A philanthropist asked: "With so many worthy nonprofit organizations and such need, what would you do? Where would you invest ten thousand or ten million dollars, and why?"
The answer, I maintain, depends on depth; treating symptoms or root causes. A person bleeding after an accident needs immediate attention. Stop the bleeding. Preventing the injury is more complex, more challenging. We need to do both.
Culture is the cause. Self-inflicted suffering and violence is the bleeding. Yes, self-inflected. In a recent interview the Dali Lama observed that we create most of our problems. Physicist David Bohm, protégé of Einstein, put it this way:
We are faced with a breakdown of general social order and human values that threatens stability throughout the world. Existing knowledge cannot meet this challenge. Something much deeper is needed, a completely new approach. I am suggesting that the very means by which we try to solve our problems is the problem. The source of our problems is within the structure of thought itself.
Collectively what Bohm calls thought expresses as Culture. Culture is our semantic-reality, the conditioned memories triggered by words, mental, emotional and physical images and our identification with these images. The culturally induced inner image we believe we are and the outer image we call culture emanate from the same root. Both are images. Both are, at close examination, the same. This insight is both obvious and profound. The difference between our personal image of self and the outer image we call culture is defined only by which end of the telescope we are viewing, near or far, inner or outer. The root of our personal and global conflict emanates from this image.