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A systems approach to people care

Human Nature

Consciousness, in the sense of self-awareness, seems to be the characteristic of human nature. Now, if this consciousness arises from our relationships with other human beings, our humanity will unfold increasingly with the increasing variety and richness of these relationships. In other words, the experience of ourselves, our self-actualization, can be brought forth only with the help of others.

The insight that our true nature arises from our relationships to others, does not only apply to us humans but also to all other living beings and, I would say, even to patterns of inanimate matter. As I mentioned before, the shift from objects to relationships is a key element of the new paradigm in all the sciences.

However, what makes us humans special is, among other things, that we have developed the ability of abstract thinking. This has brought us in addition to our great intellectual achievements also the tendency to separate ourselves from nature and to become ever more fragmented personalities. in order to regain our full humanity we have to regain the experience of being connected with the cosmos, with all of living nature. This reconnecting, religio in Latin, is the root of the word "religion" and is to me the very essence of spirituality.

According to David Steindl~Rast, a Benedictine monk who also has a Ph D. in psychology , our peak experiences, the moments when we feel most alive, when we experience ourselves in the deepest way as persons, are moments of belonging. They are moments of relationship to other human beings, to the whole living world. These moments, according to Steindle-Rast are moments of true spirituality.

From Fritjof Kapra:  course notes for "The Systems View of Life" Schumacher College / Elmwood Institute 1993. (Forerunner of a series of insightful books published more recently.)

The Interdependence of World Problems

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