Archetype in Action Organization
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Religion & Spiritual Practices
- Created on 10 March 2014
- Last Updated on 10 March 2014
- Published on 10 March 2014
- Written by Jenna Lilla, MA PhD BCC
- Hits: 319
Life energy moves through all living things. A seed sprouts, growing and becoming a tree, blossoming and bearing fruit. As long as the tree is healthy and without disease its life energy will follow a path. This is not a scientific declaration, but a poetic one: energy creates transformations in form.
In human terms, we call this energy ‘libido.’ The potential transformations of our energy are shaped by ‘libidinal’ desire: our instincts animate us, drive us. Our desire moves us to seek an object; in pure form libido moves us to seek out an other, not as object but subject. To sit quietly with oneself is to begin to notice the desire arising within oneself. We are relational beings, often seeking affection, approval, and satisfaction of our emotional desires. Throughout the course of life our libidinal desire may transform, from seeking objects into knowing a subject, and from knowing a subject into knowing the Subject. These are the secrets of Eros: just as life energy transforms a seed into a fruit bearing tree and the fruit offers nourishment to other beings, so too love holds the potential to transform the living soul into spiritual fruitfulness. The soul blossoms into the fruit of a life, an offering to the eternal. This is the gift of love, born of a sacred inner marriage.
The form of our love, the path of our Eros, transforms each of us uniquely. Transformations in our love delineate a path of growth for the living soul. Such transformations in love are fundamentally bound to a capacity for relationality. Transformation of the soul requires the capacity to seek and love living forms and symbols. With this capacity, our desire may transform from bodily form to symbolic form, seeking living symbols of the sacred.
In infancy, our desire is oriented toward the mother’s affections. From the first moments of life the baby seeks out the breast. The infant’s mouth suckles, calling out to the mother. This desire later transforms to a desire for the mother’s emotional affection, and then to a desire for the father’s affections or attention. Desire for the love of our personal father may transform into symbolic idealizations of cultural fathers. If so, as our libido shifts, we begin to seek symbolic relationships: the ideas of community leaders, church fathers, Gurus become significant in our life and imagination. In an important passage Jung sets the stage for an understanding:
“The strong and natural love that binds the child to the father turns away, during the years when the child is outgrowing the family circle, to the higher forms of the father, to authority, to the “Fathers” of the Church and to the father-god visibly represented by them. Nevertheless, mythology is not lacking in consolations. Did not the Word become flesh? And did not the divine pneuma enter into the Virgin’s womb? The whirlwind of Anaxagoras was that same divine nous that produced the world out of itself. Why do we cherish the image of the Immaculate Mother even to this day?” (CW8, para. 76)
This movement of libido is a movement of ascension: energy moves upward from the personal father, toward the collective fathers, then to a father God. This is only a first phase in the movement of life energy, as libido is sublimated from desire for a personal relationship with others toward a relationship with the symbolic other, as an eternal living symbol. The transformations of our love are guided by and through fatherly images: the soul seeks a relationship to the light, the energy, the love of the divine father. The divine father guides us in our spiritual development. Carl Jung’s text Symbols of Transformation will illuminate the many images and forms of God’s love, light, and energy. Images of God spontaneously appear within psychic life, as ‘psychic facts.’ Jung says:
“The God-image thrown up by a spontaneous act of creation is a living figure, a being that exists in its own right and there-fore confronts its ostensible creator autonomously… As proof of this it may be mentioned that the relation between the creator and the created is a dialectical” (CW8, para. 95-96).
In a footnote Jung adds:
“The psychic fact “God” is a typical autonomism, a collective archetype… It is therefore characteristic not only of all higher forms of religion, but appears spontaneously in the dreams of individuals” (CW8, fn 29).
God is a psychic fact. God is the guiding light and love for the soul: “The language of religion defines God as ‘love’” (para. 98). Myths, images, forms, sense, ‘spontaneous acts of creation’, offer ways of knowing God. This is a dialectical relation between creator and created. Forming this dialectical relation is labor of the soul.
