Thursday, December 21, 2023 #5

 Recently I listened as a discussion began among friends about human hatred and this comment jumped out:

“Well, haven’t the Americans also hated the Russians, too?”

Bells went off in my head…of course, I thought, the Americans have a long history of tension, contention and conflict with the Russians. Ironically, following World War II, when the Russians were America’s allies against the Third Reich, there has been an escalation in the political rhetoric, as well the brinkmanship of the Bay of Pigs, when Khrushchev attempted to install cruise missiles on the Russia-friendly island of Cuba. Even with the ‘calm’ of the Reagan-Gorbachev talks and the ‘fall’ of the Berlin wall, a brief interlude in an otherwise tempestuous relationship, the Americans have, as a matter of foreign policy, military preparedness, and political rhetoric adopted a ‘hard-line’ approach to Russia. Occasional friendly vodka toasts, for example between Clinton and Yeltsin, while providing photo-ops for both leaders, can be seen as another brief interlude in an otherwise ‘tense’ relationship.

There is, nevertheless, a canyon of difference between these chapters in U.S.-Russian, diplomatic and even threatened military exchanges from the kind of political vermin coming out of the mouth of the twice-impeached, and multi-charged ex-president, these last few days and weeks. To put it bluntly, (and this is definitely not rocket-science; it is clear to all!) trump is bereft of anything that remotely resembles a consciousness about geopolitics, diplomacy, and international relations as both an academic pursuit and a practicing professionalism. There is only a ‘personal dimension’ to everything about trump: like a pre-adolescent school-yard bully, (the antithesis of Peter Pan!), trump sees things from the lens of how he can and will manipulate others into his ‘orbit’ or destroy those who resist such manipulation. From such a reductionistic, simplistic, extraordinarily immature perspective, (not to mention its narcissism!), only a zero-sum game’s rules, regulations and protocols can and will apply. ‘Since I must win, you can choose either to be a part of my victory, or you can lose, and in losing you will lose everything, including your character which I will assassinate!’

The vermin of racial contempt pours out of trump’s mouth, openly, loudly, brazenly, and tragically with impunity and even applause; it is indiscriminate in its choice of targets: refugees, migrants, ‘spoiling the blood of the nation,’ and within the country, Blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ+, and all variations of ‘difference’ in racial colour, religion, geographic origin. White supremacy run amok! All trump needs is to don a KKK sheet to finally identify himself as he truly, and heroically, sees and believes himself to be. And, immediately adjacent to such poisonous rhetoric (and belief), there is a kind of pre-pubescent adulation for tyrants, dictators, and autocrats.

The world still is attempting to wrap its head around the bare fact that some 74 million Americans voted for this trash in 2020. (So is this scribe!) Why would so many sentient human beings be so easily seduced, manipulated and lulled into a form of voluntary submission, if not outright intoxication and dependency on this wannabe dictator? There are so many layers to this political, anthropological, psychological, and even ‘religious’ phenomenon…that it is only with a sense of abject dismay and desperation, knowing nothing one either induces or deduces will suffice. Whatever kind of analysis one attempts can only fail miserably, leaving a gigantic mystery to be more fully unpacked over the ensuing decades, if not centuries.

The pursuit of the goal of achieving the top rung of the nation’s financial and fame totem poles, at least in his own mind, might be a ‘too-kind’ lens through which to interpret his motives. And the acquisition of wealth is a goal to which many of his countrymen and women both aspire to acquire and to be inspired by models with a high public profile. That public profile, too, is another potential obsession of the ex-president (and never-to-be-again!), in a culture in which ‘fame’ both for laudable, ethical, moral and altruistic motives, as well as for infamy of the anti-hero, is a national cultural meme, aspiration and human-motivator-magnet, especially for the young.

