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. This book is my effort to recognize an unexpected, nightmarish time as an extraordinary transformational moment. More often than not, such moments are rooted in shocking events, conflict, fear and anger. But if we can accept these dark moments and look through them, the path toward a new vision of life will unfold.
One of the most difficult aspects of converting change into opportunity is fully accepting our reality. This book is my impassioned effort to look in the mirror to see our social reality as I have experienced it—including its dark side that too many of us have denied—and to initiate ideas for change. Believe me, if we don’t become partners in initiating the changes knocking on our doors, they will kick our doors open. Then they will force us to pay a higher price than was originally asked of us.
At the stroke of midnight, noon is born. At the darkest hour of the night, the approach of a new day begins, and there is evidence for hope. Yet I know all too well that before we get a glimmer of light, there is darkness, both in the approach to the turning point and after it. The presidential election of 2016 was a midnight hour for me, and I wrote this book as part of my struggle through the bewildering pre-dawn hours of concern for the state of affairs in our nation. As I wrote and struggled with my experience and our reality, I became convinced that we must not lose heart but rather answer the call. The call of the future is to redress our failures to act and to acknowledge our blindness to our social problems— including the large numbers of fellow citizens who are suffering, being hurt and dehumanized by the character of our society. But, even more than that, I had to face my denial of how I was being damaged and dehumanized, and so were my children and grandchildren.
I was raised, and raised my children, in a culture where denial came all too easy. The artful denial of problems and of the crying need for changes was coupled with a persona that reflected a rigid maintenance of a positive attitude. This combination only strengthens our problems and fills them with a power that is unseen until it explodes in our faces. It is more obvious than I like to believe that we naturally tend to avoid delving into the complexity, emotional impacts, and confusion of problems calling for major changes. Seeking to penetrate and understand the roots of problems demanding real change, whether personal or societal, requires all of the powers of our hearts and minds. For this very reason you may find some of this book as hard to read as I found it to write. Facing the fact that we citizens have been asleep at the wheel of our democracy for decades without realizing it is as bitter as midnight is dark. But it is the first step toward a new day.
Today is our time in history. This is our quest, the challenge the future has put in front of us. It is also a time for us to remember the great heritage which is our strength. Our nation, America, has had the ability to stand up to any challenge, no matter how difficult it has been. It is time for us to be engaged, to be in the arena with heart and soul.
The opening chapters of this book reflect the experiences of my midnight hour. Clearly, I am not writing to bash any candidate or political party. The rage and shame I express are symptoms of the deeper issues I want to face. My concerns begin with looking into my rude awakening to the disappointment, meanness, cruelty, violence, and indifference that lie behind the prosperous façade of the society we have created. Accepting this reality lays the foundation for a new path into the future. I openly share the rage and shame that come from facing my part, my blindness, in helping to create this society. My hope comes from our heritage, our potentials for change, and the solutions I present and discuss.
As I was writing, I used my experience in living for over eight decades—my life as a Jungian psychoanalyst, writer, and lecturer—my years of working in business—my time as a volunteer in inner-city poverty areas—my participation in our repressive, positive-thinking zeitgeist—and as a member of a cross-generational family ravaged by a warped health and mental health care system—to trace how over the decades we Americans have veered from our country’s highest values of democracy, liberty, equality, and opportunity for all toward indifference, blindness, and overbearing self-interest.
In this book I am very clear that I am no enemy of capitalism. But I am a critic of the heartless capitalism and predatory power structures we feel too weak to oppose. As we learn how to confront ourselves and answer the call of the future, we can rediscover our power in the heart of our democracy. When our past and our reality are seen clearly, the vision can release us and become a torch lighting the way into a new day. We can change our world because that possibility is built into the U.S. Constitution, and we have changed the world many times before. Now is the time for us to step into the challenges of the future.
The above is the Chapter One of my book The Midnight Hour: A Jugian Perspective on America’s Current Pivotal Moment.
Book Excerpts and Resources
, 2020, America, citizenship, living authentically
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