But such realization, such relation, is not the end of our spiritual journey, there is still another horizon to open, another Other to know. As Jung says ‘mythology is not lacking in consolations’: the Word becomes flesh, the divine pneuma enters into the Virgin’s womb, the images of the Immaculate Mother. Such myths hint to the secret and hidden aspect of psychic life. We will need the light of God to reveal such hidden truths. For the soul transforms in and through our capacity to see the unseen, to know the unknown. The soul seeks to love beyond body, or form, or figure. And in return receives the compassion and solace of ‘the Mother’.
Jung asks “And did not the divine pneuma enter into the Virgin’s womb?” The word pneuma is from the Greek pneûma, meaning ‘breath, wind.’ In the bible we find that pneuma is an essential component of spiritual life. John 3:5 says: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit (pneuma), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” God breathes into us. It is this breath, this spirit of God that shall lead. Note here too, a dialectics of the soul. Not only are we guided by God’s breath, the pneuma, but we must be born of water as well. Here too, we touch upon the hidden compassion of the mother, rebirth in the divine waters.
Pnuema, the breath of God, guides the soul. The breath of God leads us on a path of archetypal integration, toward discovering a divine union in ourselves and in all things of heaven and earth. This is the Hieros Gamos, a sacred marriage. The breath of God leads us toward an understanding, a revelation: the soul’s realization of who it is and why it is here, known at that unitive moment when the divine pneuma enters into the Virgin’s womb. It is here in the consoling embrace of the mother that all of the labors of spirit are complete, and the calcifications of spirit’s austerity are dissolved. The husk is cast off and the soul reborn into a divine realm, not as a separate world, but as this world seen with new eyes.
This is not a path for everyone. It is not a path of icons or idealizations. To know the sacred marriage one has to release the handholds of ordinary everyday thinking. One has to enter into imaginal and relational modes of knowing, letting the dreamlife guide the process of the soul’s development. With this we hold the potential to fructify the seed of our soul, to ‘become fruitful.’ Jung speaks to the potential:
“With personalities who are obviously capable of intellectual effort, the prospect of spiritual fruitfulness is something worthy of their highest aspirations, and for many people it is actually a vital necessity. This other side of the fantasy also explains the excitement, for we are concerned here with a thought that contains a presentiment of the future-one of those thoughts which, to quote Maeterlinck, spring from the “inconscient superieur,” from the “prospective potency” of a subliminal synthesis” (CW8, para 78).
‘Spiritual fruitfulness’ is something worthy of our highest aspirations. It includes the ascension and transformations of libido, creating a ‘prospective potency.’ This ascension is represented by the archetypal movements of ‘divine pneuma’ and the creative prodigality which life offers the soul. Yet again, Jung offers a dialectical twist: this potency occurs through a ‘subliminal synthesis’. It is born of unitive love, a synthesis occurring below the threshold consciousness. These dialectical moments of spirit appear to form the deepest poetics of psychic life. They are the foundation of all creative acts. They form the basis of the transformation of the living soul into the eternal, they are the gift of love.
With this subtle realization, Jung is pointing to the teleological aims of the living soul. Beyond the truth or falsity of a metaphysical God, the God image offers a teleological purpose within psychic life. The God image points to the aims and purpose of psychic life: guiding us in our process of spiritual development. Jung says:
“There are no “purposeless” psychic processes; that is to say, it is a hypothesis of the greatest heuristic value that the psyche is essentially purposive and directed” (CW8, para. 90).
God images are purposive and directive. They guide the soul in the process of transformation. Jung adds:
“Were there not a secret purposiveness bound up with the supposedly devious path of the libido or with the supposed repression is certain that such a process could not take place so easily, so naturally, and so spontaneously” (CW8, para. 91).
