Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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We all are the crew
Thursday January 01, 2009


Dear Ms. Miller, Your work and your insightfulness on the fragility and lost wonderment of childhood has always touched me deeply and has--perhaps paradoxically--given me hope for humankind. We seem to be at a crossroads in our planetary survival. I know full well that has become a cliche at this point, but would not the pervasiveness of such a growing consensus point to a growing and new mythic understanding of the abyss we see and the glimpse of a bridge to either build or (re-) discover to cross that abyss? Thanks in part to your lifetime of engagement, I have come to be convinced that ALL of our challenges today are ultimately rooted in childhood abuse (acknowledged or not) acting out this childhood pain and frustration on ourselves and others. My sense is that people have always dimly been aware of this vicious cycle but now I am hopeful that more and more of us are expanding our growing awareness to be able to see from the personal to the universal. A metaphor is that we are all in the same aircraft, all listening to the same muzak on the overhead, all seeing and studying ourselves and our other fellow passengers in an urgent and fresh way. Enough of a "tipping point" has been reached so that everyone of us is finally starting to realize the craft we are riding in has dangerous mechanical problems.My main point in the allegory is that by necessity none of us are passengers anymore. Everybody's crew. Historically and culturally this has always been the case but a growing awareness of crisis and an ultimate timeline is the differece now. Communication and interdependency are by necessity now front and center. And I know I run the risk of "magical thinking" here that prevents me from ignoring the attendant seriousness of what my personal responsibility (now tied by my awareness of a collective accountability/responsibility. I guess my question to you is, do you see or even hope for the same trend? Could we all be "hardwired" for the possibility of an ultimate grasp of our problem and some strategies for solutions (and having the process accelerated by our growing planetary proximity to each other? In short, do you see "hope" that there could be a possible but not so obvious evolutionary path out of our dilemma? I would be grateful if you could find the time to address my opinions and concerns here in a critical way. Personally, I need all the new tools I can get. With great respect,

AM: You write: "My main point in the allegory is that by necessity none of us are passengers anymore. Everybody's crew." I agree with you. But to become aware of the fact that our obedience learned in childhood doesn't allow us to think freely needs probably more than many hundred years. I am not sure if the tortured planet leaves us the necessary time to understand this fact, to protest against it, and to become a conscious, responsible member of the crew.

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