Tag Archives: group therapy

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 5)

Glitzy and exciting, but major disadvantages.
Glitzy and exciting, but major disadvantages.

Daily life in a mature culture — more musings. In the last few posts, I have suggested that “therapy groups” would be the norm for personal development. I now want to chunk up to what would cities be like, possibly shifting back and forth between daily life and city life for the next few posts.

First of all, village life has been part of human existence for thousands of years — it is what we were designed for in hunter-gatherer communities. The disadvantage of separate villages, of hunter-gatherer life, was starvation (Rupert Ross makes this very clear in his book Dancing With A Ghost.) The advance (?) into civilization, especially that of industrialization, then required that people move to cities so as to optimize resources, human and otherwise. And although there are major advantages to city life, the downsides are massive: concrete jungles, a lot of marginalization, et cetera. In a mature culture, we must find a balance between these forces, optimizing the advantages of each — the issue is that of a polarity difficulty, not an either/or situation.

In my explorations, I have encountered two examples that I really like (although each has significant disadvantages compared to my current individualistic lifestyle). The first is the greening of current day cities, such as the retrofitting of Manchester, with green streets, walls, and buildings; rooftop food production; and extensive photovoltaic energy production. Obviously, only a little different from our current world; technologically possible, but what about our emotional needs? From my perspective, very feasible if we truly step into a wisdom culture. The disadvantage would be the footprint of cities, precluding small group face-to-face discussion on most issues; this can be minimized with efficient technology, but I suggest that technology is not perfect, and does not replace the need for direct human contact. The greening of current cities could be a temporary measure, but I suggest some kind of village milieu is still needed.

Contrasting cities, with interesting options.
Contrasting cities, with interesting options.

I therefore favor the Victory City, the semi-utopian concept of Orville Simpson II, cities of approximately 200-300K people, self-contained and self-sufficient based on a land footprint of 3 square miles (compared to a modern city of similar size occupying over 200 square miles). I suggest the design[1] is very feasible if we truly step into a wisdom culture.

With the Victory City model, assuming it was widely copied, there would be approximately 6,000 cities across the world. Although I was initially reluctant to envision living in such a high-rise complex (102 floors) as Victory City, I am now more convinced of its design structure. Its small footprint means extensive wilderness areas. Local transportation would be by extensive high volume, high-speed elevators, both between floors and between buildings. Living units would predominantly be bedroom areas and privacy areas, rather than the extensive private living quarters of present day modern life. All food production is on-site, with only a small amount obtained from other centers. Most food service would be within large high-volume cafeterias. Its small size would allow easy access of work locations and of outdoor recreational facilities.

High-rise living, with many possible features.
High-rise living, with many possible features.

The change that I would make in a Victory City would be that the high-rises would consist of village-like sandwiches, every three floors being two floors of private living space with an intervening village-like common between. Such an arrangement would maximize face-to-face discussion of important issues (intersubjectivity), shared decision making in trusted groups (direct democracy). I would also want to maximize efficient electronic communication so as to allow people to truly live and work within their village-like environments.

Next posting, I will explore how daily living conditions would function in a Victory City.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

[1] After his death, Simpson donated his work on Victory Cities to the University of Cincinnati; I have not found easy access to his work from this source. However, when I was doing my PhD, I was verbally granted me access for usage in my dissertation, although I never received written permission.

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 4)

Adults learn best in cooperation.
Adults learn best in cooperation.

Daily life in a mature culture — more musings. In the last post, I suggested that “therapy groups” would be the norm for personal development. What would this be like?

These would be gatherings in small group for honest dialogue, likely weekly or twice a week. Adults learn best by having significant emotional experiences, and then reflecting on them in the presence of trusted adults. This would be a place of honesty, emotional expression, and compassionate reflection — one of the best examples I have of something like this is the aboriginal justice circles (Rupert Ross, Indigenous Healing: Exploring Traditional Paths), where there is no sense of guilt or shame evoked. Another example would be the work of Roy Madron on Gaian Democracies — an excellent example of cultural maturity, ranging from individual group process to world governance.

In-depth personal work requires a facilitator — as human beings, we are past masters at avoiding our own issues, and a good facilitator can point out to us that we are avoiding an issue, or alternatively, can point out to us something that we are missing, even if it seems obvious. Such facilitators will be part of the ongoing village community, and in many circumstances can arise spontaneously through recognition of their maturity by others within the community.

One of my mentors suggested that a good facilitator-therapist has three characteristics, in reverse order of importance:

  1. they have a theoretical framework within which they work. This framework is seldom of use in the moment, but provides a way to talk about what was done, after the fact.
  2. they have practical experience working with people, usually with ongoing supervision by other therapists, either their peers or more mature therapists.
  3. they do their own personal work; they have struggled with their own demons, and know the value of compassion. This is the most important characteristic.

There are a number of fundamental skills that a therapist requires, independent of the theoretical framework, skills that are only learned by one’s own personal work. For me, most important amongst these skills are:

  • the value of powerlessness.
    • The most succinct way I have of describing this is the statement of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “If it is possible, Oh Lord, let this cup be taken from me. If not, Thy Will be done!” It is the process of acceptance of what is, or what must be based on one’s values.
  • the willingness to risk.
    • Personal growth is high risk. The individual will certainly risk feeling powerless, and potentially fall into pain as he or she confronts issues wherein he or she is not acting according to values that are important to this individual. (Such values may not be important to the group, or may actually be opposed by the group; this may actually be important for the growth of the group.)
    • There are many times where a good therapist must risk just as much as the client; it is frequently the place where the therapist grows, both personally and professionally.
  • the willingness to meet the client in their own world (the process of rapport).
    • Sometimes this means reflection with the client in their pain; sometimes it means getting in their face so as to demonstrate the impact of something such as self-righteousness. Again, it may entail risk.
  • the use of silence.
    • Silence is a very powerful tool, and used well, can be very therapeutic. It may be part of rapport; it may be part of risk.

We are not born knowing all we need to know; that is what the human journey is — the opportunity to grow in maturity. And our current culture is abysmal in this process. I have said many times that, as individuals we are capable of incredible greatness, but as a species we are psychotic — we tolerate numerous inequalities, of people, of education, of food availability, of basic necessities.

If we actually resolved these inequalities, we would still need living in small village-like environments, exposed to the processes I am exploring at the moment. But it would be so much easier to achieve and maintain maturity!

Your thoughts?

To be continued.