Here we meet with a divine irony. Through the inner guidance of the God image, we are led to the highest image: the “most high,” the “Almighty,” the “eternal one.” With the realization of the highest image we now hold the potential for the most sacred of creative acts: knowing the deep truth that exists beyond all images or icons. This the visionary moment, a ‘hierophany.’ Hierophany is from the Greek roots “ἱερός” (hieros), meaning “sacred” or “holy,” and “φαίνειν” meaning “to reveal” or “to bring to light.’ Through transformations of love, we bring to light a primal relationality between God as the light of awareness and the Mother as a fertile unknown. The soul is reborn and transfigured in this revelation.
Reference: Carl Jung, Cw 5, Symbols of Transformation (in US Pubic Domain, first published 1912)
JENNA LILLA, MA, PhD, BCC offers a creative reading of Carl Jung’s texts, limning the path of soul. She works with Jung’s texts in creative manner, playing with ideas from a spiritual perspective while staying true to core archetypal insights. She holds a Doctorate in psychology and a Masters degree in rhetoric and communication. She is also a Board Certified Coach. She has worked as a counselor, life coach, college teacher, research assistant, and conceptual editor. She says, “At heart I am a mystic.”
- Parent Category: Focus Issues
- Category: Human Rights
- Created on 10 March 2014
- Last Updated on 10 March 2014
- Published on 10 March 2014
- Written by Milana Knežević
- Hits: 251
On International Women's Day, we salute all the women around the world who stand up for freedom of expression
By Milana Knezevic / 8 March, 2014
International Women’s Day is a day to remember violence against women, the education gap, the wage gap, online harassment, everyday sexism, the intersection between sexism and other -isms, and a whole host of other issues to make us realise we’ve still got a long way to go. A day to demand continued progress, and a day to pledge to work to achieve it.
But it is also a day to celebrate. To appreciate the fantastic achievements that are made every day, everywhere, by women from all walks of life. It’s a day to be grateful to the women who dedicate their lives to fighting on the front lines to protect rights vital to us all. We want to shine the spotlight on women who have stood up for freedom of expression when it’s not the easy or popular thing to do, against fierce opposition and often at great personal risk. The following eight women have done just that. We know there are many, many more. Tell us about your female free speech hero in the comments or tweet us @IndexCensorship.
Meltem Arikan — Turkey
Arikan is a writer who has long used her work to challenge patriarchal structures in society. He latest play “Mi Minor” was staged in Istanbul from December 2012 to April 2013, and told the story of a pianist who used social media to challenge the regime. Only a few months after, the Gezi Park protests broke out in Turkey. What started as an environmental demonstration quickly turned into a platform for the public to express their general dissatisfaction with the authorities — and social media played a huge role. Arikan was one of many to join in the Gezi Park movement, and has written a powerful personal account of her experiences. But a prominent name in Turkey, she was accused of being an organiser behind the protests, and faced a torrent of online abuse from government supporters. She was forced to flee, now living in exile in the UK.
"I realised that we were surrounded, imprisoned in our own home and prevented from expressing ourselves freely."
Anabel Hernández — Mexico
Hernández is a Mexican journalist known for her investigative reporting on the links between the country’s notorious drug cartels, government officials and the police. Following the publication of her book Los Señores del Narco (Narcoland), she received so many death threats that she was assigned round-the-clock protection. She can tell of opening the door to her home only to find a decapitated animal in front of her. Before Christmas, armed men arrived in her neighbourhood, disabled the security cameras and went to several houses looking for her. She was not at home, but one of her bodyguards was attacked and it was made clear that the visit — from people first identifying themselves as members of the police, then as Zetas – was because of her writing.
"Many of these murders of my colleagues have been hidden away, surrounded by silence – they received a threat, and told no one; no one knew what was happening…We have to make these threats public. We have to challenge the authorities to protect our press by making every threat public – so they have no excuse."
