Almost everyone agrees that on the verge of the twenty-first century we are at the stage of enormous evolutionary potential or at the door of doom. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes and Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities have said it all before. Yet, in fact, never before have humans faced so many crisis at one time-pollution, population explosion, destruction of the ozone layer, doubt, disaster and despair. If we then add the new technological thresholds in physics, communications, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and the revolutionary conceptual models of science, we have a volatile mixture converging at the threshold of the last years of this century.
Perhaps nowhere is the evolutionary mystery more paradoxical than in the difference that exists between the historical development of humans and human beings themselves. We belong to a uniquely gifted species and yet often our actions appear to be insane. Violence, war, disaster, terrorism, are served up on CNN as our daily fare. Often people feel lonely, anxious, and alienated. There is a growing notion that somewhere humans have taken a wrong turn. Division and separation must certainly be the primary affliction of Homo Sapiens. There are over three hundred religions, cults, subcults, and sects throughout the world. The priests, pundits and politicians of these various groups have exacted an awful recompense in human suffering. The world is divided by over two hundred nations and languages. We watch as whole populations die of neglect or systematic starvation as if these were norms of human behavior. We are able to treat other nations, races or groups as inhuman objects or as a collection of numbers. The world is spending almost two million dollars a minute to keep the people of our planet apart.
Yet after thousands of years of pain and suffering it still does not often occur to many in the western world that no child would ever be born without Earth/Nature/Existence providing the place for birth to happen. The simplest extension of this understanding is that we are not separated from Earth, and not even a part of the Earth but that we are the Earth. As Chief Seattle said in 1853, in his now famous Address:
This we know. The earth does not belong to man. Man belong to the earth. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. Man does not weave the web of life he is merely a strand on it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.
It may be that in the future we will begin to recognize other realities which are not based on our current models of certainties nor even contingencies, but on "emptiness, timelessness and probabilities." We are right in the middle of this transition period, when the old is still very powerful and often still controlling ordinary awareness. But the new glides in, still very unassuming and unnoticed-so unnoticed that externally it disturbs very little and is virtually imperceptible in the consciousness of most people. But the changes are working and growing.
In his book Crazy Wisdom, Wes Nisker says that, "Some adventurous cultural anthropologists and historians believe that the emergence of mysticism, feminism and ecology and the reclamation of ancient wisdom is the human species' attempt to regain equilibrium"-to that list I would add the increasing global awareness of pre- and perinatal psychology. Einstein maintained that, "Wonder is the basis of all seeking." As a part of that wondering exploration this issue of the Journal presents some of the international research and experience which is helping to create a new and world-wide equipoise of birth.
Benig Mauger, who is a Jungian psychotherapist from Ireland, describes Childbirth as Initiation and Transformation: The Wounded Mother. Hilary Monk, a childbirth educator and midwife from Toronto, Canada writes on Obstetric Anesthesia Abuse: Delivering Us from Evil. Rosario N. Rozada Montemurro, who would like to thank Dr. David Chamberlain for his extensive help in the preparation of her paper, Singing Lullabies to Unborn Children: Experiences in Village Vilamarxant, Spain, is also a midwife with the maternal education program in the health center she describes. Dr. Pier Luigi Righetti with ANEP-the National Association for Prenatal Education in Italy, investigates in a preliminary report, The Emotional Experience of the Fetus, the prenatal ego states "that make the newborn capable of distinguishing between the different emotional states" of the mother.
Nisker, Wes "Scoop" (1990). Crazy Wisdom. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. Seattle, Chief (1853). His Address.
Ruth J. Carter, Ph.D.
Georgia College & State University