What is Humanity’s Greatest Weakness?

A lot of experts tend to blame social problems on the cruelty, malice, and ignorance of other people. For instance, the materialistic and selfish aspects of contemporary life are often blamed on a financial elite that has been pursuing its narrow self-interest.

Author and scholar Tony Judt says as much in his new book, Ill Fares the Land (Penguin Press, 2010). Much of today’s social dysfunction is not inherent in the human condition, he writes. It dates from the 1980s and includes an obsession with wealth creation and privatization. These developments featured a growing disparity between rich and poor, uncritical admiration for unfettered markets, disdain for the public sector, and the delusion of endless growth.

These changes Judt mentions did indeed occur over the last three decades. Nevertheless, the author is wrong on a critical point: it was a weakness in the human condition that facilitated these undesirable changes. This problem may be humanity’s greatest weakness, though the substance of that weakness remains unrecognized by most experts and observers.

Humankind is still strongly under the influence of a psychological condition called inner passivity. I describe this condition in detail in my book, The Phantom of the Psyche: Freeing Ourself From Inner Passivity. The book explains why inner passivity, which produces self-defeat, is an inherent and universal human weakness. Inner passivity is a result of a lack of self-awareness. It refers to our inner state of nonbeing, the inner zone of dissociation, that is the central aspect of our subordinate or unconscious ego.

As a result of this psychological condition, the inner critic or superego has free rein to dominate one's psyche and even one's personality. With inner passivity, the individual is not in touch with his or her inner authority--that connection to one's essential goodness that is known as the self or authentic self.

Because of inner passivity, people fail to hold political and economic leaders to account. Through our passivity we allowed the corruption of national life to occur. As individuals, we were not sufficiently in touch with our essential goodness to stop the rise of the military-industrial complex. In our disconnect from ourself, we came under the influence of materialism and selfishness, and we lost ourselves in the pursuit of its false promises.

Inner passivity, which affects men and women equally, is much more than just our difficulty in standing up for our rights. It is complex and mysterious, concealed in our psyche beneath feelings of being helpless, overwhelmed, indecisive, and defensive. Ultimately, it is a symptom of our lack of evolvement.

Inner passivity plays a role in procrastination, failure, and addictive and compulsive behaviors. It is a factor in hundreds of symptoms, including anxiety, worry, fear, anger, and depression.

Our inner passivity facilitates and enables our aggressive inner critic. The primary inner conflict in many individuals is between inner passivity and inner aggression. When we expose inner passivity in our psyche, we overthrow the negative, irrational inner critic. Now our true self can emerge, and with it the establishment of inner mastery along with, on a national level, a united, conscious citizenry.

Free of inner passivity, we acquire the power to recognize truth and to be able to champion it in our family, community, and nation.