Posted by: Stephen Paul | July 24, 2007

Overwhelmed? Will you ignore or accept what is?

A few days back I mentioned the list of interrelated, global problems that Lester Brown has identified as imminent threats:  population growth, climate change, poverty, spreading water shortages, rising oil prices, and rising food prices.  Whew! That’s a lot of problems, and each of them is huge and very complex. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?

I trained as a psychologist, and one theory that has always made sense to me is called Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Basically, the theory states that we organize our understanding of the world in our minds in a way that creates order and control, a way that allows us to function. When we are presented with new information–information that doesn’t already fit into the way we organize the world in our mind (say for example, our future is threatened)–we essentially have two choices. We can reshuffle the way we view the world to incorporate the new data…or we can ignore the new information. Hum.

I don’t blame anyone for being overwhelmed by the multitude of problems we currently face. It certainly is very tempting to ignore them–at least a bunch of them. After all, it’s just our nature, right?

Our very existence as a species–as well as our spiritual evolution–hinges on our choice. These problems will not go away if we ignore them. In fact, they are intensifying daily. Remember, ignoring these problems is a choice.  I’m asking that we make the tough choice. In a nutshell, we have to force ourselves–against our natural inclination–to accept what is and act on it.

 It is easy to see how, if we accept the challenge, we will evolve–individually, and as a species. Not only will we be creating a better world, we will be creating a better us.

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