Fake it until you make it,” however, is the oxidation that rusts all metals. And it is the fakery, the obsessive embrace of the ‘trickery’ of ‘pulling the wool over the eyes of everyone’ that is one of, if not the most compelling driver of this kind of mind-set. If we peer into Greek mythology, in an imaginative search for a ‘god’ or voice that might come close to a symbol for this kind of chicanery, we might find Hermes, messenger of the gods. In Roman mythology and religion many of Hermes’ characteristics belong to Mercury, a name derived from the Latin merx, meaning merchandise and commerce. Hermes began as a god with strong underworld associations. He was a psychopomp, leader of souls along the road between ‘the Under and the Upper world’….Hermes has been understood as a chthonic deity (heavily associated with the earth and/or underworld. ( That lens may, however, be less incisive than choosing the Greek goddess Ate, the goddess of mischief, delusion, ruin, and blind folly, rash action and reckless impulse who led men down a path of ruin. She also led both gods and men to rash and inconsiderate actions and to suffering. ( Generally, in mythology, a trickster is a mischievous or roguish figure in myth or folklore who typically makes up for physical weakness with cunning and subversive humor. The trickster alternates between cleverness and stupidity, kindness and cruelty, deceiver and deceived, breaker of taboos and creator of culture. Tricksters pla8y an important role in the folklore and culture of the United States. ( (Library of Riverside City College)

Legendary among indigenous peoples, tricksters represent the paradoxes of human existence, prompting thoughts and images of gods and spirits who play pranks on both humans and other gods. However, in a culture drowning in a literal perspective, deploying language exclusively in literal terms, manipulating ‘physical reality’ as it’s primary if not sole ‘function’ which easily morphs into ‘purpose’, the national capacity to perceive trickster as symbol, as image, as a character in legend and folklore, through the active imagination has been so deflated, even drugged with empiricism, moralism, and perhaps even anaesthetized. There are not only the literal ‘drugs’ on the streets and in the gangs. There are also cultural drugs, like the drug of “power” and the obsessive pursuit of extrinsic power, through the willful conditioning, training, manipulating and rewarding of the personal ‘ego’ that has become the Achilles Heel of the American culture. “Power” is like an aphrodisiac, another ephemeral, ethereal, odorless, tasteless, invisible gas that glides through the conversations at all levels of the American life.

Through a literal lens of proving the existence, value, relevance and significance of everything and everyone, the national active imagination has been, and continues to be rendered lifeless, and, as many have declared ‘we’ killed God, ‘we’ have collectively also ‘killed’ the active imagination. Busily engaged, if not actually consumed, by the pursuit of recognition, achievement, public adulation, trophies, scholarships, legacy admissions, investment portfolios, high office, ‘we’ have dedicated our personal, family, educational and even occupational and professional energies to ‘climb higher’ and to reach the mountain top, however we perceive that mountain top to be. “Exceptionality” for Americans is nothing less that ‘the best’ in the world. And the price of exceptionality, well whatever it might be, it pales in comparison with the actual achievement. While that may be one approximation of the cultural mind-set, it fails to acknowledge the actual costs.

The competitive impulse, while universal, can be said to have roots in a ‘survival’ instinct, if we are to relate to our ‘animal’ origins. And even Darwin did not champion the ‘strongest’ in his theory of the survival of the fittest; he championed the one most adaptable, flexible, open to and accepting of change. Have we misread another of the seminal thinkers of our era, in our obsessive-compulsive drive to be the most ‘alpha-male’ image we can achieve? Have we also failed to take account of the mythic relevance of voices, gods and goddesses, (not actual men and women), in our headstrong pursuit of literal, empirical, and thereby unquestioned and unquestionable ‘victory’. This image of victory is currently impaling the government of Netanyahu, in is ‘mad’ commitment to erase Hamas from the face of the earth.

Is this “erase Hamas” goal, a vindictive and echoed chant in response to the ‘erase Israel from the face of the earth’ chant of the Iranian leaders and their proxies? Another of our ‘aspirational’  yet clearly unachievable, unattainable and thereby imprisoning us on the horns of our own psychic dilemma…hoisted on our own petard, as it were. Putin too is engaged in an obsessive-compulsive ‘erasure of fascism’ in Ukraine, knowing fully well that not only it such a goal unachievable, unattainable and thereby embodying his own self-sabotage. The “power” drug, is ubiquitous in its multiple iterations, capsules, photo-ops, press conferences, bombings, drone attacks, imprisonments of the likes of Navalny and Kara-Murza, as well as the multiple iterations foaming and fuming from the mouth of trump himself.

And the consumers of this ‘power-drug’ are those of us, who, for our own personal, political, psychological, economic, idealistic perceptions and aspirations, whether for or against something called ‘the public good’ or for a more intense, and nefarious ‘iconoclasm’ of the trickster, personally, nationally and perhaps even globally.

