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  February 24, 2003

To Be Human Is to Feel

Human beings are social animals. This means that human life naturally expresses itself as a group activity organized by group consciousness. We "organize," or function as an organ, like the cells of the heart or the liver.

The most important element in a social life-form is communication. To function properly, all parts have to know what the rest of the group is doing. It is essential that all members are "tuned in" to one another. In humans, this function is partially performed by language, but is more fully performed by the expression and reception of feelings.

Scientists have recently hypothesized that the limbic system of the brain is the organ most responsible for the understanding and expression of feelings. Humans, like other mammals, have an innate ability to "resonate" with the feelings of others, and this "limbic resonance" is a very rich and essential form of communication.

Turtles hatch from eggs and are immediately ready to fend for themselves. Mammals are very different. A human baby is born highly immature; it has to stay connected to its mother, father, and family in order to be nurtured and protected during its long development. Since a human baby is not connected physically to its mother after birth, it has to be connected emotionally - through the limbic resonance of feelings. For this reason, feeling are essential for human life.

In spite of what the purveyors of science and logic would have us believe, feelings are not unnecessary, annoying, dispensable, and frivolous. Feelings are the force that hold us together, the core of our organic communication. Unfortunately, although feelings are essential for our health and happiness, they are also very easily damaged by the traumas of neglect, abuse, and injury. When pain is too great, our feeling centers "blow a fuse" and shut down. If this system failure is not brought back "on line," our ability to feel is compromised. If we are repeatedly traumatized as children, our limbic resonance becomes dysfunctional. We become disconnected from our own feelings, the feelings of the group, and our natural way of life.

What happens when feeling - our inner compass - is damaged?

  • We are emotionally blind and are easily confused by ourselves and everything else in the world
  • We feel that something is missing and mistakenly try to find it in relationships, sex, drugs, food, entertainment, consumerism, politics, and religion
  • We don't understand our own bodies and we abuse them
  • We eat food and ingest substances that make us ill
  • Our bodies attack themselves with asthma, allergies, psoriasis, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other auto-immune disorders
  • We isolate ourselves in boxes - rooms, houses, offices, and cars
  • We feel alone, afraid, and in danger
  • We see others as our enemies
  • We create social structures, from work and sports to religion and government, that breed competition, division, and hatred
  • We don't feel the feelings of other plants, animals, and people, so we can easily neglect, abuse, and kill them
  • We destroy the environment that supports us
Life is not easy. It has both joy and pain. But the immense human suffering that we now see on this planet is out of control and out of balance. The multiple epidemics of disease, pollution, starvation, extinction, racism, poverty, and war are not problems with medicine, industrialization, population control, agriculture, education, capitalism, and government. These are just the symptoms of one, single, monumental problem - a disconnection of feeling.

To be human, to survive, we must feel.

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