The psycho-social vulnerabilities and opportunities of these times

by Bob Schwartz

History is a story of vulnerabilities and opportunities.

Humans are humans, with their natures and tendencies. These can be transcended and modified, but some are deep and abiding. We are, for example, not always inappropriately selfish and seeking comfort.

Those natures and tendencies exist in environments, personal and social. Depending on the circumstances of the moment, these can leave people vulnerable to all sorts of forces, some dark. History is clear that these vulnerabilities can be the ground for all kinds of phenomena, especially when the social environment is more extreme and challenging.

Here we are.

Opportunities for transcendence and transformation, for at least realizing where those natural vulnerabilities might lead, if not resisting them, what are they and where are they?

They are widely available. But. If we are to avoid falling prey to those forces, or if we are to escape in case they are here already, there are a few steps.

Admit that there’s a problem—not just in the circumstances but in ourselves, that we are human and that we are vulnerable.

Realize that there are those who are trying to exploit those vulnerabilities, ostensibly to make things better, even to turn back the clock to a time when things were better, but actually because few things are more human than wanting to dominate and make your ideology the rule of the land.

Try to find and follow a path of transcendence and transformation. This is tricky. Not so long ago, the Nazis were successful at exploiting the vulnerabilities of the German people. But they knew that the Church doctrine of transcendence and transformation, including compassion, was an obstacle. So they co-opted what the Church stood for, leaving Christians feeling comfortable being complicit in the worst perfidy.

Admit the natural human vulnerabilities, realize the unrelenting efforts to exploit those vulnerabilities, try to transcend and transform. That’s it.