Social and Ecological Healing
Addressing the Primary Wound of Separation
The primary wound at the root of social and ecological dysfunction is separation. While ancient humans understood life as a blessing and humanity’s health as inextricably tied to the health of the Earth, moderns have come to imagine that we are separate from both the natural world and each other. These expressions of separation have not only led to environmental pillaging and hoarding of resources; they have also led to existential and social isolation, despair, depression, rage, racial prejudice, sexism, religious fundamentalism, war, and genocide. We can bring about social and ecological healing only if we address the primary wound of separation.
Reconnecting with Nature is the axis for change. We will never heal without first acknowledging that our current relationship with the natural world is one of power over nature—and then consciously changing from a dominator mentality to one of partnership. Similarly, relationships between perpetrators and victims will not change until one group acknowledges what they have done to the other. Without doing so, victims tend to perpetuate the cycle of violence, becoming oppressors of new victims. An honest encounter with wounding is the only way to deconstruct the prevailing false narratives and create a healthier story.
In the late 1990s, Judith Thompson and James O’Dea begin their collaboration in the emergent field of social healing with initial funding from the Fetzer Institute. They created a forum for dialogue around the deeper psychological and social context of human rights violations. They initially gathered thought leaders from around the world to create a framework for addressing worldview change around social healing. They next took their work to Israel, Palestine, Rwanda, and northern Ireland, among other places. They addressed social healing through constellation work, talking circle dialogue, and restorative justice practices, among other modalities. They helped many individuals interrupt the intergenerational transfer of wounds that we had come to expect among war-torn populations suffering from deep historical trauma.
While their work was successful, much remains to be done. Amid worldwide simultaneous ecological, social, political, and health crises, James and Judith join us for a discussion of strategies for coping with and transforming historical trauma and wounding into healing. Join us as we take on the challenging but imperative task of addressing Social and Ecological Healing.
James O’Dea has had varied organizational leadership roles as President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Executive Director of the Seva Foundation and Director of the Washington Office of Amnesty International. James lived in Turkey during civil strife and a coup, and was in Beirut during the Israeli invasion and subsequent massacres in the Sabra Chatilla refugee camps and helped facilitate social healing dialogues in these global hotspots. As lead faculty for the Shift Network’s Peace Ambassador Training, he has taught peacebuilding to more than a thousand students from 30 countries. He is a bestselling author of books such as The Conscious Activist, Soul Awakening Practice, and Cultivating Peace. He integrates his teaching and activism with a deep and practical mysticism and the cultivation of compassionate wisdom. He draws upon a rich tapestry of knowledge and storytelling from many cultural and spiritual traditions with impressive direct international experience in human rights and peace work, new science and dialogue practice.
Judith Thompson has been engaged in projects promoting social healing for close to four decades, working primarily with survivors of war and political violence. Her research interests have focused on how compassion arises in the process of social healing, and she written and lectured on this topic worldwide.
In 1984, Thompson co-founded Children of War, Inc., an award-winning international youth leadership organization that supported the vision and leadership of young activists from 22 war-torn countries. Thompson has also helped to develop social healing programs in Israel/Palestine and Cambodia and, for the past few years, has worked closely with indigenous elders from North, Central, and South America who are seeking to support worldwide social and ecological healing through their traditional ceremonies. Thompson is a longtime board member of the Center for Psychology and Social Change affiliated with Cambridge Hospital, co-chairs the Spirit and Human Rights initiative funded by the Fetzer Institute, and is on the Advisory Board of One by One, Inc., an organization dedicated to bringing second-generation Holocaust survivors together for dialogue and healing. Ms. Thompson was recipient of the Bunting Peace Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and the International Peace Prize of the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation.