Set against a background of hugely irrational social dysfunction and restlessness, the essence of the book concerns the ideal of people growing into a sufficient wholeness, integration and contentment in their identity. This requires all of us to take due account of each component of our personality (body, intellect, soul-spirit, emotion, and creativity) and intentionally nurturing these. Then, at each life-stage, we may function better as healthy citizens in family and community settings, being effective as role models, mentors and leaders in varied levels and contexts.
The book therefore challenges us to take our whole nature seriously as individuals, within the reality of our social, physical and emotional inter-dependence. It calls for new vision, in particular amongst educators, parents and others in the caring professions, including politicians, warning that without new enlightenment upon our relationships, with self, other, society and the environment, our highly unstable social ecologies will remain grossly inefficient, and swiftly become unsustainable.
After noting that 'future shock' has arrived, the first part of the book is devoted to outlines of 'the natural nature of persons', the 'givens' of the human situation. The second part focuses upon practical aspects of policy renewal that can offer grounded hope for more people attaining 'a good life', living and loving authentically in community.
Two helpful summarizing appendices are provided on 'mentoring' and on 'human attachment', themes which feature throughout the main text.
In their relaxed, uncomplicated, wise and spiritually illuminating conversations, the authors lead readers through implicit underlying questions of meaning and purpose in human life with sensitivity. Helpfully, they refer engagingly to their own problematic experiences of 'getting a life'. Matters of spirituality and faith are discussed with compassion and without dogma, noting that, without some understanding of our selves, including matters of brain and emotional development, 'religious beliefs' that lose sight of our basic need to receive, give and propagate 'reliable love' can be more of a problem than a solution within contemporary human living.