What’s up with this death-grip and fear of scarcity? People are terrified that they will lose their jobs, their homes, and not be able to take care of their families. This grip of fear permeates everything, and the media makes it painfully clear that we should be afraid, and that we have everything to loose. This panic causes people to hoard their resources and look out for themselves, with generosity being seen as naïve. It causes corporations to cut wages and cut corners, making decisions purely based on financial results, without caring for the planet or the people. Rather than healthy capitalist competition, we have a system which rewards heartlessness and inhumanity. In short, the panic itself causes exactly what it was afraid of. It is a self perpetuating prophecy which results in poverty and economic disasters.
Bernard Lietaer, the distinguished economist, suggested that this fear is a result of the suppression of the Great Mother archetype in our culture. The following quote is from an interview with Sarah Van Gelder.
“[The Great Mother] has been violently repressed in the West for at least 5,000 years starting with the Indo-European invasions – reinforced by the anti-Goddess view of Judeo-Christianity, culminating with three centuries of witch hunts – all the way to the Victorian era.
If there is a repression of an archetype on this scale and for this length of time, the shadows manifest in a powerful way in society. After 5,000 years, people will consider the corresponding shadow behaviors as “normal.” The question I have been asking is very simple: What are the shadows of the Great Mother archetype? I’m proposing that these shadows are greed and fear of scarcity”
But it’s not only the economy that has been affected on such a fundamental level by this collective psychology, we have to look a little closer to home at matters of the heart to see another core aspect of our culture which has also fallen victim to it’s influence. Supposedly one of the building blocks of our society is the nuclear family- it is cherished and protected, voraciously guarded by governments. We are told that family values underpin the morality of the nation, and that in order to find happiness we must find a partner, get married, and forsake all forms of sexual intimacy with everyone but that partner for the rest of our lives. As divorce statistics show, this is not an easy task. Even with all the cultural support for this model, it still fails 50% of the time.
There is a fear that love is scarce. That when you find it you have to hold on to it, put it in a box and save it all for yourself. The perception is that there is a finite amount of love available, and that if you keep it under lock and key it will be safe. If you don’t guard your love then you might be the one who ends up out in the cold. With divorce rates so high, the panic becomes greater. You must hold on even tighter, work even harder at making your marriage work. And if it fails, then you, in turn, are a failure. The heart is a powerful thing, and when high emotions are mixed with this shadow of scarcity reaching like a dark cloud across our culture, people become gripped with fear. When you imagine love as a finite thing, it makes sense that you would want to have total control over how your partner loves. If there is a finite amount of love and it is given to someone else then you will get less as a result. There are some couples who believe that even platonic love can be damaging to a relationship, and they don’t allow their partners to have close friends. Wives stare territorially across the room if their husband so much as talks to another woman, and a frightened husband might even lash out with violence if he believes his wife’s friendships are getting too close. People have become like cornered animals in their own hearts- their survival instinct kicks in, leaving them incapable of dealing with their emotions. When love is seen as scarce, the world becomes a very scary place.
My personal experience of love has never been this way, and am lucky enough to have only ever seen it as infinitely abundant. I have my upbringing and my curious life path to thank for my release from this cultural hypnosis. If I love one person it does not detract from my love for another person. I experience an endless font of love to draw from. When I was a small child I remember asking my mother who she loved most, me or my sister. She replied that she didn’t love either of us more or less, but that she loved us differently. She told me to consider love to be like the colors of the rainbow, where loving one person green and one person pink doesn’t mean you love them more, but just that your love is different, and one does not take away from the other. As you can probably tell, my mother’s influence played an integral role in my young mind understanding this perspective.
This idea that love is abundant widens the realm of possibility for relationships, and reveals monogamy to be only one option in a spectrum of relationship models. But the pressure in our culture to conform to a monogamous model is so extreme most people don’t even know there are any other options available to them. The practice of polygamy (marrying more than one person) is not only frowned upon, it’s illegal in every state in America. Where cheating, lying and divorcing is broadly accepted as inevitable, the idea of actually negotiating with love and honesty is totally taboo!
But the truth is there are all kinds of options available, and most of them are legal in most states. Even within monogamy there is a variety of options- at one end of the spectrum there is the totally closed monogamy where you attempt to have all your emotional needs met by one person, and at the other is a more open monogamy where you don’t feel threatened by close same sex friendships, and you might even explore being sexual with your partner in the same room as other couples, or the most daring might even allow their partner to kiss other people. At this point there is a blurry line- although you are still technically being monogamous, there is a sense of exploration and a fearlessness which allows you to be more experimental. Once you step outside the realm of monogamy, the options broaden further into the territory of open relationships. Some couples allow another person into their relationship, bringing in a third who they both interact with, but only together as a couple. Some couples like to have relationships with another couple, in the classic “wife swapping” model. You might allow your partner to go out on a date, but ask them to come home by a certain time. Or perhaps even negotiate full, enriching, loving relationships with an attitude of openness and trust. At the far end of the spectrum are people who don’t believe in one on one partnerships, who have a fluid and changing set of relationships which they move through with negotiation, consent and honesty.
There are so many options, and in a world not gripped with the fear of scarcity, relationships would be as varied as the people within them, rather than limited to one dominant paradigm. Once you start to release the taboos around homosexuality and gender definition things start to get even more interesting, but that’s a story for another post. Suffice to say, there are an infinite amount of opportunities and options for those with an open minded, abundantly loving heart.