A couple years ago a local newspaper had a series of articles on heroin use in our area. Opoid use was and still is on a sharp rise, leading to an occasional death through overdose. I was saddened by this news because it made clear to me that many people suffer from hopelessness, lack of direction and lack of meaning. Living in a society which is entirely built on material values and the pursuit of happiness through self enjoyment and explotation will indeed bring any half-way sane human being to the brink of desparation and depression.
The drug problem was and is simply the tip of an iceberg of emotional suffering that stems from an instinctive recognition of the disparity between an increasingly misguided and disfunctional global society and the vision of how societal life could flow harmoniously and sustainably. While it was never my intention to address drug problems directly, I felt that it was possible on a local level, and in a small but not insignificant arena, to show a way out of this mess by cultivating a 'I can do this' attitude. My own understanding is that this requires practical knowhow of basic skills that are connected with the basics needs for food, shelter and energy. But in addition and at least equally importnant is the need to develop inner skills that enable us to understand our inner emotional and intellectual processes better. These mostly invisible skills prove invaluable when cooperation with other people is part of the picture. This merging of very practical life skills and inner or auto-psychological skills is one of the core principles of the Skills-for-Life program and concept.
Many people and organizations address the glaring problems of the world, be it psychological problems or problems of resource plundering or polution or social injustice in their own way. However the SFL team understands the problems of the world firstly as problems of the human psyche. Greed and the wish to dominate, for example, are deeply rooted within all of us. Thus the emphasis on self-study. If one has reached the conclusion that I too am greedy and power thirsty, I too am dispersed in my thoughts and wasteful in my behaviour, then one has reached the starting line where change can become possible. Studying oneself through introspection, and impartial self observation through meditation and inner exercises, are then meaningful activities to gather needed self-knowledge. This indirect approach to addressing the needs of the future through changing oneself is not new, but but it's practice maybe rare or unpopular. We aim to make it practical and accessible by simultaneously working on the outer visible problems of polution and mindless taking and wasting, and the inner problems of finding one's own direction and obtaining a clearer picture of who I am and why am I here.