Healing This Wounded Earth With Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope: How we may all become catalysts for a happier and more peaceful world
By Eleanor Stoneham
O Books, 2011
292 ps., $24.95
In a time when global ecological, social, and political catastrophes can seem overwhelming and almost hopeless, Eleanor Stoneham, Ph.D., shows how each of us can use our own wounds to heal ourselves, each other, and the Earth. Healing This Wounded Earth is a practical guide to what each of us can and must do to ensure that we and our planet survive.
Dr. Stoneham, a science research post-graduate, financial professional, and verger in the Anglican Church, begins with the root cause of our world’s problems, ourselves. Before we can save the world, she says, we must become “wounded healers” in the tradition of the Greek Chiron or shamans. We must face and heal our own individual emotional and physical wounds and embrace our vulnerability. Only then can we stop turning to violence against other living beings and our planet and use the compassion, wisdom, and empathy that results from being a “wounded healer” in the best accordance with our own individual gifts.
Healing This Wounded Earth comprehensively documents the damage that has already been done to the earth and the billions of people whose lives are filled with violence and poverty. However, Dr. Stoneham also brings together information about ideas, organizations, and leaders who have visions of a different kind of world and efforts that are already underway to make those visions a reality. In particular, she focuses on religion and spirituality, community-building, socially-just economics, “soul medicine” that integrates spiritual well being into health care, and creativity.
Dr. Stoneham’s book is different from many others that highlight only one or another of these strategies because it builds a comprehensive picture of what a world of wounded healers busy healing would be like. She recognizes that each of these elements – religion and spirituality, community, economics, medicine, and creativity – is an aspect of an inter-related wholistic vision and that each must be pursued in concert for our dreams of a happy and peaceful world to be realized.
At the same time, the book is enspirited by Dr. Stoneham’s hopeful, kind, and positive personality. Her individual voice comes through particularly in her insistence that the only way for real healing to take place is for each of us to take individual responsibility. She makes a special point that we cannot rely on governments to do our planet-healing for us because it is only as individuals that we can heal our own wounds to become healers. She notes early on that she writes from the perspective of an Anglican Christian, and her own faith is an integral element of the book. However, she also makes clear that anyone “of good faith,” from atheists to followers of major religions to those who follow a more individualized path, can be an effective wounded healer.
Healing This Wounded Earth is a guidebook to saving the world. Dr. Stoneham’s message is that we can make our world ecologically, socially, politically, culturally, economically, and spiritually sustainable, even flourishing, but only if each of us gets to work now. She lists many, many organizations and movements to join, books to read, and individual actions to take. Everyone can find something, or likely many things, in her pages to do to begin. Hers is a book of hope and faith that, as wounded healers, we each have a place in the effort for global healing that only we can fill and she gives each of us the tools we need to do what we must do.
Review by Carolyn Lee Boyd