Facing the Shadow: How We Can Take Back Control
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
by George Washington
The main thing keeping us from fixing our problems is our faulty assumption
that it would be impossible or take too much effort.
We bite our tongues because we don’t have quick and brilliant oratory skills,
not knowing that studies show that we simply have to speak our minds to make
We assume that we don’t have the necessary level of barroom-brawl type testosterone,
forgetting that courage actually comes from the passion to protect something
We keep our heads down and try not to rock the boat too much, not realizing
that united we stand, protected.
We have lost all energy because we have lost hope, failing to see that hope
is not an emotional mood that others give us, but fierce determination to make
the world a saner place.
The problems are admittedly vast, and we have gotten ourselves in quite a pickle
– things are falling apart all at the same time, in many different ways.
But we are stronger than we have realized in our sleepwalking trance over the
last number of years, and we can face the problems and reclaim a better life.
Facing the Shadow
Deepak Chopra wrote a widely-read essay yesterday, saying:
The question of torture won’t go away. It would be easier to talk about
moving ahead… This is one of those moments when painful truth is the only
way to heal…There are demons in the closet, and shutting the door on them
won’t make them go away. Better to deal with it now…Lay everything out,
however painful. The aim should not be punishment but detoxification…Not
only should the right wing and the war-makers tell the truth, but so should
those politicians, including Democrats, who passively went along with what
their conscience told them was dead wrong…Then let’s see where the truth
leads us…The road away from torture is the road back to America. Can we
all agree on that?
In the past, the vast majority of Americans never wanted to bother learning
much about where money comes from, how the banks operate, or the laws that govern
the economic players. We assumed that someone – the Fed, the Treasury, the government,
the SEC, someone – would keep a steady hand on the tiller and keep the big boys
honest. As a New York Times Op-Ed said last year, "the delusional optimism
of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking … should get its share of the
blame" for the financial crisis
Barbara Bush famously said about the Iraq war: "Why should I waste my
beautiful mind on something like that?" Indeed, the classic image of our
relationship as civilians to those in the military, special forces and clandestine
intelligence forces is that patriotic "rough men" (using Tom Clancy’s
phrase) would do the necessary, unsavory things to keep us safe, and that we
should not even ask – let alone question – what they do in our name.
Because we are so civilized and don’t want to get our hands dirty, we have not
questioned where our meat comes from. We didn’t even know that much of it is
raised in factory farms which are disease incubators for swine flu, antibiotic-resistant
staph, and other plagues.
What do all of these things have in common?
Our failure to face the shadow side of life has allowed unscrupulous characters
to muck things up.
That’s why we’re in this mess: we haven’t been willing to face the shadow side
of things. We’ve wanted to keep our hands clean, and so we’ve let others do
the dirty work.
But we’ve been letting others run amok for so long that they’re literally destroying
our basic economy, our fundamental national security, our health and our way
Not Too Late
Its easy to kill a monster while its small. Its very hard to get rid of the
darn thing once its full-grown.
Because we haven’t dealt with the shadow side of life, the problems have gotten
pretty big. The tentacles from the military-industrial complex, Wall Street
and the industrial meat lobby have entwined themselves in more of our formerly-democratic
institutions, and its become a little bit harder to pry them out of our government
Should we despair that its too late? Should we whine and give up hope?
Well, about a month before the American Revolutionary War, Patrick Henry said:
“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable
an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the
If not now, when? Like Patrick Henry asked, when will we be stronger?
We missed the chance to kill the monster when it was still small. Let’s act
before it gets much bigger.