The Cultural Sickness That Needs to Be Named
The Cultural Sickness That Needs to Be Named
A dark shadow has cast itself over the Earth. Is it a projection of shadows inside our minds?
By Joe Brewer / medium.com

All over the world there is a feeling that something is deeply wrong. It is often felt more than seen, an unnamed darkness that keeps millions (even billions) of people disconnected from the reality of authentic life-affirming experience. Too many of our so-called leaders are asleep at the wheel — they talk about economic growth at all costs as the only viable solution to mass poverty, wealth inequality, the climate crisis, and other planetary-scale crises humanity must confront in the 21st Century.

Those with a spiritual bend might say that a shadowy presence has shrouded much of the Earth. People are sleeping through the same nightmare, unable to awaken within the dream. They are like Mr. Anderson and his peers in The Matrix movies, plugged into a cultural system that feeds on their bodies and souls while keeping them unaware that they are living in a dream world.

What if the pain so many of us feel is caused by the same cultural sickness? How might we diagnose it? What are its root causes? And most importantly — how do we heal ourselves and the world around us?

These are deep questions. Spiritual questions. They are questions asked by seekers of truth in a time when discernment is desperately needed. And now is such a time. Our dominant consumer culture is built on the dark side of human nature — the propensity for greed that employs tactics of division to stoke fear as a system of control.

This culture tells us that humans are selfish and greedy. It says that we are nothing more than individual islands of ego floating in a sea of chaos. It is the Great Myth of Separation that takes many forms. We’ve seen it as humans apart from nature, reason divided against emotion, body separate from mind, one tribe distinct from another. This mental tendency to categorize the world according to its separations is the root cause of illness in the world today.

And it has a name. It’s name is Wetiko.

 

 

My partners at TheRules.org have created a special campaign that invites people to practice Seeing Wetiko — in the world around us and also within ourselves.

“Wetiko” is the name given to this cultural sickness in the Algonquin language. It is described by Paul Levy in his book Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil, in this manner:

Native American mythologies portray the mythical figure of wetiko as a cannibalistic spirit who embodies greed and excess and can possess human beings. The wetiko that was once a human being, but because of its gluttony and selfishness it was transformed into a predatory monster.

This mythic figure can be thought of as a state of mind, a psychosis or collective delusion that confuses the menu for the meal (for example, by confusing money for real wealth or treating nature as worthless while numbers in an accounting spreadsheet are considered to have value). A person inflicted by Wetiko is thought to have a heart of ice making it impossible for them to feel compassion or love for others.

It can be seen in the blind pursuit of money by those whose actions destroy the life-giving capacities of the Earth. It is whispered in the deep recesses of minds told there is something fundamentally wrong with them — an insecurity hole in their soul that can only be filled through mindless consumption of trendy products. It is the numbness of pornography replacing the erotic depths of emotional connection between human beings as one uses the other for carnal pleasure while giving nothing in return. And it is the psychopathic behavior of corporations that put profit above all else as the sacred purpose guiding CEO’s and investors.


Every time someone is seen justifying the destruction of life for profit — it is Wetiko.

Every time compassion is vitally missing during a time of suffering — it is Wetiko.

Every time a privileged person uses a “throw away” toy — it is Wetiko.

Every time fear or disgust is used to manipulate for personal gain — it is Wetiko.

Our purpose in telling stories about Wetiko is to cultivate healing experiencesfor people everywhere who are suffering through the unprecedented scales and pace of change unfolding around us. Without a clear concept for the feeling that the world has gone crazy, it remains vague and muddled. The antidote is to provide a name for this feeling — and imbue it with the power of good storytelling.

At TheRules.org we strive to reveal the hidden conceptual patterns that give rise to poverty, inequality, and ecological destruction. Using a combination of linguistic analysis and economic policy studies, we are beginning to see Wetiko all around us in the mechanisms that create these conditions in the social rules that guide the formation of trade agreements, financial policies, employment contracts, and other concrete applications.

