Archetype in Action Organization
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Wake Up Calls!
- Created on 22 December 2014
- Last Updated on 22 December 2014
- Published on 22 December 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 185
“But what happened to my day? Torches were kindled, bloody anger and disputes erupted. As darkness seized the world, the terrible war arose and the darkness destroyed the light of the world, since it was incomprehensible to the darkness and good for nothing anymore. And so we had to taste Hell.
“I saw which vices the virtues of this time changed into, how your mildness became hard, your goodness became brutality, your love became hate, and your understanding became madness. Why did you want to comprehend the darkness! But you had to or else it would have seized you. Happy the man who anticipates this grasp.
“Did you ever think of the evil in you? Oh, you spoke of it, you mentioned it, and you confessed it smilingly, as a generally human vice, or a recurring misunderstanding. But did you know what evil is, and that it stands precisely right behind your virtues, that it is also your virtues themselves, as their inevitable substance? You locked Satan in the abyss for a millennium, and when the millennium had passed, you laughed at him, since he had become a children’s fairy tale. But if the dreadful great one raises his head, the world winces. The most extreme coldness draws near.” [The Red Book by C.G. Jung, P. 274; Reader’s Edition P. 265. Note: In this passage, Dr. Jung was writing about World War I.]
During our holiday season, when gifts are the order of the day, I wish for Americans a new Moral Compass. The ones too many Americans are using seem defective.
Recently the so-called “Torture Report” has been the topic of the day. There have been many who justify torture of our enemies as if it is a matter of degree. It is not! They say things like, “What’s a little water boarding, when the enemy is beheading people?” A statement like that is a psychological attempt to cast off the guilt that is experienced in the unconscious psyche.
Another favorite is, “It was legal at the time we did it!” Such arguments were rejected by the civilized world at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Rather than allow it to pass, we Americans need to examine ourselves, and see if our own Moral Compass is defective.
If we believe our country’s PR, that it is the “greatest country in the world,” then we need to recognize that there is a moral component to that characterization, which has become somewhat tarnished in recent years. A Moral Compass is essential, if our country can lead humanity into a new era. A Moral Compass is essential if we can rightfully claim that we are “One Nation Under God.” If one would argue that is not the case, then we must infer that God is immoral.
Leaving aside the moral issues, there are two very practical reasons why torture is a really bad strategy for gaining critical intelligence. The immediate problem is the reliability of the information obtained. When someone is put under the duress of torture, they will do or say whatever it takes to get out of their situation.
If your prisoner is your committed enemy, and they know something that might help you prevent some horrible event, they will more likely than not give you false information. This information may seem useful, and you may act on it, but when you do, you may commit a large number of assets to preventing an incident that is not going to happen, while taking your focus away from an operation that is happening.
Mind you, this is not an argument against interrogation in its proper forms. Also, it is to be noted that all national actors on the world stage use information from many different sources to create intelligence about their enemies. Interrogation is only one of the tools.
Secondly, when torture is exposed, the probability is that you will create many new enemies. Who can doubt that the Abu Ghurab torture disclosure, with photographs seen by billions of people, created tens of thousands of new enemies for the United States? That’s not a very good way to win a war!
As we have seen in recent news cycles, these new enemies can operate as individuals, without central command. The result can easily be far more death and destruction than you could ever have prevented, even if you succeeded in eliciting true and actionable intelligence from using torture.
The idea that the release of the “Torture Report” was a bad idea is wrong headed, because the fact of torture used by American agencies has long been known. And our enemies already know it far better than the American people do. It is only by acknowledging our mistakes that we can begin to recover our moral leadership in the world.
If we are reduced to the level of bestiality displayed by our enemies, then they have won. They have succeeded in destroying the America that thought of itself as the paragon of moral virtue in the world, rightfully leading the human species into a new era.