Amira Osman — Sudan
Amira Osman, a Sudanese engineer and women’s rights activist was last year arrested under the country’s draconian public order act, for refusing to pull up her headscarf. She was tried for “indecent conduct” under Article 152 of the Sudanese penal code, an offence potentially punishable by flogging. Osman used her case raise awareness around the problems of the public order law. She recorded a powerful video, calling on people to join her at the courthouse, and “put the Public Order Law on trial”. Her legal team has challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the trial as been postponed for the time being.
"This case is not my own, it is a cause of all the Sudanese people who are being humiliated in their country, and their sisters, mothers, daughters, and colleagues are being flogged."
Fadiamata Walet Oumar — Mali
Fadiamata Walet Oumar is a Tuareg musician from Mali. She is the lead singer and founder of Tartit, the most famous band in the world performing traditional Tuareg music. The group work to preserve a culture threatened by the conflict and instability in northern Mali. Ansar Dine, an islamists rebel group, has imposed one of the most extreme interpretations of sharia law in the areas they control, including a music ban. Oumar believes this is because news and information is being disseminated through music. She fled to a refugee camp in Burkina Faso, where she has continued performing — taking care to hide her identity, so family in Mali would not be targeted over it. She also works with an organisation promoting women’s rights.
"Music plays an important role in the life of Tuareg women. Our music gives women liberty…Freedom of expression is the most important thing in the world, and music is a part of freedom. If we don’t have freedom of expression, how can you genuinely have music?"
Khadija Ismayilova — Azerbaijan
Ismayilova is an award-winning Azerbaijani journalist, working with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She is know for her investigative reporting on corruption connected to the country’s president Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan has a notoriously poor record on human rights, including press freedom, and Ismayilova has been repeatedly targeted over her work. She was blackmailed with images of an intimate nature of her and her boyfriend, with the message to stop “behaving improperly”. This February, she was taken in for questioning by the general prosecutor several times, accused of handing over state secrets because she had met with visitors from the US Senate. In light of this, she posted a powerful message on her Facebook profile, pleading for international support in the event of he arrest.
"WHEN MY CASE IS CONCERNED, if you can, please support by standing for freedom of speech and freedom of privacy in this country as loudly as possible. Otherwise, I rather prefer you not to act at all."
Jillian York — US
Jillian York is a writer and activist, and Director of Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). She is a passionate advocate of freedom of expression in the digital age, and has spoken and written extensively on the topic. She is also a fierce critic of the mass surveillance undertaken by the NSA and other governments and government agencies. The EFF was one of the early organisers of The Day We Fight Back, a recent world-wide online campaign calling for new laws to curtail mass surveillance.
"Dissent is an essential element to a free society and mass surveillance without due process — whether undertaken by the government of Bahrain, Russia, the US, or anywhere in between — threatens to stifle and smother that dissent, leaving in its wake a populace cowed by fear."
Cao Shunli — China
Shunli is an human rights activist who has long campaigned for the right to increased citizens input into China’s Universal Periodic Review — the UN review of a country’s human rights record — and other human rights reports. Among other things, she took part in a two-month sit-in outside the Foreign Ministry. She has been targeted by authorities on a number of occasions over her activism, including being sent to a labour camp on at least two occasions. In September, she went missing after authorities stopped her from attending a human rights conference in Geneva. Only in October was she formally arrested, and charged for “picking quarrels and promoting troubles”. She has been detained ever since. The latest news is that she is seriously ill, and being denied medical treatment.
"The SHRAP [State Human Rights Action Plan, released in 2012] hasn’t reached the UN standard to include vulnerable groups. The SHRAP also has avoided sensitive issue of human rights in China. It is actually to support the suppression of petitions, and to encourage corruption."
Zainab Al Khawaja — Bahrain
Al Khawaja is a Bahraini human rights activist, who is one of the leading figures in the Gulf kingdom’s ongoing pro-democracy movement. She has brought international attention to human rights abuses and repression by the ruling royal family, among other things, through her Twitter account. She has also taken part in a number of protests, once being shot at close range with tear gas. Al Khawaja has been detained several times over the last few years, over “crimes” like allegedly tearing up a photo of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She had been in jail for nearly a year when she was released in February, but she still faces trials over charges like “insulting a police officer”. She is the daughter of prominent human rights defender Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who is currently serving a life sentence.
