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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

After the fall

Jose Padilla being escorted to a dental appointmentA letter I wrote appeared in the Madison Capital Times last week. It is pretty much a synopsis of what I have been writing in this blog for the past two years, and as usual, is an unedited first draft. In March I wrote about a simple plan for Iraq's future, similar to what I proposed in the letter. Variations on the theme are now being offered by many people.

My insistence on referring to the Bush regime as a criminal operation is also finding agreement among writers and makers of opinion. I don't feel so much like a tree falling in the forest.

Now I feel a little freer to move on, to take the analysis deeper. The question I keep coming back to is how this strange set of circumstances happened to us, the "American" people, and to the rest of the planet. I never felt it was as simple as a gang of criminals taking over the Federal government. There is more going on than this, something very deep in the "American" condition.

The best frame of reference for me is the metaphoric work of Carl Gustav Jung, and his theories about the human mind. Something very dark is in the collective unconscious of the "American" psyche. My use of the term collective unconscious is not literal in the Jungian sense, but the concept itself is not particularly conducive to literal use. The "American"" version of it can be described as how this universal form is evidenced in the social apparatus located south of "Canada" and north of "Mexico."

It is fair to say that the
archetype
of the "hero" is the most "American" of archetypes, and the most revealing of how we have gotten ourselves in the malaise in which we now find ourselves. We live in an age of appearance, so to appear as a hero is accepted as actual heroism. Thus Bush the deserter in his flight suit is a hero, but John Kerry, who actually is a decorated combat veteran, is seen as a coward. By the sophisticated use of propaganda, up can become down, and stupid can become smart, coward can become the man on a white horse, and evil can become good.

Another aspect of Jungian psychology that is pertinent is the notion of the "shadow," the repressed and denied part of our unconscious mind that, left unintegrated, often results in extreme attempts to project it onto others. Thus, we have the scandals of the supposedly reverend Ted Haggard, former congressman Mark Foley, the DeLay-Abramoff-Bush/Cheney corruption, and the scapegoating done by the likes of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, and their imitators.

In this context, it can be seen that the greatest example of repressed shadow, fake heroism, scapegoating, and appearance as reality is Bush himself. As we have been seeing this week, he is still in deep denial about Iraq, and the futility of his dreams of glory. For his own sanity, he probably knows in some intuitive way that if he admits to a mistake, an error, to criminality, and to arrogant blindness, his entire psyche will come crashing down, and his presidency will be over. He will lose his mind. He is a mental and emotional Humpty Dumpty, sitting on a wall. His precarious position on the wall depends on the world holding him up. The "neo-con" scheme to create a world empire must succeed.

As we are now seeing, the Project for the New American Century's plan for world domination was a psychotic dream, born of little men pretending to be heroes. With 20/20 hindsight it is easy to see that the grandiose scheme was doomed from the start, but their arrogance created belief and acquiescence. But how did we come to the point where such a criminal venture would gain acceptance?

The answer, I believe, is simple. The scheme came from the same perversion of consciousness that exists in the culture of appearance in general. Our storytellers, mythmakers, shapers of perception, are by-and-large from the media of movies and television. The images they project of what is real play a dominant role in determining what is real and what is not. The power of image-making seemed to have reached its pinnacle with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, who was convinced that he was a World War II hero because he played one in a movie.

But the delusions of Ronald Reagan were not the pinnacle. We now have George W. Bush, who became an instant hero by wearing a flight suit and landing on an aircraft carrier. If there were not an invitation previously to every frustrated male in the country to become a fake hero, there is now, inspired by Bush's phony excess.

I have known many a fake macho man in my life, and the modern variety of "right wing," "liberal" hating, gun-toting, pickup truck-driving tough guy is now ubiquitous. The most common variety watches O'Reilly and Hannity, listens to Limbaugh, and recites verbatim the mumbo-jumbo heard on these propaganda shows. Invariably these are people who wouldn't be noticed otherwise. Often they are in pathetic little jobs, but they might be people who are highly skilled and responsible. I have found an inverse relationship between professional stature and fake masculinity, but it is not necessarily the case. It really depends on the person, and the person's response to life's challenges.

Again thanks to Bush, this psychic house of cards is falling into a heap. It will be interesting to watch what happens as Bush melts away. Will the hate mongerers on Fox News also fall into a heap? Will the entertainment industry shift its focus away from vicarious violence and sex? Will men start examining what the hero archetype is really about? Time will tell. I may not have 20/20 foresight, but I believe an enlightened age awaits us. If we see it as our only option, it just might happen.
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Here's a few good reads: Click, click, click, and click. Also this, this, and this.

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