OUR INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS, especially those with our friends and lovers, are at the heart of much of our lives – the source of much turbulence, growth, inspiration and joy. Yet as central as they are, we often treat them like a separate world, what we call our "private lives," somehow isolated from the "larger" issues of world peace, ecological sustainability, etc.
Nothing could be more disastrously deceptive. For most people the primary place where "global change" and "social stress" are actually experienced is in their "private lives" – that’s why our relationships are now in such turmoil! At the same time, the influence flows the other way as well. How we are with each other casts our votes for how we want relationships between all aspects of the planetary culture to be.
In this issue of IN CONTEXT, we want to open up this private/public connection, draw on the growing experience of how relationships can work in our changing world, and look beyond the turmoil of today toward what these primary relationships might be like in a humane sustainable culture.
We can get some clues for this exploration by recalling (from past issues) likely social characteristics of a humane sustainable culture. Some features are already a reality, at least in parts of the world, and include:
- typical lifetimes of 70 or more years,
- stable populations, fewer children, and less adult time spent on child raising, and
- global travel and communications.
Other features are increasingly recognized as essential for planetary survival, such as:
- the end of war and organized violence as a way of resolving conflicts,
- a shift from resource consumption to conservation, and thus a shift from production to maintenance in the economy,
- more economic stability and security, and
- less adult time spent on "earning a living."
What might this feel like personally? Probably very satisfying. With the two historically greatest threats to our survival – economic and political insecurity – impinging less on our lives, we will be freer to explore more of our full human potential. With no one role (such as breadwinner or mother) dominating our lives, we will experience ourselves as whole persons with an identity that transcends any role we might pass through. With conservation more important than production, we will seek our fulfillment in largely non- economic ways.
This all suggests that we will have more energy for and more interest in our relationships. Giving these more attention, we can expect a greater depth and greater breadth – a greater maturity in the quality of our relationships and, like a mature eco-system, a richer mutually beneficial diversity of forms and styles.
Fortunately, these qualities aren’t something we have to wait to experience. The articles in this issue reflect many facets of these themes of maturity and diversity, and illustrate how they are being lived now.
The creation of this issue has also reflected these themes, for it has had the largest and most involved group of guest editors of any IN CONTEXT issue. Monica Wood, Vicki Robin, Rhoda Walter, Evy McDonald and Joe Dominguez of the UV Family (whose story appears later in this issue) and Richard Gossett (Pastoral Counselor, Methodist minister, and soon-to-be father of his third child) have worked with diligence and enthusiasm on gathering and refining what follows. Their efforts have been a heartfelt gift. You’re in for a treat.