For example, if we connect the dots well enough it becomes possible to see that:

  • Resource extraction is only possible when nature is treated as dead and worthless on its own. Thus it is possible to mindlessly consume forests and soils, deplete fish stocks, pour pollution into the oceans, and burn fossil fuels into the atmosphere.
  • Human labor is consumed as a “resource” that cannibalizes time, effort and enthusiasm. This is why so many of us are stuck in bullshit jobs while the Earth (and our local communities) are begging for meaningful service and a purposeful well-lived life.
  • The global network of tax havens is a vampire-like web that syphons the life-flow of human labor into the coffers of the super rich. As a result, the money supply becomes like blood that has been withdrawn from a living body.
  • Debt-repayment programs extract wealth from “developing” societies, disingenuously exploiting the morality of social responsibility to hoard massive wealth. Poverty is created and environments destroyed — at an accelerating pace — to keep this financial cannibal alive.
  • This debt-poverty disease inflicts “developed” nations as well. It can be seen in the exploding credit card and student loan debts, whereby people feel forced to serve money instead of pursuing their real passions.

We invite you to help us tell stories like these and reveal the ways that Wetiko functions through each of us as we remain plugged into the Matrix.

Only by awakening to our true power — that it is us who individually and collectively dream this nightmare creature into being in each and every moment — will we begin the process of letting it go and “dispelling” the myth we currently speak, think, and feel into being through unconscious actions.

By seeing Wetiko, we glimpse ourselves as powerful agents of culture creation. We become that we are capable of producing something so destructive and horrible without even realizing it. This becomes deeply inspiring when we imagine what becomes possible if we harness this creative power to embrace life and instead feed our innate sense of connection, wonder, and awe for all living things.

The human impulse to create dream worlds has been co-opted by the Wetiko mindset for far too long. It is the great threat to Wetiko and therefore must be deadened for it to work its dark magic upon us. Let’s wield this creative energy together and bring light into the dark places!

Onward, fellow humans.


Want to support my work? Appreciate my writings? Make a contribution here.

4.6 ·
4
What's Next
Trending Today
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 9,056 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 8,364 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 3,920 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Bernie Sanders: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders · 3,237 views today · We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.
Who's Really to Blame for Fake News? Look in the Mirror, America.
Neal Gabler · 3,034 views today · Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation —...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 2,937 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,622 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
South Koreans Are Really Good at Protesting
2 min · 2,265 views today · South Koreans organize some of the largest and most peaceful protests in the world. Here's what makes them so good at protesting.
Corporate Giants' "Sustainable" Palm Oil Revealed as Sham
Nika Knight · 1,593 views today · Nestlé, Kellogg's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others are linked to child labor and forced labor in Indonesia
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,361 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
The Most Mind-Altering Photograph of All Time
4 min · 1,141 views today · Carl Sagan narrates the story of the Pale Blue Dot, the one place we all call home. 
A Tribe Called Red and Saul Williams Offer a Powerful Prayer for Standing Rock and Beyond
5 min · 1,068 views today · Music video for "The Virus" by A Tribe Called Red, featuring Saul Williams and Chippewa Travellers.
Why We Need Big Picture Activism
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 1,059 views today · Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global economic juggernaut can seem too powerful to stop. But because more and more of us are becoming aware of...
How a Land High in the Western Himalayas Can Help Us Understand The Crisis of The Modern World
9 min · 932 views today · This is a clip from The Economics of Happiness. Watch it here. It's a brilliant film that was easy to put at the top of our list of the top 100 documentaries we can use to...
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 888 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 886 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy
3 min · 684 views today · What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic...
Social Media Echo Chambers: Here's How Most of Us are Living in One
2 min · 630 views today · Americans are blocking out the friends and news sites that won't confirm their views.
The Truth About the Alt-Right
11 min · 629 views today · Our comprehensive investigation into the Alt-Right movement, including its origins, its relation to the Trump campaign and broader implications for the future. Read more: What...
EU Energy Targets Will 'Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions'
Nafeez Ahmed · 617 views today · New renewable energy plan undercuts itself by boosting dangerous wood-burning industries
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The Cultural Sickness That Needs to Be Named