"Free love" remains a problem of social design: This idea is one that I think about all of the time.
On many levels, the current design of our society is a major problem for humanity, as it keeps people trapped in a particular perspective and way of being. Our society is designed to support the nuclear family, the monogamous couple, as reflected in our architecture, legal structures, cultural products, etcetera.
We know the natural state for human beings is not the nuclear family or the monogamous couple, but the tribe, the close-knit community, where all of the generations live together and care for each other, from elders to infants, where childcare is cooperative, where the old have a natural place in the structure of the community, where they may be many forms of partnership but no socially conscripted monogamy. The situation we have inherited is highly artificial, and destructive for the individual.
I believe that we have the responsibility to re-construct our civilization as a planetary tribe, where humanity realizes itself as a unity, a super organism where each cell has its role and receives the support of the entirety. Paradoxically, only in such a condition would each individual be able to realize their own unique truth.
The situation, obviously, isn’t going to change on its own: We require a movement of social consciousness, one that recognizes that issues around our most intimate domains of relationship are actually crucial political areas. These are the areas where liberation, negation, or repression are experienced most profoundly by the individual. The hypocrisy of our public discourse reflects the internal deceptions most people are forced to accept, in order to survive. We can’t “reform” this system - we must create a new operating system that brings about its metamorphosis, from within.
I have lived in NYC my whole life, and I still feel like I am in a kind of prison, held together by “mind forg’d manacles,” by mental constructs that happen to be wrong. At the same time, the level of creative and entrepreneurial brilliance here is unmatched - it is just consistently applied to the wrong purposes, because people don’t think in a comprehensive way. How people behave here, how they construct their lives, remains incredibly feeble, sadly predictable, compared to the kind of creative inspiration and spontaneity that is innate and natural for us. Also the mass of people have been hypnotized to slavishly worship money, worldly power, fame. Personally, I look forward to the next financial crash, or even ecological disaster, as it seems the only way people will snap out of their trance.
Our society seeks to create an artificial oblivion, to make death invisible. I agree with many esoteric traditions that the central goal of our incarnations on Earth should be preparation for the journey into the unknown, into the mystery, that is death. According to these traditions, we do this by strengthening our soul capacities - by embracing what is difficult and necessary, by sacrificing lesser egocentric goals for greater social ones. This is the path that Christ walked, and why he remains an archetype for us (he didn’t “save our souls” through his sacrifice, but modeled a way of being without compromise). Gurdjieff called it “conscious labor” and “intentional sacrifice.” He also noted, “People are asleep.”
If we would like to liberate the power of love to redeem and elevate humanity, then we must make that our continual occupation, not something we do in our off hours, by meditating or occasionally donating to charity. We would have to stop kidding ourselves, and cease pretending. Since we don’t seem able to do this on our own, perhaps we will get lucky, and a series of catastrophes will force us to change, without annihilating us.
When will come the time when we can truly live?
You don’t need to experience financial meltdowns, ecological disasters, or man-made catastrophes for one to extend him/herself to beyond his/her “call of duty.” I believe this really depends on the kind of culture or environment that one grows up in.
In more developing countries such as the Philippines, there really is a social consciousness to extend that “Free Love” beyond the traditional family unit. I’ve known of people within my own circle who have made it their purpose in life to promulgate that kind of love to even complete strangers, feeding them, sending their kids to school, building homes for them.. there’s no political will—only that social awareness. It’s amazing to observe this kind of social dynamics here in my country—a far cry from Pinchbeck’s observations in New York City.