By breaking our Moral Compass, we have given our enemies a tool they need to focus the anger of their repressed groups against the United States, rather than at the dire conditions in their own countries, foisted on them by their own rulers. This is nothing new! Even Thucydides, in his History of the Peloponnesian War (5th Century BCE), wrote of the efficacy of using a foreign enemy to control domestic discontent.
But we never seem to learn. Our human reaction always seems to allow the rush of emotion to seek retribution. Channeling our fear and anger is one of the simplest ways for our leaders to distract us from what is really happening in our own society.
There are better ways to fight, and they don’t always have to be with bigger and bigger weapons.
Mind you, this is not the dictum of a pacifist. After 23 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps and a tour of duty in Vietnam, I know well enough that sometimes we have to fight to defend our nation. But Japan and Germany seemed just as evil to Americans before and during World War II. The results since prove that when we used different methods, we turned them into two of our biggest allies.
Even China seemed like an intractable enemy before 1972, and yet today it is one of our biggest trading partners. Despite the rhetoric that sometimes emerges in relatively minor disputes, the fact is that the Chinese could not go to war with the United States without destroying their own country’s economy in the process.
Like creating more enemies than you destroy, that’s not a very good way to win war or world dominance. We must always remember what Mohandas Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
You will not find your Moral Compass at Walmart, K-Mart or Sam’s Club. It is a Gift from the Divine, whether you call the Divine God the Father, Lord and Savior, Allah, Buddha, Shiva, Lakshmi, Yahweh, or Santa Claus. Each of us has this gift, but not everyone has found it or found it in its purest form.
We will only find our Moral Compass if we examine ourselves. It does not come from laws or rules, which emanate from any society. It only comes from the heart of each individual human being. Have you examined your heart during this holiday season?
- Parent Category: Jungian Topics
- Category: Feminine & Masculine
- Created on 20 December 2014
- Last Updated on 21 December 2014
- Published on 20 December 2014
- Written by Jean Raffa
- Hits: 283
Some years ago, a very successful and talented friend of mine began to experience a crisis of meaning. As he became more receptive to his inner life he found himself drawn to Jungian psychology and dreamwork. One night he had the following dream.
An odd chase dream. I am with a woman…no one I know. I am being pursued by a very large bear. I have a thin spear-like stick with which to defend myself. The woman points out to me a very sharp, but very thin and small, piece of metal on the ground. It is like a piece of broken razor blade. I have to search for it a bit on the ground, where it is entangled with leaves, twigs, etc. I have it and force it into the end of the stick. The bear, I sense is close at hand, but I can’t see it…I never see it. I do see various cast shadows of it, almost like cut shots in a film, one of its powerful open jaws. I jab and feint at locations near me where, based on the cast shadows, I feel I might hit the bear. I never do. Shift. I am a woman. I awaken.
I haven’t discussed this dream with my friend, who was amazingly generous to share it with me, so I do not know what it means to him; nor can either of us possibly know its fullest meaning. The best I can do is tell you what it would mean to me if it were my dream. So here goes.
For me this extraordinary dream illustrates the archetypal drama of being compelled to move out of familiar territory (he is being chased by a bear), and accepting help from our feminine side (an unknown woman companion helps him), so as to be empowered to become an authentic Spirit Warrior (he is forced to look for a weapon with which to defend himself against an animal which feels dangerous and threatening). This new problem with its accompanying discomfort and uncertainty makes it necessary to develop creative new resources (the unusual weapon).
The woman in this dream (his anima, or unconscious feminine side, and possibly a suggestion of the archetypal Great Mother) helps by pointing out the sharp piece of metal (a product of masculine, man-made technology) which is entangled on the ground among leaves and twigs (feminine symbols of the natural world). He searches for the piece of metal (possibly a pun suggesting he is searching for his mettle, i.e. courage to honor his true self and live authentically), and then finds a creative way to unite the two objects, man-made metal and Mother Nature’s stick, into one useful weapon which he uses to jab at shadows: i.e. his shadow.
