Things fall apart. (1921)
W. B. Yeats
Make something from nothing.
As a family psychiatrist, I apply the S.O.A.P. template (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) to making assessments and treatment plans with stressed-out families Family systems under chronic stress will exhibit emotional, behavioral, and self-sabotaging symptoms that threaten to unravel the family bonds that secure resilience.
Upscaling this approach to the social systems in America today, I offer these observations and recommendations.
American culture is hijacked by fear. Existential threats include the COVID pandemic, climate change, mass shootings, racial violence, political gridlock, socioeconomic disparity, opioid addiction, devastating job loss, and many others. Mental and emotional consequences are emerging in a cultural posttraumatic stress wave across the nation. Helplessness, hopelessness, despair, rage, and terror have taken the nation hostage.
7.9 billion brains populate our planet. Stress hormones are engulfing these brains in increasing numbers. The medical consequences are clear: burnout syndrome on a planetary scale. The “job of being a member of civil society” is breaking down.
American Fear drives mass shootings (over 600 in 2020 and 220 by May 2021). Politically instigated fear focused the January 6th Insurrection. Cultural insecurity re-empowers racial bias and hatred. Gender identity evolution intoxicates the brain/minds of gender binary adherents. Intolerance, disgust, and contempt for the emergence of gender biodiversity bleeds into ancient religious dogmas that rationalize godly murder, empowering terrorism.
Fear of losing secure attachments to people, places, beliefs, ideas, and things, hijacks rational brains into mindless frenzy. Fear kindles suffering. Fear fulminates as a pandemic of social chaos triggers mass psychosis.
Biosphere burnout, pandemic, mass migrations, addiction, mindless political gridlock are symptoms, not causes, of systemic chaos and Global Burnout. Society is unwell. The structures that support this teetering socioeconomic pyramid, where a small percentage of people own most of the world’s wealth, are unsustainable. It is not time for another revolution. We do not have time or material resources to recover from race riots, gender wars, destructive outrage, insurrections, or systemic collapse. We must pool our energies, guided by our innate Creative Intelligence, to meet Nature’s challenges of climate change, socioeconomic disparity, and food shortages.
As mammals, we freeze, fight, and flee in the face of danger. Human beings feel confusion, anger, and fear. The colossal stress load on humanity hijacks every brain. Not since Hiroshima has such a collective fear of self-annihilation hijacked the human mind. The Global Village feels like a hostage to Nature. We are on the brink of catastrophic cultural collapse.
The great creative enterprise of human culture teeters at a tipping point of toxic stress. Each brain is equipped with innate resilience and the capacity for creative problem-solving. Resilience + Creativity = Creative Intelligence. We are a Creative Intelligent species. Our history reflects our ability to create “something from nothing.” We are the most powerful creativity machine in the known universe.
Human beings are challenged by nature to activate their gift of Creative Intelligence. We must learn how to use it. We must evolve a new definition of ourselves, reimagining our mission in this life, on this planet, if we are to overcome the escalating adversity pandemic.
Activating Global Creative Intelligence
Creative Intelligence must be trained, practiced, and guided from individual empowerment to social network evolution.
Cultural Wellness can only emerge through redefining the human mission towards species survival—Species Tribalism. Social evolution will require of massive infusion of Creative Intelligence: the inborn calm-connect-create response to stress. Every human brain is equipped for developing Creative Intelligence.
As the most advanced creativity machine in the universe, each human brain/mind can learn to regulate its own perceptions of stress. Simple practices based on gratitude and respect for human life, for consciousness, for fellowship, hold the potential to redefine how families teach children, how tribal groups view each other, how gender identities coordinate living together, and how different political models cooperate for the greater good.
Greed for wealth and power has been the driving force in human culture for 10,000 years. Perhaps the current extinction level threats may trigger social evolution, based on the Golden Rule of childhood and the kindergarten curriculum: “Take turns and share.”
Will our self-sabotaging behaviors find a balance to navigate beyond this perfect storm of cultural demise?
Will our Creative Intelligence sublimate self-centered greed into greed for species survival giving birth to Species Tribalism?
It is up to us.