Politics Panel – November 2, 2012
Politics Panel – November 2, 2012
Archetypally speaking I think we are just where we need to be. I think we are the midst of our country’s greatest shadow confrontation since the Civil War.
The 2008 election of Barak Obama, in my opinion, was the final act in surfacing roiling and opposing racial, economic, social, political and religious interests and ideologies that have defined our country for the past 150 years. It has flushed those shadow dynamics to the sur- face where they are now being engaged on a manifest level as a full blown confrontation collectively and individually.
For much of the conservative right, Obama symbolizes most of the felt “evils” that threaten the very identity of the U.S. as we have known it: // Barak Hussein Obama (whose name sounds like Osama bin Laden to many) is Black, therein symbolizing one huge piece of our collective shadow as it reflects this country’s history of slavery and its legacy, rac- ism. He is also White, psychologically symbolizing an absolute taboo in
this country well into the 1970s, namely miscegenation. (In South Caro- lina, for example, the penalty for miscegenation was life in prison). Less than two years before his election his middle name, Hussein – which he has acknowledged he still cannot use publically -- symbolically carried the projection and name of the enemy – Saddam Hussein -- not only the enemy of this country, but for many in the whole of Western Civili- zation. Thus, to many he symbolizes the anti-Christ – namely, a Muslim. He holds to a policy of diplomacy first and military action as the last re- sort and is thus accused of apologizing to foreign powers for the impe- rialist policies and chronic wars perpetrated by the U.S. This is viewed by many as a direct betrayal of the Cowboy Hero archetype with which this country has been identified since the middle of the 19th century where to not prevail is synonymous with being weak and surrendering power, sovereignty and manhood. And he was elected on, and because of, a platform and promise of “Change.” Therein he has openly stated that he wishes to alter the identity of the United States. For significant
segments of the American populace this image is what is called up, con- sciously and unconsciously, when that man with the Black skin and nap- py hair shows up on TV and has the audacity to behave as if he were the President of the United States. For many of them he represents frightening change right down to the cellular level. And let us not for- get that a 2008 Census Bureau projection has estimated that ethnic and racial minorities will become the majority in the United States by 2050 and that about 1 in 3 U.S. residents will be Hispanic by then. For those of us who are White, that means that our children and grandchildren will be racial and ethnic minorities in their lifetimes.
If we are to be conscious and ethical, I think we have to admit that indeed this is what Obama’s election did mean and symbolize. // No wonder there are cries of, “I want my country back!” // If only we could have open and honest dialogue about these seemingly nightmar- ish scenarios as they are felt by many. And none of this says anything
about the 47%, Global Warming or corporate bonuses that go unnamed and undiscussed other than in code or euphemistically.
But our collective shadow increasingly is being forced into the open like dirty underwear for all to see and we are being forced to deal with it more openly and with increasing awareness of feelings and val- uesthatweownanddonotwishtosee. Ifwearetoevolvetoanew and hopefully more progressed political, social and economic paradigm, this appears to be the precarious map that is leading us to that possibil- ity. I believe this is what we are seeing in our political process today. There is no shoving the shadow back into the hole from which it has erupted. We are being compelled to see it through. The attendant ques- tion is can we survive the process?
When we read about shadow integration, it can seem like a fairly understandable process, though often resisted and unpleasant. But we all know what a shadow is and after all, it does go away at sundown --
doesn’t it? So if we just wait it out, another sundown will come tomor- row.
But not this time, I think. We are in it and it will play through. What we are experiencing, politically, economically, socially, environ- mentally, and spiritually is what shadow confrontation and integration – or the failure of integration – looks like. It is not pretty. And it is pretty dangerous.
I don’t think we are “on the brink of the in-breaking of a new ar- chetypal...” paradigm; I think we are in the midst of that process. In my view, we are exactly where we need to be. Psychologically, I cannot see another road map from here to there.
Psychologically and archetypally speaking, from my point of view, the single most dangerous thing that can happen in politics is "split- ting." Our country is split in almost every conceivable way: politically, economically, socially and racially. “Splitting” is a clinical term in psychoanalysis which refers to the individual's inability to hold the tension between opposite feelings, opposite emotions, thoughts, and behav- iors. From this standpoint there is a right choice and a wrong one and no possibility of both dynamics co-existing through creative struggle. Thus everything devolves into black or white, good or evil, the axis of evil (they are evil, we are good), and as President George W. Bush said at the outset of the Iraq War, “You're either with us or against us.” Contrast this with President Obama’s statement that, “To renew Ameri- can leadership in the world, I will strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity. Our global engagement cannot be defined by what we are against; it must be guided by a clear sense of what we stand for...” //
Lastly, prevailing archetypal forces do wane. Entropy is real. Thus the demise (hopefully) of the old American cowboy hero image who saves the day no matter what, always defeating bad guys in black hats, symbolized by John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and John McCain. Enter in a new national heroic image -- Barak Hussein Obama -- who carries all of the primary symbols of the American shadow and brings them into the light of day unlike anyone who has ever appeared on the stage of American politics. His mere appearance on TV is enough to trigger a startle reaction, myself included. Incidentally, most of the time he doesn’t wear any hat at all.
Entropy is real. But so can be the terror that accompanies the de- mise of the familiar and the entering in of the unknown. President Oba- ma is an instrument of those archetypal forces as well as his own per- son and our President.
In his first speech after being elected President he said, “Let’s re- sist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and petti- ness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.” Since then, if anything, the poison has increased and spread dramatically.
But the word “immaturity” is most striking to me. I don’t think we have ever heard a President challenge us to a “mature” stance, not just a better one. There is no mistaking it; he has challenged us and himself to a more mature and thus a more conscious stance in our politics. Here is a President challenging all of us to become more conscious.
Psychologically, characterologically and politically, President Oba- ma is committed to holding the tension of the opposites and not suc- cumbing to the pressure to split politically. I think that is the part of his personality that many of us, including me, can find so frustrating. His election to the Presidency, in my view, psychologically and archetypally, as well as politically, represents one of the most profound psychic shifts in this country’s history.
If we are truly in the process of an in-breaking of a new archetypal paradigm of a progressed nature, that is seemingly good news. At the same time, for me facing that hope that I carry, there are two questions which worry me most:
1) Are we ready to receive the light and new insights that could come from functional shadow integration? Are we investing energy in preparing for that potential outcome or are we too caught up in the chaos and craziness of the shadow confrontation/inte- gration/non-integration process to be able to see beyond that?
My second question is:
2) To what degree can we learn to be conscious and responsible co- evolutionary partners in this unfolding phase of psyche’s evolution? How do we prepare for paradigm shift? What if we do enter a New Age of possibility requiring new ways of thinking and new kinds of awareness? Are we ready? Can we handle that? Would we know it if we saw it? And what if we do blow it once again? Then what? Those are my greatest concerns.
George H.W. Bush
George W. Bush
9/11 and the “War on Terrorism”
An economy “back on track”
©Jerome S. Bernstein, M.A.P.C., NCPsyA. October 31, 2012 Page 10