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:
THE KEY AND THE JOURNEY
This book is about healing our nations: healing the countries in which we live; the countries that shape us; the countries that we can shape in our turn. This book shows how politics and society can be transformed, but it is about you and me. It shows how government can be made more efficient, more responsive and more effective, but is about how you and I lead our lives.
This book shows us how to work with every ‘symptom’ that makes our modern nations ‘sick’: but it is not about eradicating those symptoms. It reveals for us the fundamental problem that lies at the heart of our social lives, and is about transforming that problem. This book is about healing: healing ourselves, healing our neighbourhoods and communities, healing the very nation states in which we live.
What is being offered here is nothing less than a journey. It is a personal journey and it is a social journey. For in this book the language, the logic, the potentially life-enhancing philosophy of healing is transferred into that greater arena of ourselves and our communities.
The effect can be startling. So much that is wrong with the way we lead our lives is revealed. We will see that so often when we do something to make things better, we so often make things worse. We will see that too often we want to cure our problems, but we rarely think of healing them. We will see at last that socialism and conservatism, communism and fascism, liberalism and radicalism and every ‘ism’ that has been invented to take our problems away, are philosophies that will always struggle to solve our problems.
We will also see what we have always suspected: that too often our politicians are legislation junkies, and that we, when letting our politicians try to cure us of our problems, are too often social and political hypochondriacs.
But we will not just understand what is wrong. The philosophy of healing will help us understand what it really is that we must do to make our lives better. For the philosophy of healing, when employed in the social and political arenas, helps to put us back at the centre of our own stories: where we always should have been.
So this is not just any old journey. This can be the most amazing and transformational journey that any individual or culture can undertake. And because it is so important, because it could be so life changing and life enhancing, this is not a journey that anyone need make alone. Indeed, we will provide a guide, and that guide will be us. Not only that: we will provide four companions to share the journey with us.
Let us go and meet them. Firstly there is Mike and Sandy. We will find them in the Whitgift Shopping Centre in Croydon, south London. They are sat in a café, for they have been shopping and need a rest. Soon, though, they will be ready to talk to us. And then our adventure can begin.
Who are Mike and Sandy? They, and their friends Kate and John, are you and me of course.
As it is transformation we are interested in, we need to know that Mike and Sandy are in the transformation business. In fact, they are unacknowledged masters of their craft. To follow them into the shops, to drive back with them in their car, and most especially to be invited into their home, is to be in the presence of transformational artistes. They have transformed their lives with gadgets and furnishings. They have transformed their years with holidays. They have even transformed the way they smell with cosmetics. But what will they say when we tell them they need to be involved in the transformation of the social and political rather than just the personal?
‘Don’t make me laugh!’ Mike immediately cries. ‘I’ve had it up to here with political parties. They’re all the same. They all make promises they can’t keep or don’t want to keep. Half of them are in it for what they can get. And none of them really understand ordinary people like us.’
‘That’s right,’ says Sandy. ‘Of course, most elections we vote. But it’s all a nonsense really. Sometimes I can’t believe what our taxes actually go on. And have you tried commuting into the centre of London? We do it every working day. I’ll tell you this: animals being exported to Europe are given better conditions than we are. And don’t talk to me about the health service.’
Of course, we are all into personal transformation. For example, Mike and Sandy’s neighbours, John and Kate, have quite a different agenda, because it is transformation of the soul that interests them. These two are very spiritual people. They visit holy sites, they insist on being vegetarian, and they meditate every day.
And what do they say about working towards social and political transformation?
‘It’s a nice dream,’ sighs Kate. ‘And we believe that if enough people try to transform themselves spiritually, then great changes will occur socially. But to try to do it directly, well…’ She gets up from her yoga position and looks across at John.
‘Exactly,’ says John. ‘You haven’t a chance of changing things politically. The only thing we can change is ourselves. For goodness sake, we’re living in a world despoiled of community. It’s almost totally depleted of its spiritual resources.’
‘And it’s in thrall to materialism,’ exclaims Kate.
‘And the cold logic of the machine,’ concludes John. ‘We haven’t got a hope of changing that.’
‘John’s right,’ says Kate. ‘That’s why we follow our own path. It’s the only part of our world we have real control over.’
What John and Kate say is true. And, of course, we are all at it. We are all on our own journeys: whether they are journeys of spiritual transformation, or journeys that seek to transform our home furnishings. Because the world is beyond our ability to influence, we seek our own agendas. Either we have entered into communion with our inner selves, as have Kate and John; or we have entered into communion with the contents of online shopping sites. In fact, we have all been creating transformations of our mind and spirit; or we have been creating transformations of our leisure time and possessions. But for a long time now, we have not attempted to transform our institutions, political practices and cultures.
But here is a key question: can we actually hope to be successful in our personal journeys when we pay no heed to the landscape in which we travel?