"And then I remember a story my friend deborah the psychologist told me once. Back in the 1980s, she was asked by the city of Philadelphia if she could volunteer to offer psychological counseling to a group of Cambodian refugees -boat people- who had recently arrived in the city. Deborah is an exceptional psychologist, bit she was terribly daunted by this task. These Cambodians had suffered the worst of what humans can inflict on each other -genocide, rape, torture, starvation, the murder of their relatives before their eyes, then long years in refugee camps and dangerous boat trips to the West where people died and corpses were fed to sharks -what could Deborah offer these people in terms of help? How could she possibly relate to their suffering?
"But don´t you know," Deborah reported to me, "what all these people wanted to talk about, once they could see a counselor?"
It was all: I met this guy when I was living in the refugee camp, and we fell in love. I thought he really loved me, but then we were separated on different boats, and he took up with my cousin. Now he´s married to her, but he says he really loves me, and he keeps calling me, and I know I should tell him to go away, but U still love him and I can´t stop thinking about him. And I don´t know what to do...
This is what we are like. Collectively, as a species, this is our emotional landscape. I met an old lady once, almost one hundred years old, and she told me, "There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? And Who´s in charge?" Everything else is somehow manageable."