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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

Is Humanity Driving Itself Extinct?

How meaningful coincidences can help humankind recognize climate change threats.

 

Key Points

  • Like someone in denial of their addiction, human beings are denying the reality of climate change.

  • Perhaps, if we consider each human as part of a Collective Human Organism (CHO), we can proceed in a more unified way.

  • Synchronicity and serendipity can help to create a psychotherapy for the CHO.

 

A living frog, so the parable goes, is placed in a pot of water that is being slowly heated. If the frog is put into boiling water, it will jump out. If the frog is put in tepid water which is then slowly brought to a boil, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The frog in the slow boil represents humanity denying being slowly heated by global warming. Unlike the helpless frog, we are turning up the heat on ourselves.

Nowhere to go

Earth is our home. Settlements on Mars remain problematic given the toxins to humans perchlorate in the ever-present Martian dust. Other extra-terrestrial locations remain fanciful. If locations can be found, billions of people will be left behind.

We live here. Our home is being excessively heated. Glaciers are melting, deserts are expanding, heat waves and wildfires are becoming more common. Unlike the frog, humanity has no place to jump.

Our Collective Human Organism

The Collective Human Organism-separate and a part of the whole (Source: With full permission of Dhamindra Jeevan who created this)

The Covid virus and the internet increasingly show that we are interdependent with each other. With modest extrapolation we can conclude that human beings constitute one living being, the Collective Human Organism (CHO). Each of us is as distinct as a heart or brain or liver each of which is intimately connected to the body as each of us is connected to the CHO. article continues after advertisement Like someone struggling with addiction, the CHO is trashing its home, draining its resources to feed our voracious appetite to consume. How will the CHO recognize its need to change?

The Stages of Change

The Prochaska and DiClemente (1983) stages of change model has been utilized in the treatment of many addictive problems. The five stages include: precontemplation (not even ready to contemplate change), contemplation (thinking about change), preparation (working through what it would look like, how it would work), action (doing it), and maintenance (steadily doing it). The first step—moving from pre-contemplation to actually thinking about change—looms as the current challenge. Like an alcoholic who has been told about the devastating effects of his drinking, each of us knows we are destroying our home but change is too frightening, too difficult and seems overwhelming. Alcohol drowns out the capacity for introspection (Sher and Epler, 2004). Alcoholics cling to their patterns and fight anyone trying to disrupt them. The CHO also lacks collective introspection, clings to familiar patterns and fights demands for significant change.

When alcoholics realize their need to change, they learn to say, “My name is Adam. I am an alcoholic.” Can our CHO say, “My name is Humanity. I am addicted to constant material consumption.” Both the alcoholic and the CHO need to scan their minds and the environment to notice the destruction they are causing.

Turmoil and synchronicity

In times of turmoil, synchronicities increase both for the individual (Beitman, 2016) and for the collective (Park, 1963).

The CHO, like many of the humans that comprise it, is also witnessing multiple synchronicities. For example, Covid-19's parasitic infestations of the human body parallel the CHO’s parasitic infestation of planet earth. Like simultaneous independent discoveries (Osborn and Thomas, 1922), can this virus synchronicity along with many other collective synchronicities help the CHO recognize our interdependence with each other and the earth?


Like the alcoholic who is being told the difficult changes he needs to make, humanity is also being told about the arduous road to taming the self-inflicted harms of global warming. But will our CHO contemplate change?

The first step


Each of us is part of a collective living body that is totally dependent on Earth’s beneficence of clean water to hydrate and chlorophyll to manufacture food from sunlight. We can no longer bite the hand that feeds us. Many brilliant plans have been offered for reversing climate change, but they must be collectively implemented. The more quickly we organize our collective selves, the more gradually we can ease into the necessary behaviors to save our habitat. If we wait, climate change will accelerate disruptions and will demand accelerated responses which will add to the disruptions. Each of us is part of the problem and all part of the potential solution. Change begins with recognizing that we are a Collective Human Organism that can decide whether or not human beings will survive.

The Role of Meaningful Coincidences

Throughout human existence coincidences have provided clues to how reality works (Pek, 1994). Through the study of synchronicity and serendipity, new information continues to unfold. Synchronicity and serendipity help each of us to sharpen our self-understanding and can highlight our unique gifts that can be integrated into the functioning of the CHO. As research has shown and numerous case examples illustrate, some meaningful coincidences suggest unrecognized patterns of human interconnectivity. As is done in Alcoholics Anonymous, connection may serve as an antidote to addiction, through connection to other human beings and to a higher power. On both the personal and global level meaningful coincidences can guide those who seek to heal our Collective self by finding our own unique capacities. Meaningful coincidences can connect us to other human beings and a greater consciousness and our place in the functioning of our Collective Human Organism. Perhaps we can use synchronicity and serendipity to develop a Psychotherapy for the Collective Human Organism. (Beitman, 2022)

 

References

  • Harari, Y Sapiens. (2018) A Brief History of Humankind 2018 by Toronto: Signal

  • Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1983). Stages and processes of self-change of smoking: Toward an integrative model of change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51(3), 390–395. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.51.3.390

  • Sher K. J. Epler, AJ (2004) Alcoholic denial: Self-awareness and beyond p 184-212 in Beitman BD and Nair, J Self-awareness deficits in psychiatric patients. New York: WW Norton

  • Beitman, BD (2016) Connecting with Coincidence. Deerfield Beach, Fl: Health Communications

  • Park, George K. (1963) “Divination and Its Social Contexts.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 93, no. 2, [Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Wiley], pp. 195–209, https://doi.org/10.2307/2844242.

  • van Andel, Pek. (1994) “Anatomy of the Unsought Finding. Serendipity: Origin, History, Domains, Traditions, Appearances, Patterns and Programmability.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 no. 2 : 631–48.

  • William F. Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas, (1922)“Are Inventions Inevitable? A Note on Social Evolution,” Political Science Quarterly 37, no. 1 (March 1922): 83–98.

  • Beitman BD (2022) Meaningful Coincidences.: How and why synchronicity and serendipity happen. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions. Release September 13, 2022

 
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