It would appear that when my friend had this dream his ego was trying to figure out how to deal with an aspect of his shadow — perhaps an instinct (suggested by the bear) or regressive tendency — against which it wanted to defend itself. I have no idea what the characteristics of his particular shadow are, but the dream makes it very clear that because he followed the guidance of his inner feminine and found a creative way to unite the opposites, (masculine technology, feminine biology), not only did he find a way to protect himself, but for one, brief moment he was able to identify with his feminine side by actually becoming a woman.
What could this mean? Does this suggest a positive development in this man’s psyche? If so, why would accepting help from a woman and briefly “becoming a woman” be important to a man’s psychological and spiritual development? Next time I’ll answer these important questions from the perspective of Jungian psychology.
Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.
Dr. Jean Raffa is an author, speaker, and leader of workshops, dream groups, and study groups. She maintains a blog called "Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom." Her job history includes teacher, television producer, college professor, and instructor at the Disney Institute in Orlando and The Jung Center in Winter Park, FL. She is the author of three books, a workbook, a chapter in a college text, numerous articles in professional journals, and a series of meditations and short stories for Augsburg Fortress Publisher.
Her most recent book is Healing the Sacred Divide. Her book The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth (LuraMedia, 1992) was nominated for the Benjamin Franklin Award for best psychology book of 1992. Reviewed in several journals and featured on the reading lists of university courses, it was also picked by the Isabella catalogue as a must-read for seeking women.
Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork (Innisfree Press, Inc., 1994) has been used in dreamwork courses throughout the country and is included in Amazon.com’s list of the Top 100 Best Selling Dream Books, and TCM’s book list of Human Resources for Organizational Development.
Tags: anima, animus, consciousness, Divine Feminine, dream symbols, Dreams, ego, inner work, Jungian psychology, psychological awareness, symbolism, the shadow, the unconscious self, uniting opposites
- Parent Category: Politics & Rhetoric
- Category: Political Psychology
- Created on 18 December 2014
- Last Updated on 18 December 2014
- Published on 18 December 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 366
Skip Conover is pleased to announce that the audio version of his new book, Political Psychology: New Ideas for Activists, is now available from iTunes, Audible.com, and Amazon. The perfect Christmas gift for the politico in your family. They can listen to it during rush hour!
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Politics & Rhetoric
- Created on 13 December 2014
- Last Updated on 18 December 2014
- Published on 13 December 2014
- Written by Senator Elizabeth Warren via Katrina vandenHeuvel
- Hits: 574
Video highlighted by Katrina vandenHuevel of The Nation: @KatrinaNation on December 13, 2014.
Here Senator Elizabeth Warren highlights some of the issues in our essay: "Tyranny Is Tyranny Whether It Comes in Red Coats or Blue Pinstripes"
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Political Activism
- Created on 09 December 2014
- Last Updated on 13 December 2014
- Published on 09 December 2014
- Written by Arlene Goldbard
- Hits: 570
The demonstrators who are stopping traffic, occupying public spaces, and marching through busy shopping streets want to disrupt business-as-usual in the hope of awakening conscience and action. The tags on every demonstration notice at Ferguson Response tell the story: #WeCantBreathe, #ThisStopsToday, #JusticeforEricGarner, #JusticeforMikeBrown.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area—specifically in Berkeley and Oakland, two centers of activism—there have been incidents of vandalism, arrests, tear gas lobbed by police into crowds (and sometimes lobbed back). These loom very large in mainstream media coverage, of course: if it bleeds, it leads. They loom large in some people’s minds too. I’ve been hearing concern expressed that these demonstrations will discredit the movement for justice: if they turn violent, some have said, they lose moral force.
I want to parse that response because it reveals something about embedded cultural attitudes that are part of the problem. How do we become aware of and correct for racist frames that have shaped our perceptions and attitudes? Let me see if I can help to break it down.