There is a clear and unmistakable ‘madness’ to the American, if not also the world political theatre at this period of history. And the madness cannot and must not be attributed solely and exclusively to the name of a single man or women. We all share in this madness! And, if James Hillman is right, not morally, or religiously, or intellectually, but rather psychologically, in his inseparable linkage of the anima mundi (the soul of the world) to the psyche and soul of the individual (for Hillman the soul is a way of seeing), and Hillman notes that ‘in our madness lies our essential myth’….then it is only if we are prepared, patient, deeply reflective and highly and openly imaginative will we be able to begin to wrestle with the madness that is gripping us all.

How and why are so many of us seduced and tricked by the trickster model, the ‘pot of gold (power)’ at the end of every imagined personal, national and global rainbow? Is our own trickster so repressed, muzzled, and considered so defamed and depraved morally, that we no longer even know what happened to that voice? Are we so overwhelmed with our own pursuit of ‘an identity’ of success, in the eyes of the world, through the active and disciplined engagement of our ‘personal ego’ that we have lost sight and sense of our many other voices, and myths, and gods and goddesses.

In our marriages, for instance, are we blind to the tension that has to exist and also to emerge, between a view of marriage as a kind of joyous coupling party (Eros) and a view of marriage (Hera) that holds to the responsibility of a healthy commitment to continue and enhance the civilization of which we are all intimately a part. That simple example, mostly out of reach of many couples, is fraught with tension between two people who, while having known each other for various time frames, have never had a conversation about their reconciling of those two notions….perhaps until it is too late to recover the relationship.

Heroism, whether in the form of athletic, academic, artistic performance, military victory, political victory, financial ‘victory,’ has so many winners, and so many millions more who are still struggling for a meager portion of the whole ‘pie’ of necessary resources like clean water, enough food, sanitation, the dignity of work, education and health care. We are so committed and embedded in the convention of championing the ‘winners’ (defined in our shared terms of the hero), and so loath to confront the 600,000 plus (in the United States) and millions more around the world living on the ‘street’ as it were.

Drunk on the chicanery of the trickster, immune to even our own angst (complicatedly seen as ‘unworthiness, failures, rejects, misfits, miscreants, colonized, segregated, alienated, fired, obsolete, too old, too stupid, uneducable…etc.) we are hardly in a position to confront the vortex of obvious and dangerous existential threats.

Waking to our mythic voices, both personally/individually and collectively/culturally, might be another ‘sight-line’ to a different kind of consciousness, based on the real, authentic and totally renewable resource of our active imagination, whose limits we have barely even noticed let along begun to mine.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023 #4

While in conversation with a practising political operative, I heard these words, “If you want to engage this population in a social change, it has to have a ‘task’ associated with the change.” The same observer also advised a professional group of ‘change-agents’ attempting to move government policy, law and practice, “You will have to frame your proposal on the basis of an already-established policy, law and practice. Your proposed change is more likely of achievement if the government can ‘see’ it in a pattern they have already established.” In another conversation with an executive of a arts and culture non-profit, in a discussion of a somewhat ‘left-field’ idea and project, I was asked, “Have you been here before, to see and to sample what we do?”

My answer, somewhat sadly was, ‘No.’  And then the conversation meandered through data and perceptions of the demographics of the local area. The bottom line of that portion of the conversation was that multiple generations in the area had participated in an industrial economy and were not interested, nor had time for ‘ideas’ or for ‘learning’ or for ‘newcomers’ with ideas for learning. Ideas and new learning would be feasible, and therefore worthy of the effort, if directed to the youth, was the essence of the observation.

Demographics, patterns, tasks, frames of consciousness, embedded in a culture in which medical and legal, scientific and professional vernaculars not only rely on ‘tasks’ and ‘categories’ and ‘classifications’ and ‘conditions’ have combined to generate a cultural perspective of “task” and “classification” or ‘condition’ or diagnosis.