"Being a political prisoner in Bahrain, I try to find a way to fight from within the fortress of the enemy, as Mandela describes it. Not long after I was placed in a cell with fourteen people—two of whom are convicted murderers—I was handed the orange prison uniform. I knew I could not wear the uniform without having to swallow a little of my dignity. Refusing to wear the convicts’ clothes because I have not committed a crime, that was my small version of civil disobedience."
Challenge censorship. Fight mass surveillance. Support Index.
- Parent Category: Politics & Rhetoric
- Category: Political Psychology
- Created on 10 March 2014
- Last Updated on 10 March 2014
- Published on 10 March 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 301
"You want to be a missionary?
You got that missionary zeal?
Let somebody change your life;
How's that make you feel."
Paul Simon, "Hurricane's Eye"
When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Senate Bill 1062 on February 26, 2014, I knew that we had seen the beginning of the end of the Tea Party. That was the bill in the Arizona legislature, which many believed would allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community.
Governor Brewer is known for her conservative views, and much of her support has come from The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. The veto is an example of the type of political acts President John F. Kennedy referred to in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage. Governor Brewer had to deny one of the most cherished ideals of The Tea Party, and thereby lost the support of many who had put her in office.
She had to dig into the depths of her own Soul, and make the right decision for all of her constituents, the people of Arizona, not just her right wing cronies. She earned my respect as a leader. Decisions like this are what American political leadership is all about. We do not have to always agree with a politician to support their performance of their duty in office. When we elect someone in the United States, we are choosing someone to be our representative to make the right decision for all of their constituents, not only the cabal that put them in power.
Of course, it is human nature to want one's own way in life. We see this in the temper tantrums of infants, who cry because they don't get their way. The world is filled with little tyrants, who run companies and organizations, and who have adopted the motto "my way or the highway" to reflect their leadership style. But, like anything, there are bounds; limits beyond which we cannot go without forfeiting some of the virtues that have given strength to The United States of America.
Dr. Carl G. Jung wrote for more than six decades about the factors which give energy to life. He pointed out that all of the movement in life comes from the energy that arises between two extremes. He spoke of the top and the bottom of a cliff as two extremes, and the water running between them as a metaphor for the energy. In this example, the energy flows in only one direction, but he went on to point out that energy flows in both directions at different times and in different ways, or nothing happens.
The metaphor applies to politics too. For a time, it seems the energy can flow in only one direction, and the "my way or the highway" people of The Tea Party are like that. They think they can dictate to the rest of us how we should live. This is contrary to the spirit of The United States, which was founded in large part by normal people, who were trying to escape that style of leadership. But one man's idea is another man's anathema, and the strength of our country comes from the process of vigorous and respectful debate, which winnows out bad ideas and allows good ideas to float to the surface.
Our national spirit has been roiled by the turbulence caused by the 9/11 attacks. Such an extreme event naturally engenders an opposite reaction from those who are attacked. The Tea Party was conceived in that environment. Because religious intolerance was involved, it was natural for religious absolutism to respond reciprocally, and start to follow the "my way or the highway" path. This in turn attracted a lot of unconscious angst, which had floated in the deep unconscious of our nation since The Civil War.
Whenever a major cataclysm occurs, regardless of origin and outcome, society has to find an adaptation, which will allow it to find a steady state in its societal psyche, and allow it to perform as a society once again. After The Civil War, there was naturally a lot of underlying resentment, on both the winning and losing sides. On both sides, the loss of the blossom of a generation was deeply felt. But, like a neurosis, which puts one's psyche in turmoil, people had to cordon off that resentment and adapt to a single American nation reborn.
