There are some things we need to wake up to and learn from this shipwreck of our ability to be civil to each other. The first thing we need to learn is that living in a world full of turmoil — poverty, crime, violence, or more commonly, anxiety, tension, frustration, serious illness, and clashing parents and battling kids — teaches our biology early on that we are in a scary world. We learn we can’t feel safe or trust people to be good.
We who have been living in the more affluent bubble the last few decades seem caught in a double bind. On the one hand, we want to be compassionate, or at least seem that way. On the other hand, we are afraid of and want to defend ourselves against the people, the culture, and the communities caught in the clutches of drastic economic hardships. We fear them as if we are being threatened by foreigners. We fear their crudeness, their potential violence, their anger, their drug use, their failure to know and respect our rules; most of all, far too many of us fear how much it might really cost to give them a helping hand. Well, all I can say is that, if we have learned anything at all from our history at home and abroad since World War II, it should be that whenever we allow ourselves to be driven down the path of fear, we are on a direct road to disaster. This is a time for us to help each other without fear and to invest in our country with creativity to rebuild the structure of our democracy, beginning with its human infrastructure.
Dear Reader, The following is a continuation of my blog series based on my book The Midnight Hour: A Jungian Perspective on America’s Pivotal Moment. If you are just now picking up on the series, you might start with the …
The shock of the election and the traumatic stress-inducing political chaos that has followed it has left me aware that a much larger portion of my fellow citizens than I knew are strangers to me. Thinking about this realization and the darkness around this election brought to mind a frightening story I read in my childhood.
It took me a few decades to learn that life is a flow of creation, destruction, and re-creation. When we are in the destruction phase, we often feel stuck, life seems chaotic, out of control, threatening and even despairing. In reality we are being faced with a turning point. We are being challenged to choose between regressing and re-creating. It took me a bit longer to learn that happiness, joy, and fulfillment are not goals to be achieved. They are the result of being fully engaged in the blood, sweat, tears, fears, love, and laughter of real life. True peace of mind comes from having the will and courage to confront the darkness and uncertainties we are facing and heal the splits within our unconscious shadows, both personal and cultural—the things we have closed our eyes and ears to.
I hated thinking about writing this book as much as I hated thinking about the election that made it necessary. And as much as I hated enduring the emotions I felt while writing it, Melusina, that flaming bitch of a muse that lives in some dark interior cavern of my soul, wouldn’t let me rest. Although I resisted, she wouldn’t let me alone. When I least expected it, she would lash me with ideas, rage, and despair at the shame of my own prior blindness. So, I finally surrendered, bit the bullet, began listening to her in earnest, and began writing, began speaking the truth to myself that I have resisted for so long.
Too many people would love for us to lose heart and believe these times are hopeless, that we have no power and therefore little reason to act. Do you remember that our nation began in a time when there was a crisis of faith, despair, and conflict? Our own history teaches us not to throw hope away because it is meant to be reborn during our darkest hours. Our challenge as Americans is to face ourselves and reclaim the heart of our republic. Our challenge is to bring forth a new day, a total change in our perspective and in the reality of how we are living as citizens.
Dear Reader, As I reflect upon the times we are living though, trying to understand them, to create order out of the chaos they are stirring up in me, I have been reminded of the following dream that C.G. Jung …