The Pathway of Courage
The Courage of Relationships
Relation is the essence of everything that exists.
Individualism is embedded in the American psyche. We want our own space, our own time, our hamburgers our way. We want other people’s ideas to agree with our own. We want to be financially independent. When we go to the store, we grumble if the parking space we want is not available, and we grumble more when the prices and items for sale don’t please us. This American individualism is deeply forged in the history of most of our ancestors coming to this continent from other places to take and make what they wanted, forcing others to come here and make for them what they wanted, and destroying and exiling those human beings already here–so that they could have what they wanted. It’s a horrible, devastating history that even in 2022 many Americans cannot allow themselves to acknowledge. Now, those Americans set out to ban any history that they do not want to hear. It’s American individualism.
Meister Ekhart, the 13th century mystic, understood our reality very differently. In 2022, those who are paying attention to the findings of the sciences, from physics to psychology, are realizing the same thing. There is no such thing as the individual object, the individual human being. There is no such thing as having things my way. When I was charmed by television commercials into thinking that I could have my hamburger my way, it failed to mention that my burger came that way at the hands of minimum wage workers, food chain franchises, corporate ownership, mass produced animal meat and vegetables, bread and condiments (especially the super sauce) filled with corn syrup produced by a corporate farming industry. My hamburger is connected to everything and everyone else in what becomes surprisingly painful and oppressive ways.
Individualism is an escape. It provides us with a temporary alternative to looking at everyone and everything else as OUR WAY. My choices are never just mine. Our choices touch so many others whom we will never know. Waking up to that reality means moving through our days quietly asking everything, everyone: what is my relation to you?
It is difficult to face this reality, but necessary for us to do each day, especially when we want to have things “our way”. The interconnectedness of all things in our daily life is real.
So big, so broad , so “universal”. When our daily practices become so mechanized and our economy so very efficient, it takes our individual claim to our life and beliefs and forces them into a formula that will bind us to the “accepted way”. It’s a paradox. The American individual exists in a culture that works best through homogeneity!