But major events can open old wounds in unpredictable ways, and a new adaptation must be found. The political polarization we are experiencing in the United States right now is a manifestation of this reopening of old wounds. They had scabbed over and were healing in many ways, but events worked to allow our demons to run for the extremes once again. The Tea Party was one manifestation of this natural human phenomenon. It was an experiment in how far the conservative point of view could reassert itself in American society. By her veto, Governor Brewer has said, "This far, and no farther."
One of the major psychic phenomena, which Dr. Jung discussed in his long career of prodigious scholarship, was the idea of enantiodromia. That is the tendency of things in the extreme to turn into their opposite. One of the interesting errors that has surfaced recently is that because Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, he was a conservative. This is not true by any stretch of the imagination. If that were true, he would have left slavery in place in the South, as many wanted him to do. Even the Founding Fathers of our country called slavery "The Wolf," and knew the issue had the potential to devour the nation, which it very nearly did.
The switch of the Republican Party from a party that advanced the end of slavery to a party that espouses new forms of "Jim Crow" laws in the South is a perfect example of enantiodromia. Many of us are old enough to remember that the party of intolerance and bigotry in the South was the Democratic Party. It was the party of George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Harry F. Byrd, Sr. and James Lindsey Almond, Jr. My how times have changed!
These massive changes in our country's psyche are only examples of how enantiodromia works in politics. Governor Jan Brewer's courageous decision to veto Senate Bill 1062 is a symptom of this same phenomenon at work on our polarized politics right now. It is a sign that we have seen the beginning of the end of The Tea Party, and there is nothing that the Koch brothers or any of the other powers that be can do about it. Buh bye!
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Jungian Topics
- Created on 05 March 2014
- Last Updated on 05 March 2014
- Published on 05 March 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 559
"So you see, when during the treatment there is a great disorder and chaos in a man's mind, this symbol can appear in the form of a mandala in a dream, or else he makes imaginary, fantastical drawings, or something of that sort. The mandala appears spontaneously as a compensatory archetype, bringing order, showing the possibility of order. It denotes a center which is not coincident with the ego but with the wholeness which I call the self--this is the term for wholeness."
Dr. Carl G. Jung in his interview with Professor Richard I. Evans,
August 7, 1957, C.G. Jung Speaking, Interviews and Encounters, P. 328
I had an epiphany this morning. I have previously related the story of how I never understood why people like Jackson Pollock's "drip paintings" until I was physically in the presence of one at the Boston Museum of Art about 15 years ago. On that occasion, I entered the gallery where the 20 foot long piece was hung, looked up at it, and spontaneously burst into sobbing and uncontrollable tears. The reason was always a mystery to me until I read the quoted passage this morning (March 4, 2014).
It dawned on me that Jackson Pollock's psyche was in chaos. His unconscious was crying for help, but at the time he lived no one could have recognized the meaning of his art. It is probable that if he didn't have the outlet of the drip paintings, he would have lost his life much earlier. But, because he could project his pain onto the canvas, he was able to maintain some semblance of balance until his untimely death, in no small part due to that chaos I surmise, at age 44.
Pollock's drip paintings fall on the far end of a scale of duality from the mandala. They are chaos, and convey the impossibility of wholeness, while the mandala represents the possibility of wholeness. I find this very comforting.
I've had quite a number of mandala dreams lately, which stands to reason based on the turmoil I've felt in my conscious life recently, and the quote from Jung sums that up. They show me the possibility of wholeness as a compensation, while explaining the outburst of sobs on being in the presence of an authentic Pollock.
Our psyches are designed to give meaning to everything in our lives. Normally they are able to do that just fine. The meanings may be wrong from a scientific literal point of view, as was the case with the existence of Zeus and Aphrodite, but they give us a basis for moving ahead with our lives. What Jung's passage confirmed to me this morning is that what my psyche was seeing in the Pollock was the inability to make any meaning from the image, and my psyche was experiencing the great psychic pain that Pollock must have been feeling in the moment of creating his work of art. It was pain expressed directly from his unconscious to mine.
