What if I were to tell you there is a virus we have all been exposed to that has caused a severe form of psychosis, one that has led to virtually every known disease and form of suffering in the world today?
The virus, called wetiko, was first identified by the indigenous peoples of the Americas and written about by Jack Forbes in Columbus and Other Cannibals. Wetiko is a spiritual sickness that results in the deliberate and systematic exploitation of others. It is considered a form of cannibalism because it compels humans to consume the lives of other humans in pursuit of self-gratification. Worst of all, it is hereditary: it gets passed on from generation to generation through DNA, family tradition, and cultural conditioning.
On May Day, Occupy Wall Street (also International Workers’ Day) initiated its spring campaign, renewing its commitment to end social and economic inequality, greed, and corruption. Occupy Wall Street calls itself the 99%—in essence the ones who are exploited by wetiko’s accumulated wealth. But as we embrace this spring awakening of social consciousness, it is worth asking ourselves who the real enemy is. Is it the 1%, per se? Or is it the wetiko mindset? And if it’s the wetiko mindset, aren’t the 99% just as likely to be infected with it? Don’t we all share the same social programming and self-destructive inclinations? Would the 99% be the 1% ruling elite if they could? Given a choice, who among us would take only what we need?
Don’t get me wrong: I believe the mission of OWS is a noble one. It’s the take-action outcry against destructive social inequalities that our wetiko culture has created, and thank goodness so many people are defending the worth of the human spirit against the gross amassing of wealth! But we will not achieve any semblance of equality until we have cured ourselves of wetiko and moved toward unity consciousness—the understanding that life can thrive only as a whole interconnected web. By the same token, we must defeat the entrenched wetiko dogma that deems equality impossible; that says in order for the world to go round, there must be haves and have-nots. This belief, also known as separation consciousness, is at the root of our modern psychosis.
The problem is that wetiko is a kind of autoimmune psychosis. It does not merely harm that which it exploits; it also causes irrational, self-destructive behavior in its host. Such behavior is manifest in the overconsumption of toxic substances that we think we want and need—including drugs, chemically processed foods, fossil fuels, and insidious media messages—which lead to all manner of physical, psychological, and environmental imbalances. Thus, wetiko wages a powerful assault on the mind, body, and spirit of all who come into contact with it.
In the wetiko world, we seek individual power through the accumulation of goods, namely commodities that the collective group deems valuable. We also seek power by conforming to contemporary fashions—which, of commercial necessity, are always shifting in order to generate new “must-have” looks and products. The lords of wetiko wield ideals of wealth and beauty to control and increase their power over the likewise infected masses. Through advertising, marketing, political lobbying, and other means of mind control, they lure the masses to consume products that promise instant gratification but only leave them feeling empty and craving more.
The good news: wetiko is curable. But the cure must begin with ourselves. No one else can do it for us. Whether we are the 99% or the 1%, we are all on the same unsustainable course. Instead of just pointing the finger at others, we must do our own soul-searching and work to loosen the grip of wetiko on our minds. In order to do this, we must recall everything we know about how nature operates and link forces with it. Only nature’s wisdom has the power to defeat wetiko, which will fight hard to stay alive and keep us hooked into the beliefs that direct our actions, our purchases, our choices—all the consumer habits that have put the 1% in power, toppled our economy, and left us physically and spiritually denatured.
The only social revolution worthy of the human spirit is one that vanquishes wetiko and restores us to a state of true vitality: of thriving, interconnected life and respect for all life. This spring, let’s vow to stop feeding the psychosis with our own complicity. Let’s fight the good fight by opening our minds and hearts to the world and letting our better natures in.