Photo from Apollo 11 Mission, July 16, 1969
This week witnessed the passing of another stellar astronaut who was part of the Apollo 11 Mission to put the first human on the moon. Michael Collins never got to walk on the earth’s nearest neighbor, but his role in piloting Columbia was crucial to their successful mission. In a 1988 interview, he was asked about his thoughts on how he felt when he looked back at our planet. To him, it looked fragile, and he realized it was something that needed great care and concern.
Today’s world is much different from the one pictured above. While technology has presented new advancements and enriched our lives, we have also neglected to care for and have taken for granted the natural resources it has abundantly supplied. Since then, the population has doubled, and every passing day ought to be a reminder that if we wish to leave a sustainable planet for our descendants, the time for healing is now.
Since my previous three articles focused on emotional healing, it seemed appropriate to examine how healing occurs on a macro level, or more than simply on an individual basis. How do we heal when there are 2 or more people involved? When relationships or families experience trauma, what steps need to be taken? Is it possible for a nation or the world to undergo an emotional healing of sorts?
Steps toward healing
Emotional healing is an important step for anyone who has suffered injury or abuse. It is my contention there is no damage so great it can never be remedied. Granted, some damage can leave deep and permanent scars, but to live a life perpetually under a cloud of hurt and pain is something I believe no one has been predestined to bear. It may require an inordinate amount of determination and resolve, but no one should ever be robbed of the opportunity to heal.
That same belief is held with regards to healing relationships, families, communities, and beyond. When the group heals, everyone will experience some of that individual relief. The challenge comes as the group increases in numbers.
When a relationship is on the mend, what generally occurs between the two individuals is the understanding of each other increases. The original issue is resolved or comes to a mutual conclusion. This may include forgiveness, reparations, or simply the genuine willingness to continue the connection. In short, there is a change in outlook of one another. Ill feelings or resentment cannot be held on to by either person or there will be an opportunity for reinjury.
The same basic principles apply to families only with the addition of more people complicating the process. There are families with such strong ties that their determination will overcome any damage they’ve sustained. Likewise, there are families in which one person may have deceived the rest and the guilty party may be permanently excluded from the healing process or the family altogether. Certain situations can be complex and may require a professional to intervene.
But for any group healing to occur, there needs to be a consensus from everyone involved. This is why adding more people into the mix makes the progression more difficult. When the group is an organization or community, it can exponentially add to the complexity. Fortunately, the larger numbers also dilute the influence one person has over the rest.
October 1, 2017
My current city suffered one of the worst mass-shooting tragedies the U.S. has seen. On the final evening of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, a lone gunman took advantage of the packed crowd and brutally shot over 500 hundred innocent people and cut short the lives of 58 souls. It’s little wonder this incident immediately sparked cries for healing from every corner of the town.
Healing a city from such a tragic event occurs in many ways and on different levels. For those who were in need of medical care, their emotional damage undoubtedly was far greater than that of a local citizen. But what needs to transpire to ensure healing can or will occur?
This town quickly pulled together. The term “Vegas Strong” became ubiquitous; a reminder that this appalling incident will not keep us down. The city’s professional hockey team the “Vegas Golden Knights” was about to begin its inaugural season and most of the players had no prior ties to their new home. Yet they took the lead in doing their part by visiting those recuperating from their injuries and participating in many other community events. While hundreds needed to heal on an individual level, the metropolitan area included over 2.4 million.
While healing as a town, individual healing also encourages it at a greater level. Personal healing may include acceptance, forgiveness, and/or awareness. But all of these feelings contribute to a change in the way we perceive ourselves. It instills a gratitude toward life and a greater empathy for those and their families who were not as fortunate. It means to continually strive for a better, more thriving community and be a willing part of its success.
The community will begin to identify themselves in a more compassionate light and give that same regard to other citizens because they empathize with each other’s pain. Gradually the empathy spreads throughout the city, causing it – and each person – to perceive it in an entirely different way.
When we heal emotionally, we change the way we think about ourselves by recognizing ourselves in a different light. The same is true at a city level. The citizens have a greater understanding towards each other and become more compassionate to all, especially those in dire need.
In this same way, when the world heals, it will change the way it observes itself. It will strive for compassion and empathy, not turning its head when a fellow human needs help, and take more serious the condition and health of this planet. Global healing is a concerted effort that ultimately breaks through race, cultures, and religions, ultimately changing the way it thinks about itself.
My thanks to NASA for the picture and I look forward to your comments. If you would like to read any of the three previous articles on individual emotional healing, click here to return to the blog home page and scroll down. If you would like to reach me personally about a question on how you can overcome past traumas, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org