For the rest of us, who may not be suffering as much psychic chaos as Pollock, his paintings probably work like the "Eleven O'Clock News." You know, "Bloody murder most foul at Eleven." The reason we are attracted to stories like that, or in this case the chaos projected into Pollock's paintings, is because they serve as compensation for the troubles in our own lives, and they tell us that our own lives are not so bad.
But, for Pollock, there was no escaping the chaos he painted for a decade. He could project it out on the canvas, but it was always there and never resolving for him. It drove him to drink and ultimately to his death. Somehow, my psyche was reacting as if I was seeing some amazingly tragic incident in real life, like the actual and immediate death of a human being, which I experienced in Vietnam.
I found Jung's comment that a mandala dream shows "the possibility of order" very comforting. It explains both why I have had several mandala dreams relatively recently, and what my psyche is trying to say to me. I had one in the last week, though, which was disconcerting. Here it is:
I dreamed a mandala that was in the form of a target. There was an outer ring that was cerulean blue, an inner ring that was a drab grey twice as wide, and a bull's eye, which was dark black. As I was looking at it and thinking, "Oh, how nice, I'm having a mandala dream," the silhouette of a predatory black insect walked across my mandala. Then I woke up.
My interpretation of this dream, which finally came this morning after a week of working with it, is that it was telling me of the possibility of wholeness, as Jung said, but to remember that there is always the Shadow to rain on our parade, and spoil a perfect image. I see the outer ring as the facade of our everyday lives, with the color of the sky, the grey ring as the uncertainty of things beyond our control, both inner and outer, and the black circle at the center is the unconscious self, which we can never perfectly reach. I may be wrong, but this is how far I've gone with it to date.
Lately, I've been having an urge to do some drip paintings; an urge that I have felt time and again over the past 20 years of painting. I know that we all have a bit of chaos within. I imagine that it would be useful to do that, as a way of projecting out those chaotic feelings, understanding that by doing so I may be giving space to my psyche to produce a few more mandalas, and show me the way to wholeness.
Interestingly, I am comforted by looking at mandalas, but I don't feel the urge to draw one. That's just where I am at the moment. We live in chaotic times, and my life, which seemed complete and whole by 2005, came apart shortly thereafter. It has only been by some serious adaptations that I have been able to go on to bring new meaning into my life, and the lives of those who know me.
Mandala Credit: Self Awareness - A Life Journey - The Painting, by James Lanigan Thompson
Drip Painting: Jackson Pollock Mural
- Parent Category: Politics & Rhetoric
- Category: Political Psychology
- Created on 02 March 2014
- Last Updated on 03 March 2014
- Published on 02 March 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 620
How do you tell the difference between a democratically elected leader, who will work for the best interests of their people, and a gangster, who will jam their ideology down the throats of their people and steal their assets? You can't tell from an election. Adolph Hitler was elected by the German people to be Chancellor of Germany, with copious use of jack boots and rifle barrels on March 5, 1933, yet many believe he was a manifestation of Satan.
Many Americans and Egyptians have been mystified by the political process in Egypt. After nearly a century of trying to take control of a government, the Muslim Brotherhood successfully got Mohamed Morsi elected Egyptian President on June 24, 2012. There was jubilation! On July 3, 2013, he was removed from office by the Egyptian military, and to this day many Egyptians are angry that an "elected" President could be so easily deposed.
Elections are not a panacea. A wolf can dress in sheep's clothing, and for a time be very popular. Let's consider the warning signs that trouble is brewing in a society. Here are a few:
1. Has the elected official turned the police force or military violently against his own people?
2. Has the public official and his acolytes stolen public assets, rather than use them for the benefit of the people?
3. Do the leaders try to control the private lives of their citizens?
4. Are there a lot of people in the streets demanding a redress of their grievances?
5. Is the military or police force used to control the people, rather than to serve and protect them, which is their legitimate role?
