Coming in from the cold
... then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13.12
The apostle Paul looks forwards to being in a relationship where he and the one being related to (in this case God) are mutually aware of each other - at the deepest level. Where does that longing come from, if it is not built into the way we are? If we are made for relationship and hold that as our ultimate desire, why do we train our children to be independent - both in thought and behaviour - while continuing to build walls of separation throughout our own lives?
Philosopher John Macmurray would argue that it is the consequence of hostile experience in our formative years. After being born into the embrace of our mothers or substitute care-givers, we make our way further into society through active relationships with our surroundings and with those around us. At this stage life is a playful experiment of wonder and discovery. But what happens we encounter hostility and pain?
Instinctively we withdraw. And then we reflect. And we start forming memory banks of situations and people to be avoided. This is compounded by an education system which trains us to think objectively about the world and to concentrate on our own development and advancement. Before we know it, the warm embrace of our early years has been replaced by cold objectivity: self against the world.
The process can be exacerbated and accelerated by adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs as they have become known). But instead of addressing these as symptomatic of a deeper need for healing our entire worldview, ACEs are addressed as handicaps to be overcome, so the individual concerned can compete on equal terms in the rat-race of post-modern life. Would it not be in all of our better interests to change course altogether so that, rather than simply rehabilitating those who are struggling, we pursue reconciliation for all?