An insightful look at how our societies, communities and political systems work, Healing Nations is also a deeply spiritual book. Indeed, it rightly reintroduces the spiritual into our personal and collective lives. As an example, love is shown for what it truly is, not some vague feeling, but a fundamental link that is vital to our personal health and wellbeing, and indeed to the wellbeing of our societies and nations:
CHAPTER TWO (EXTRACT)
‘We will never achieve good government under the orthodox paradigm, because we are political hypochondriacs. We are invariably wracked by imaginary pains. Very often all we manage to do is generate political and social cultures that can come close to being symptom-driven fantasies.’
Of course, many political symptoms are real. We can make a list, and most western nations would recognise them. Here are some of them:
Poverty amidst affluence
Run down cities
Uncertainties about public education
Crises within our Health Services
Lack of any sense of community
Illegal drug use
These are the sorts of issues we wake to every morning. They fill every TV and radio station, and also every newspaper, magazine and journal. Our social and political symptoms are the stuff of political debate. And as political hypochondriacs, we get politicians who are quasi-doctors: practitioners who respond to our obsession with political symptoms.
It could be said that our politicians are nothing but doctors, and that we are nothing but patients. This is how we operate. And a high percentage of our social and political problems is a consequence of that fact.
What doctor does not listen to our complaints? And do not politicians also listen? What doctor does not prescribe? And do not politicians prescribe? Individual members of parliament hold regular surgeries – aninteresting choice of word! Every political party takes soundings, for they are hot on their examinations these days.
Yet, most of our pains are imaginary. We can all invent political symptoms, but our politicians are masters of that craft. They have to be: for what else is an opposition party to do? That is its job: to have us believe the governing party is failing; that such and such a phenomenon is beyond the government’s ability to put right.
‘Let me get this straight,’ says Mike, who is hoping that Sandy is going to fetch the ice cream. ‘You are saying that everything is dominated by symptoms?’
‘That we treat our politicians as doctors and expect them to cure us?’
Mike shrugs. ‘So what’s wrong with that? ‘If my body is working alright, then I don’t need a doctor. But if I’ve got symptoms, then I do. And so I go to the doctor and get my treatment. He or she’s the expert. I don’t know anything about medicine, so I go to someone who’s trained.’
‘And are you comfortable with the state of training of your politicians?’
‘Of course not! They’re a bunch of idiots. I know ten blokes down the pub, and twenty taxi drivers who know more about running the country than any politician.’
‘So what are you saying?’ asks Sandy as she heads for the freezer. ‘That we need to train politicians in the same way we train doctors?’
‘Not a good idea,’ says John. ‘The point of democracy is that anyone can stand for election. And besides, one of the things we complain about is that too many of our politicians aren’t ordinary people. Most of them are career politicians, who have hardly had a life outside Whitehall. And I don’t suppose it’s any different in Washington, Paris or Rome.’
‘Well there isn’t any other way of doing it,’ says Mike. ‘If we’ve got symptoms, then we’ve got to have people to cure us. That’s what you do with symptoms.’
‘But it doesn’t have to be!’ Kate cries. ‘That’s where that logic, that John and I centre our lives on, comes in.’ She turns to us and we see real excitement. ‘You’re going to suggest a different way, aren’t you? That of alternative medicine and healing?’
‘Yes, we are. Although I am going to suggest that this different way is far more necessary within the political arena than it is with our modern and transforming medical arena. But let’s take this step by step. You already understand that new paradigm. But not everyone does. Most of our western world is still in thrall to orthodox practices. Now those orthodox practices are remarkable, and so often can be lifesaving. But people need to understand those practices’ limitations before they can be guided towards the new.’