Who’s going to save you? Think about it. Are you waiting on, or expecting that somebody or something is coming to save you and solve your problems? The truth is most of us are. Whether it’s big things, like protect us from COVID-19, or smaller things, like making the changes to our habits and routines we know will improve our health, too many people are waiting.
And what would that be? Who or what are people waiting for?
And not just one messiah, but a litany. Because that is what we have become.
A messianic society.
Listening to a podcast recently, but as is often the case in the background as I go about the day, that phrase – “messianic society” – refocused all of my attention. It was jarring, both because of its truth as well as its repercussions. And because we are a messianic society we have taken to leaning on a myriad of messianic crutches. Which has left us in a morass of searching for answers and solutions outside of ourselves. We have consciously but mostly unconsciously both wittingly and willingly surrendered both our individual power and agency in both a futile and fatiguing chase for the next book, YouTube video, injection, doctor, guru, lover, pill, person, place or president to deliver us from our problems and pains.
Or as the podcast speaker Pedram Shojai puts it…
“Help me, save me, whether it’s oh lord, or oh doctor, or oh police, we have given our god given agency over to different professions and different sectors in society.”
But this is chasing a mirage in the desert. You never get to the oasis. To salvation. Because you are your salvation. You are who you are waiting for. Yes, the books and videos, people and praying etc… have their place. We are not islands, we must stay surrounded and learn and grow from the resources, persons and places available to us. There is power and humility in having faith in forces greater than ourselves. But not to the point we relinquish our nexus of control. Not to the point where it is expected or assumed that something or somebody else is going to make it all better.
Or as Pedram Shojai puts it…
“You have to wake up the fact that you are ultimately responsible”.
And this is where we find ourselves, leaning onto messianic crutches in our messianic society. Where “the doctor is the arbiter of all things health”, where we must get the thumbs up about anything and everything related to our health or the health of our family from said messiah, never mind the fact that many doctors haven’t been to medical school in decades, spent less than half a day on nutrition, endlessly prescribe antibiotics, only listen to their patients for 11 seconds, are confined to self-reinforcing echo chambers of thought and practices, are afraid to do or say anything novel or controversial that may see them thrown off of the ivory towers, have been corrupted by pharmaceutical corporations and that it takes on average seventeen years for data to honestly show the efficacy or inefficacy, help or harm of treatments to manifest into the day to day practice of the doctor’s office, resulting in a frightening 40% of present day medical practices being deemed they should no longer be in use.
Which is neither to demonise all doctors nor single them out. Much of this is done with good intention, and they are victims as much as anyone of ignorance and systemic corruption. Plus, this manner of crutch is everywhere. We keep hoping the next president will keep us ‘safe’. The next scientist will save us. Or some new organisation will. All despite the ceaseless failings of the people and institutions who rule over us. For all the enormous amounts of money and time dedicated to healthcare, or rather sickcare, societies are more chronically ill than ever before despite the gigantic investment in science, healthcare and technology since the Industrial Revolution.
Furthermore, none of this is to disparage individuals. Life has become extremely complex, confusing and demanding. Our time, mind and energy is scattered around the million and one things we ‘need’ to do. These messianic crutches have, as Pedram Shojai says, been “imprinted into our consciousness” at such an early age that we continue “thrashing around in the white waters of the matrix”.
And whilst these may be reasons they are not excuses. Believe me, I know. I leaned hard and heavy on these crutches and their accompanying excuses. Which took me down a brutally hard and long journey of sickness and sadness. But like a mentor of mine told me about three years ago as I was hopelessly grasping onto my this-person-will-save-me crutch, “okay, now what?” As in okay yes, life is hard, it brings suffering, but now what are you going to do about it? How are you going to change it? When are you going to assume responsibility for where you are going, who you want to be and the kind of life you want to life?
Or as Pedram Shojai puts it…
“It’s time to take your focus and attention back because this is a crisis of consciousness. We are just not awake to what is happening around us, so we keep falling for the same things because it’s a symptom of the same problem – looking for answers outside [of us]. Oh doctor, tell me what to do.”
It’s foolish and naïve to deny we are subject to greater conditions and circumstances around us. But as the Stoics say “do what you must, let happen what may”. It is up to everyone of us – you – to stop the bleeding of our own consciousness and attention. We must stop offering so much to the aspects of our lives we cannot control (the messianic crutch) and begin to muster our energy and efforts onto what we can. As the sage Viktor Frankl says, it is the last of the human freedoms to choose one’s attitude, to choose one’s own way and to accept that when we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves. This has certainly been true throughout human history but it is also certainly critical to apply now in these most uncertain and unpredictable of times.
Which needn’t mean that life be walked alone or unassisted. It’s all about choosing your walking mates consciously, discerningly and wisely. It’s about agency, and that a true mentor or coach will never take yours away from you. That’s the old, tired messianic paradigm – if you trust me I will save you. It’s time to step into the now, the partnership paradigm – if you choose to trust in me I will show you that you can save yourself.
Because it is only once we have strengthened, fortified and nourished ourselves that we will find the freedom and power of walking on our two feet empowered enough to move through life without need for crutches.
Pedram Shojai quotes are sourced from – Chris Kresser Revolutionary Health Radio: Bringing Focus, Attention and Energy Back to Your Life with Pedram Shojai