely disconnected.
May we all find each other and ourselves again.
May we all find freedom in connection.