Violence. It was violence that moved demonstrators to act in the first place: the deaths at police hands of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and so many other African Americans across the U.S. that #BlackLivesMatter is a heartbreakingly necessary assertion, countering so many policies and practices that treat black lives as disposable. Property damage is more likely to blow back on those who strike out at store windows than it is to stop those policies and practices. But a broken window is a broken window, not a threat to life and limb.
I was thinking about a post I kept seeing on Facebook and Buzzfeed in October. In Keene, NH, young people rioted, set fires, threw bottles, got tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets at an annual pumpkin-carving festival. More than 30 people were injured, 20 transported to hospitals. Fifty arrests were reported. If you follow the link and scan the photos, you’ll see a largely white crowd. The response to this incident—basically condemning a basketful of bad apples for their behavior and threatening to canceling the annual event—led quite a few people of color to send out tweets like these:
White people in New Hampshire really need to do some self-reflection and regulate their animal impulses in the wake of #keenepumpkinfest.
"Why are they tearing up their own community?" #pumpkinfest
Where are the leaders in the white community? They need to speak out #keenepumpkinfest
What made people laugh at those tweets is the way they transpose common racist tropes to a category—“white”—that is widely considered immune from them. I frequently hear comments in much more benign contexts that encode the assumption that people of color ought to line up into communities defined by a few broad racial categories, and that those communities should adopt consensus leadership and congruent positions.
Why is it acceptable to apply this assumption to black people or Asian Americans; and so laughable to apply it to white people? Why is it so familiar to hear someone whose job is “community outreach” expect a person whose forbears emigrated from Haiti, someone from Zimbabwe, someone whose family goes generations back in the American South, and a dark-skinned Cuban-American to follow a single “representative” leader and agree on a single “representative” position? And so hilarious to imagine that community outreach person saying, “Why can’t you Irish, Poles, Italians, Southern Baptists, and Ashenazi Jews get it together: pick a white leader who speaks for the community?
Why don’t people who fear the current demonstrations have nightmares when they read about Pumpkinfest. Why aren’t they worried that marauding bands of white youth will discredit whites as a group? Why doesn’t the tale of 30 injured and 50 arrested in Keene, NH, trigger the same reaction as the six arrests in Berkeley Sunday night?
These are rhetorical questions, of course, because the difference in the two responses, in the two sets of commonplace statements, is race. Is racism.
Moral force. This one drives me crazy. I understand that the practice of nonviolent resistance calls for protesters to be far superior in conduct to those whose actions they protest. When this discipline was applied, as in Gandhi’s time or in the sixties civil rights movement in the south, the sight of protesters enduring abuse without returning it had tremendous moral and persuasive power. But not everyone chooses to adopt that discipline.
Demonstrations sometimes give expression to outrage. I wasn’t at the Berkeley protests, but there are lots of crowd shots in the local papers. The racial make-up of the crowds isn’t that different from PumpkinFest. And based on past history, it’s likely that African American protesters who take part in demonstrations where some people engage in rock-throwing and window-breaking risk far more serious punishments than their non-black counterparts. Young people’s protests—especially those arising spontaneously, as opposed to long-planned actions with well-trained monitors and codes of behavior—whatever else they express, they are likely to express some of the rebellion and some of the disdain for constituted authority their counterparts have felt at every moment in recent history. I may not like it, but no one asked for my approval.
A default assumption that needs examining here is that well-behaved, polite protesters are more likely to see their causes succeed. It would be really cool if this were true, but I see no proof. What vandalism, rock-throwing, and looting do—apart from endangering people and property—is give those who feel authorized to judge a movement’s worthiness a convenient excuse to dismiss it. “Well, maybe they have a point, but their methods—I can’t condone them.”
A movement’s moral force derives from the way its adherents express the claims of justice, seek to redress historic wrongs, promote freedom and equality, call out evil and cast shame on those who perpetrate it. This can no more be canceled by acts of vandalism than the immoral force of a movement that exists to oppress and persecute vilified groups can be canceled by a few good deeds some of its members may perform.
