Healing America's Political Divide


projections-jung-unknown-face-jungcurrents-2“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.” ~Carl Jung, Aion, Christ: A Symbol of the Self, Pages 70-71, Para 126.

“There’ll just be four of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year. We’re a politically divided family.”~Overheard at Whole Foods Market the week before Thanksgiving.

They’re Rioting in Africa

They’re rioting in Africa
They’re starving in Spain
There’s hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.

The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
The french hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much!!

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away!!

They’re rioting in Africa
There’s strife in Iran
What nature doesn’t do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.

At 14 I was fascinated by the profundity of this song. When has the world ever been at peace?   Certainly not since Jesus preached a gospel of peace. And obviously not before that either, or else he wouldn’t have needed to preach it.

Why don’t we learn from our mistakes? Because for most of us, history is a powerless abstract concept that has nothing to do with us. But there is something with the power to change us: a painful experience of our personal shadow: our ego’s inner opposite.

The Shadow is our unconscious side, the part of us we don’t know about and don’t want to know about. It’s far more fun to blame others than face our shadows. So we unconsciously project our shadow qualities onto people who remind us of them, and we derive great pleasure from excluding, vilifying, and blaming them.

Naturally, they resent this, so in retaliation they project their shadows onto us. And there you have it. Our outer world mimics the inner conflicts between our “good guy” egos and “bad guy” shadows while we sit back enjoying our outrage and tut-tutting with pious self-righteousness. In my opinion, nobody describes this phenomenon better than my favorite minstrel bard, Kris Kristofferson.

Kris+KristoffersonJesus Was a Capricorn

Jesus was a Capricorn
He ate organic food
He believed in love and peace
And never wore no shoes

Long hair, beard and sandals
And a funky bunch of friends
Reckon we’d just nail him up
If he came down again

‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
Who they can feel better than at any time they please
Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me

Eggheads cussing rednecks cussing
Hippies for their hair
Others laugh at straights who laugh at
Freaks who laugh at squares

Some folks hate the Whites
Who hate the Blacks who hate the Klan
Most of us hate anything that
We don’t understand

‘Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
Who they can feel better than at any time they please
Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiAkCALqEbg&w=560&h=315]

“I swear he was reading my mail when I was in my forties! His songs are still among my very favorites…I used to refer to him as “my favorite philosopher.” Still, often, I felt a twinge, and wished that he wasn’t singing about me.” Comment from a viewer of this video.

14470608_1364095146964017_1336560227455489139_n-2He was reading my mail too.

We won’t heal America’s political divide until enough of us heal our personal ones. Have you ever caught a glimpse of your unknown face? It’s easy to see. Just notice who you look down on tomorrow.

Credits:  Gratitude to Lewis LaFontaine for the quote images. They’re Rioting in Africa:  Written by Sheldon Harnick, Sheldon M. Harnick • Copyright © BMG Rights Management US, LLC. Jesus Was a Capricorn:  Written by Kris Kristofferson. Jesus Was a Capricorn lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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14 Responses

    1. Thanks for writing and sharing your recent post. Good stuff. I agree that the epidemic of hidden anger and hatred in America is a major reason he was elected. My concern is where that anger and hatred come from: i.e., the dark, unconscious parts of ourselves we’re afraid of. As I see it, the only cure for that is ruthless self-examination and radical forgiveness of ourselves for being flawed and human. Coming to terms with our hated dark sides breeds compassion for the darkness in others. And compassion for the otherness within and without is the only thing that can heal an individual or a nation.

  1. Hi Jean,
    This was an excellent description of the Shadow Archetype that lurks everywhere. I also very much enjoyed the “servingothers” blog post. I always have to remind myself that Trump is only incidentally a human being and is possessed by the Ego/Power Archetype that has fascinated us all and will play out in both positive and negative ways. I think Bill Clinton, George W., and Barack Obama were also possessed by this same Archetype, but it expressed itself in much different ways with each one of them. Perhaps that is simply the nature of the “King” Archetype? As the Chinese proverb goes, “May we live in interesting times.”
    Dick Jungster

    1. Well said! Yes, the King Archetype has pro- and anti-social qualities like all the others. The problem is, the power and authority we invest in our outer Kings in the world extend their reach to the masses in ways that influence history, whereas the influence of yours and mine is far less potent! Obviously, Hillary has a well-developed King too, but from what I know of her, she has an equally well-activated Queen, and it was that aspect of her which gave me hope for our country…. Thanks for your thoughtful observations.

  2. Hi Jeanie ~ Regarding the Jung quote above … it seems it would make more sense if it were to read, ‘…when the individual remains divided…’ (rather than Undivided). What do you think?

    1. Hi Richard. I see what you mean. Because one would think that undivided is the goal. It is, but only when one is consciously undivided. I think he’s referring to the preconscious sense of undividedness held by an immature, unconscious ego. Or perhaps a better word would be minimally conscious. In this preconscious state, the ego has no awareness of the inner other; it thinks it is the only inhabitant of the inner world of the psyche. And so if it does not experience an awareness of the other within, and if it does not experience terrible conflict with this inner otherness that forces it to become more aware of something other than its own wishes and desires, it never has an opportunity to grow into true oneness and wholeness. Does this make sense to you?

  3. Thanks Jeanie very much. This reminds me of removing the log in one’s own eye before ‘bogging’ on another. What a wonderful opportunity to look into one’s own darkness when we find ourselves looking down on another .. if we could only accept the gift offered.
    Kris Kristofferson – sigh – one of my favourite persons.

    1. Yes, the log as a precursor to the shadow! But it’s a monumental task to see either. It’s just the way we’re made. Once I committed myself to looking for my shadow I naively expected the process might only take a few years at most. Ha! Foolish human. I’m still discovering new aspects of it. But I’m grateful to Kris….sigh….for being one of my earliest trailblazers.

  4. Thank you, Jeanie. I love the lyrics. For so long, I wrestled with my shadow on my mother-in-law. Yes, she was a pain and still is, but I was so wrapped up in disliking her and reacting to her that I knew the shadow hook was deeply embedded in me. It took many years of wrestling to get that hook out. As you know, life has given me lots of opportunity. Then up pops the shadow elsewhere,
    I also paused at Jung’s use of the word “undivided.” Thanks for your response to Richard’s question about that word.
    I think of Trump as one of those unpopular spoiled boys in high school (Dearborn, Michigan) whose Daddy was a top Ford executive. The kid with the red convertible and the harem of girls from the poorer side of town where the assembly line workers lived. How is it possible that one of those losers became King of Media? And President? As I’ve been saying for a year now, this would be fascinating if it were happening in someone else’s country.

    1. Thank you, Elaine. I love those lyrics too; they’ve both been favorites since I first heard them so many years ago.
      The shadow will always be with us. It has an important role in civilizing us. If we had no shadow we’d be all instinct with nothing to motivate us to grow: consciously, ethically, spiritually, socially……. Nothing to hope for in the way of a better future for ourselves and our children and the world. Nothing to strive for, no ‘great work’ to challenge and ennoble us. I’m convinced we will rebound from this. The something in all of us that wants to surpass ourselves and unite with love is as integral to human nature as the shadow is, and it won’t abandon us any more than the shadow will.
      As for that spoiled boy in high school, we were the lucky ones. We went for quality and never looked back! 🙂

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