Post WWII times found intellectuals and artists seeking to deepen their understanding of human nature to find ways to avert the devastation of another world war. Carl Jung articulated a theory of archetypes and work in psychiatry since has confirmed that Jung’s understanding of human consciousness, of the mind and soul as peopled with various energies and intents, has proven true. The main point he made is that everyone has a dark side. Even Mother Theresa. He was not promulgating the Western Christian idea of being basically hopelessly sinful, but bringing our view in line with what other civilizations recognized already. We have a shadow.
So, as I write in my lime green journal, trying to find the thread of thinking that would make what I view as extreme cultural polarization in my country make sense, I’m wondering how to get the disaffected whites who are rapidly becoming the minority, the immorally super rich who live insulated from the effect of their extreme luxury on the rest of the citizenry, the angry black people who are asserting their lives matter more than my white trash life does, and the fundamentalists who don’t think deeply about what Trump is saying but like that someone is defying the status quo — how do I get these people into a real conversation, into hearing one another, and having some empathy?
The polarization has a great deal of heat in it. Why the passion of the liberal writer who mocks the right wingers? Why the redneck defiance that would rather shut down the damn government than give in to the dehumanizing sell-off that has been accomplished economically on the watch of the past several administrations?
I revert to questions. Why has our country been put on auction? How did it happen with educated, prosperous people who supposedly didn’t want another world war?
I think that the Dunning Kreuger effect may play into some of my well-intentioned liberal sentiments: there’s a high correlation between exuberent confidence with a lack of knowledge, with low cognitive ability. We just think we’re great, think our system is good, when it isn’t at all. If the right are pessimists, then we liberals are optimists.
Economically the USA is closer to feudalism than I’d really like to think. The health care scam and the continual dehumanization of weaker groups are bits of evidence that democracy, as I learned it in school, is seriously broken. (Or never existed?)
A deeper question underneath this public display of inhumanity and disrespect toward any other person or people group who doesn’t agree with our politics, is how do our beliefs allow us to forget our humanity? Just because another person’s position is “wrong” how do I get to be indecent in my speaking or actions? Hateful, shaming and hurtful, even?
I’m really concerned for the co-opting and squashing of voices that are not going along with this polarized culture. It is like reverse (inverse?) racism. People who say “all lives matter” are publicly shamed and bow to the agenda, “black lives matter.” Why? Well because white people are privileged. There is absolutely no historical mention or present understanding of the hardship that the poor white, the trash as it is acceptable to refer to them, have endured to survive. (Can you imagine referring to blacks as “trash” nowadays?) Whites, Scots in particular, were enslaved before or at the moment of their arrival in this grand country. If they lived beyond the Revolutionary War, legally they were freed. But free to follow Boone into wilderness, or strike out onto the prairie to squat, but they did not have lives anyone by any stretch could call privilege. Not for generations did some of these people do more than eek out an existence, enslaved by the Industrial Revolution and then spat out by the Dust Bowl and Depression. And not only the Scots of course. We don’t talk about the history of struggle we just look at the privilege they now enjoy. Well, as a white woman who grew up poor, I have had a few breaks, but now I’m the enemy? Really? All races are being economically oppressed right now in the USA. How dare we divide and call each other the damned?
What we can’t talk about is the oppressiveness of immoral power in the hands of the super rich. This is economics of power, not race, people. What we can’t do is realize that there are a raft of people groups — the majority who are not benefiting from modern corporate and governmental deals — and that we are really all in the same boat.
No, when we get our fundamental Christian system going in our head, then there are the damned. The liberals. And the liberals vilify the conservatives in the Bible belt just the same. All these citizens really believe, or fear, that they are surrounded with the damned. Just my social group is saved. Just my club.
We all think we are on the side of good. And we’ve seen two public candidates trying to articulate an anger, a fed up-ness with this shiny, rich country which is not nurturing it’s people, but lurching off into feudalism at an appalling pace. There are problems we don’t really want to hear about. Well, not on the media, controlled by four corporate entities.
How does the position of being ultra wealthy lessen the moral weight of our responsibility? How can people in the valley where I live own two million dollars worth of cars and not care that child poverty has grown rapidly in our county? It is indeed harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then, isn’t it?
Well, the poor are the damned in the minds of some. Poverty is shaming. Power is saving. The dark side of the fundamentalists is a violent self-righteousness. The dark side of liberalism is a doctrine of inclusion and diversity that promotes inverse racism. It is a do-gooding acquiescence to the “rigged” system because we have paychecks.
I am rather worried that the tone of much of our public life has become rude and egotistical. I was shocked that at the Olympics last night one of “ours” insulted a Russian with name calling, who was clean and clear to participate. The stupidity of the reporters who made hay of that little act of snobbery was the most appalling. It was like a teenage girl. The anchor was playing it up rather than ignoring it. That hints at a new wave of Russia hating that is not good. And mainly really poor sportsmanship. Like in the political campaigning being aired. The whole idea of the Olympics was to bring together nations to compete in excellence and forget their historic grudges.
So, now there’s old people hating. And hating white people whether they are rich or struggling to make ends meet in some hick town, and there’s hating the immigrants, even when many of the Latinos who get the heat are citizens…and fear. There’s fear underlying this behavior.
Whatever group you identify with — I’m an educator watching my almost middle class status evaporate — watching my job be co-opted by huge testing companies and an over-developed administrative structure –and I have to remember my dark side. Teachers often do more shaming and harm to the creativity of growing children than we want to face. Teacher unions back the wrong leaders and muddle the political machinery. Teachers buy into the idea that our job is to create manpower for a corrupt business system — depersonalizing it by calling it the feared “global economy.” Are we really creating a literate, thinking public?
Like other Americans, we just get tired and want to do our jobs efficiently and go home with something left over. It is taxing and tiring to read deeply and think what the real issues are.
I still do not understand the cultural war in my country, which has been apparent for a generation now, at least. I only have questions. Why the heat? Why the anger? Why mock the voices of discontent?
We are not going to get big money out of politics with this polarization. We are not even really going to talk about or face the issues of violence and economic immorality — the real problems with our nation — because we’ve got two sides who think they are perfect and living in the light. Two sides spinning their wheels to go after the other, both believing they are saved and the other damned. And that works fine for the big bosses and those who have sold our country down the river. Nobody is going to notice what they are up to.