Calling racism what it is. This week in The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb writes about the euphemism “racial profiling.”
Nothing better illustrates the slick, manipulative power of euphemism than the fact that our dialogue takes seriously this non-term. There is no such thing as “racial profiling”—there is simply racism. What subsequent action, what logical end, does racial profiling produce that abject racism would not? The supposed definition of “racial profiling”—that the alleged behavior of any fragment of a population becomes the basis for categorizing it in its sum, that epidermal hues are a valid means of reflexively predicting character—is what we, in more honest moments in our past, simply referred to as racism.
He shows how evergreen—and baseless—has been the specious argument that “black crime is the cause of reactionary policing.” Among all the other things it is, racism is the sense of entitlement to say that human rights should be earned by exemplary conduct. But human rights are a universal entitlement, not a privilege. Even implying that they must be earned expresses power relationships racists would rather not acknowledge (who has to earn and who gets? who gets to judge and who be judged?).
Most tellingly for me, Cobb deconstructs national homicide figures to show how incredibly violent the United States is, crossing racial lines to stake our collective claim on murder, then notes that
The fact that Americans die at the hands of other Americans is, one would naïvely suspect, an American problem—but if those Americans are black, it is considered anything but. This is the alchemy by which racial category takes precedent, yet again, over supposed citizenship. This is the skewed thinking that forms the context in which black people die in the United States.
My friend posted a blog from The Washington Post about white people’s scores on an implicit bias test. The test is basically a sorting exercise. You have four categories: images of black faces, images of white faces, a set of “bad” words (sad, pain, etc.), and a set of “good” words (glorious, joy, etc.). Holding your index fingers over two computer keys, you sort as quickly as possible according to criteria on the screen. Sometimes you sort African American faces and positive words into the same bin; sometimes you sort white faces and good words. Speed is a key criterion. If you hesitate longer when you have to sort the categories “African American” and “good” than when you sort “European American” and “good,” your mind is bogged down with unconscious bias that confuses the categories.
The aggregate scores to date show that white people as a group, regardless of age, political affiliation, and place of residence have some implicit bias toward European Americans, ranging from slight to strong. My test showed slight bias. A friend who took the test at the same time (and who is not white) showed strong bias toward whites. Both of us are conscious anti-racists who have done extensive work on our own attitudes and behaviors.
What the Post blog didn’t mention is that approximately half of African Americans who take the test show a bias toward their own category, and half a bias toward whites. I’m not holding up this test as some sort of ultimate truth. But the results fit my sense of reality, which is that racism is a cultural issue that must be addressed as such. Human beings’ relationship to culture is pretty much as the relationship of water to fish: we swim in it, it forms the context for our lives, it is very difficult to step back from our immersion to make a critical assessment of the matrix in which we are embedded. The culture of racism is a culture precisely because it permeates unconscious attitudes and actions. When Jelani Cobb quotes Charles Barkley or alludes to Bill Cosby’s erstwhile “responsibility tirades,” he is highlighting distortions that shape some African Americans’ hearts and minds.
Regardless of which racial categories we fit, it takes a tremendous act of will to cultivate the level of awareness that can own and attempt to correct for that. We had better summon it now.
Queen Esther, “That Wall in Your Heart.”
Arlene Goldbard says of herself: I am a writer, speaker, activist, and consultant. Listings prior to January, 2002, were carried out in my capacity as a founding partner of Adams & Goldbard, an organizational and cultural development consulting firm.
As a speaker, workshop leader, and writer my aim for fresh takes on subjects that matter intensely to audiences and participants. Please see Talks & Workshops and Essays & Articles and for more information.
As a consultant, I have worked with a wide variety of public and private agencies, most of them involved in cultural policy, artistic production and distribution, and cultural development planning and evaluation. My consulting work integrates research, writing and editorial services, planning, program development, group dynamics, organizational restructuring, and cooperative problem-solving. Please see Consulting for more information.