Consciously holding the tension of the opposites within our own awareness without splitting off and identifying with either of the opposites (either optimistic or pessimistic) is an intrinsic super-hero power that we all possess, knowingly or unknowingly. Interestingly, holding the tension of the opposites is experienced as—and symbolized by—a veritable crucifixion of our limited egoic identity. Is this to be genuinely imitating Christ and, as he counseled his followers to do, to be carrying our own cross?
What is not widely recognized, though, is the underlying germ that makes the politics of division so viable. Our culture teaches us in subtle but countless ways that division works – that it is necessary for creating safety and enabling control. We soak up this lesson, learning first and foremost how to divide the self. That lesson is stressed and locked into our bodies by our public schools: achieving success there means suppressing the body’s intelligence and sitting still (and you’d better learn to throttle the body’s energy, or you’ll get in trouble) so that you can fill your head with the right facts and lessons.
Emotion-phobia is endemic to our culture and perhaps to patriarchal culture in general. Grief, perhaps the most inevitable of all human emotions, given the unalterable fact of mortality, is seen as an illness if it goes on too long. But how much is too long? My mother, a Holocaust survivor, grieved actively for the first decade of my life. Was this too long a grief for genocide? Time frames for our emotions are nothing if not arbitrary, but appearing in a diagnostic and statistical manual, they attain the ring of truth. The two month limit is one of many examples of institutional psychiatry’s emotion-phobia.
But action doesn’t depend on what might happen. The authors of Savage Grace want us to do the right thing, regardless of what occurs. In their previous book, Return to Joy, the authors advise seeking not “happiness,” a Jeffersonian goal, but a state closer to such virtues as equanimity and compassion, plus resistance to evil and devotion to service.
Introduction To Savage Grace: Living Resiliently In The Dark Night Of The Globe, By Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker
Let’s get real and face together the likelihood that the human race now has two possibilities before it: An extreme crisis that leads to the survival of a bedraggled and traumatized remnant in a vastly degraded world, or the total annihilation of that world. We can never rule out, of course, the possibility of a sudden evolutionary leap in humanity or even miraculous divine intervention, but we would be narcissistic fools to count on them. We have come to the current situation because we have drunk a deadly cocktail of illusion. Our only hope now, rugged though it is, is in daring to live beyond the need for any kind of magical thinking—beyond, in fact certainty of any kind. We must take complete responsibility for the horror we have engendered and for the response we are now called to make to that horror, whatever happens. Such a response demands of us something far deeper than what conventional religions and visions of activism call for–nothing less than living and acting from the Self, both without illusion and totally committed to compassion and justice even, if necessary, in hopeless situations.
In my quest to master impermanence, all that I continue to let go of, liberates me further from the illusion that I no longer subscribe to. I confess that I’ve yet to discover a means of removing myself completely, and from bearing witness to the nightmare the illusion is. I remain open to the possibility however; a possibility free from denial, despair, mood altering substances, altered states, pharmaceuticals, anti-depressants, or other dramatic measures that only serve to hinder the evolution of the Soul. As much as I want “out”, if I am here at this time to be fully present, holding space and bearing witness to the end, so be it. Mastering impermanence—as a middle aged nomad in a 30 foot RV—may just be my ticket to sanity (and enlightenment?!) in these increasingly insane times.
Those who self-identify as “The Resistance” must understand one thing: Trump is no accident of history, no aberration. He is the logical outcome of the system that preceded him. If you would fight against him, you must fight against that system.
In many ways, Trump is the symptom not the cure. When there is lack of genuine leadership and a loss of meaning at the heart of culture hypocrisy can become a collective illness. An old idea suggests that hypocrisy on the part of powerful people is more dangerous than other crimes; but self-deception on the part of common people is more dangerous than hypocrisy. There is some hope in the fact that recent polls show that a growing majority of people, including Independents and Republicans, feel that Trump is both untruthful and untrustworthy
So whether you choose to perceive the dissolution of the American Dream as the hero’s journey or as the collapse of industrial civilization—or both, the American Dream was fated to fail each time the collective refused to be instructed by something greater than itself.