6. Are people denied the fundamental human rights identified by the Founding Fathers of the United States: speech, press, religion, assembly, the right to petition government for a redress of grievances?
7. Have people been denied the right to communicate among themselves, and with their friends around the world?
8. Are dissidents jailed rather than being permitted to speak their piece?
9. Have the normal checks and balances among the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature been compromised?
After years of promoting elections around the world, it is somehow very hard for American governments of either party to deny the right of an elected official to serve. But that's what the people of the Arab Spring and Ukraine have done. It's called a Revolution, and the phenomenon dates back for millennia.
A nation is like a giant pot of stew, with many ingredients. Each of those ingredients falls into a duality, and it is often possible to measure where a country stands on a scale between the extremes of each duality in the stewpot. A few examples are: religious v. secular, Republican v. Democrat, liberal v. conservative, Tea Party v. Republican, governance for the benefit of all of the people v. using control for personal benefit, and guns pointed at the people rather than at criminals and invaders.
Governing is maintaining a balance among all interests such that the people adapt to the method and style of governance. As Abraham Lincoln had it:
"You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time."
Elected officials favor their cronies. This is one of the perquisites of power. Often they cheat and favor their cronies more than they should, and there are more than normal complaints from the people. Complaints against Vladimir Putin for steering the huge contracts of the Sochi Olympics to his cronies are a case in point. But just a moderate transgression, when other factors are in reasonable balance, will not spark a revolution.
I once heard a story that helps one understand why it is not helpful to be totally rigid in governance, nor in evaluating a government. A young man was once hired to be the clerk at a music store. After a couple of weeks, he noticed that the piano teacher, who gave lessons in the store, was selling some of the piano books off the shelves to his students, but pocketing the money rather than registering the sale for the benefit of the store.
Once he was sure, the clerk confronted the music teacher and fired him after the teacher admitted his transgression. The next morning the clerk went to the home of the owner of the store, very proud of his management skill, and reported that the music teacher had been terminated.
The owner was shocked! He said, "You go over to the home of the music teacher right away, and beg him to come back to work!"
"Why?" the clerk asked.
"Because he sells more pianos than anyone else," was the rational reply from the owner.
Citizens are like the owner in this case. Sometimes leaders go too far on one scale, and suffer the consequences. Bill Clinton enraged the moral conscience of the American people by sexual impropriety with Monica Lewinsky, his intern. His Administration was hamstrung for months because of the public outcry. It was a very close thing, and one of only two cases in American history when a sitting President was impeached. But, in the end, it was not enough to tip the balance, because other considerations allowed Mr. Clinton to win through and continue in office.
This is the value of checks and balances. In the United States we have a form of government that allows each branch of government to keep the other two branches from going too far. If the President exceeds his authority, or in Mr. Clinton's case common decency, the Congress can remove him from office. If the Congress goes too far, the President can fail to execute the laws it passes and the Supreme Court can rule them unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court exceeds its authority or becomes too partisan, the Congress can simply pass new laws, which begin the process again. This system, though ponderous in many respects, has served our nation well over its history, allowing the United States to boast one of the most stable governments on the planet.
But, as we have seen in our world news, there are times when other systems of government have failed their people. Egypt has still not found the right balance, nor has Ukraine, Venezuela, Brazil, and many other countries.
We cannot assume that just because an election was held it was fair. We cannot assume that elected officials will govern in the best interests of their constituents rather than themselves. This has been proven over and over in Illinois, for example, where several Governors have been sent to prison for self-dealing.
All the people can do is watch for the warning sides, and take action when things get out of control, which they often do. It is easy to see which system provides for the prosperity of its people. The poorer the country, the less likely it is that the interests of government and the interests of the people coincide. There are exceptions, where a country's natural resources provide riches to the government and enough crumbs to keep the people ruefully satisfied. But they are exceptional indeed, and they often exhibit some of the warning signs as well.
Photo credit: "Evil Must Die" © Dmitrii89rus | Dreamstime.com