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Editorial: Mass Trauma
Jul 1, 2019

The world has never been free of trouble; yet, today all it takes to be exposed to trauma is to sign into social media. We start our days with news of disasters, be it wildfires in the Amazon, a mass shooting somewhere in the US, immigrants trying to cross the Mediterranean or accumulating at the Mexican border, the salmon dying of heat in Alaska, or a case of sexual harassment – each causing lasting trauma, primarily on the victims but also on all of us who are being indirectly exposed to the news.

One of the groups of people that suffer heavily from trauma are immigrants. In this issue, Dr. Tekin starts his article on trauma with the example of a couple from Iraq, tortured and abused by terrorists who killed their kids. Now, safe and away from the dangers of their home country, the couple cannot overcome their fears and pains, despite now living under a roof and having plentiful food and work. “Mass Trauma, PTSD, and Treatment Options” raises awareness of this epidemic, which is lived at both personal and public levels. Its effects will not only shape our populations, but will also leave indelible marks in our souls. 

Can one way of dealing with trauma and disasters be relevant to “the way we view the world and our place in relation to it”? Robert Howe suggests it is. “Fundamentally, the problem of environmental decline is a malady of tension – between the self, society, and nature,” writes Howe, for whom “the environment’s decline is a sign that modernity is suffering from a crisis of spirituality.” In his “Regenerating Life with Soulcentric Education”, Howe pinpoints the problem as education systems which value academic intelligences because they serve the economic values the system upholds. For him, the contemporary education is “the story of separation” in which humans are divorced from nature and the world by “othering” and “commodifying” them. One solution, for Howe, could be “regenerative education,” which educates healthy, soul-centered adults who understand why they are on Earth, why they were born, and who live with a sense of belonging to the natural and human communities. It is certainly an interesting piece to read and offers a renewed perspective on our lives.

“Turning the Unknown and the Different into the Familiar and the Friendly” by Ellen Michelson offers a second way of dealing with the troubles plaguing our world: interfaith dialogue. Ellen is the editor of The Menorah newsletter of the Congregation B’nai Israel, in New Jersey. She has been an active member of the interfaith community, and, together with the other members of her congregation, she reaches out to other faith groups to promote dialogue and understanding. Her piece offers a humble reading of what can be done today to overcome prejudice and to build a society that respects differences.