We are the aged or aging; we are ‘rich’ or ‘poor’; we are ‘educated’ or uneducated’; we are ‘connected’ or ‘loners’; we are ‘from here’ or ‘from away’; (and the nature of our arrival conditions our acceptance, reception, tolerance and integration); we are engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, clergy, nurses, social workers, politicians, economists, scientists, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, heavy-equipment operators, arborists. And with each ‘designation’ comes a vocabulary, a tradition of practice, rules of the profession, a social ‘fit’ or position, a current and projected income or stipend, a fully developed intrinsic and applied ‘mask’ of identity. As patients of the medical profession, we are as soon and as definitively as feasible, labelled as a “case” of X, or Y….whatever and however the nomenclature and our symptoms align. And the treatment is then designed to address the symptom(s), to reduce the pain, to prevent recurrence of the pain, or to manage the pain.

At the core of this model is The Enlightenment, and the triumph of reason, scepticism and the potential of analysis and understanding that can and will only come from reason. “Cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am… Descartes) to be later followed by sentio ergo sum (I feel therefore I am) or facio ergo sum (I do therefore I am) or for the existentialists, “sum ergo…cogito, sentio, facio….and apparently missing in the line of evolution is what we might conjure as, ‘conjecto ergo sum’ (I imagine therefore I am)

We swim, breathe, munch on, converse about, perceive and value those aspects of our existence that we can ‘categorize’ and ‘manage’ and ‘control’ as if we are ‘in charge’….and then we fall off our cliff or pedestal when those ‘frames’ of both our reference and perception, and the meanings and purposes of those ‘tasks’ or ‘conditions’ fail to integrate or ‘compute’ with what we might consider our hard wiring, or even the soft wiring of our education, our theology, our ideology, our ethnicity, or our family tradition. Just to sustain and uphold our ‘stable’ connection to the universe, based on our previous rational thought, we defer to the ‘experts’ whose writing, academic credentials, economic prowess, political power and stature, religious and/or theological and/or ecclesial stature whose opinions, research, theorizings, speculations and even imaginings serve as touchstones or guideposts to ‘frame’ our perceptions and attitudes of the world, our place in it, and the ‘condition’ or ‘classification’ of ‘the other’.

It is not only true, but also tragic, that, as Emile Zola reminds us, ‘We are like books. Most people only see our cover, the minority read only the introduction, many people believe the critics. Few will know our content.” Although none of us would want to live in a world in which our ‘inside story’ were open and available, like a book on a library shelf, inviting all readers, nevertheless, there is a kind of isolation, alienation, and separation from others, and even from ourselves, in a world in which only the ‘book covers’ have a place. Think of a library housing only the hard and soft covers of thousands of books, without the pages of the content of the writers’ imagination, research, thought, creativity and passion.

And yet, like ghosts we walk into and out of our ‘rooms’ and ‘chores’ and encounters and even our walks in the forest or along the river bank, replaying those audio and video ‘tapes’ of both our experiences and our initial interpretations and meanings of those experiences as if they constitute ‘our biography, our life, and our place in that life. Occasionally, we will encounter an experience, perhaps a chat in a coffee line or a bank line, or a supermarket line, that hits a note of insight, or harmony or surprise and wakens us from our comfort zone. Occasionally, too, we might catch a glimpse of a sky painted with clouds and back lighting that evokes a film we have seen or even a feeling that seems to capture the mood and the feeling of the sky portrait….and we ‘feel’ part of something different from our daily chores, circles and frames. And that experience, for some might even be a little ‘strange,’ or even disorienting, or perhaps simply a ‘wow’.

Psychologists and psychiatrists tell us, based on their adherence to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) that we are not our ‘diagnosis’ even though their professional modus operandi strictly adheres to its dictates in their perception, allegiance and treatment modalities. And, the archetypal model, deeply embedded in the Western culture, of ‘pain/suffering/depression/anxiety/grief/and many psychic conditions, that while we manage the desperation, we rarely delve into its roots from the perspective of models and mythic figures from the history of our species. Superficially, Apollo and the Apollonian, in literature, relating to the god Apollo often means ‘harmonious, measured, ordered, or balanced in character comparison to Dionysian, from Dionysus. In the nature of human beings, Apollonian and Dionysian theory represents two fundamental forces in our nature. Apollo represents clarity and intellectual progress, while Dionysus represents disorder and emotion. Anthropologist Ruth Benedict, used the terms to describe cultures that value restrain ad modesty (Apollonian) and ostentatiousness and excess (Dionysian). Musicologists describe musical compositions as veering between Apollonian and Dionysian tendencies. The Renaissance polyphony of Palestrina is Apollonian-0serene, balanced, ordered—while the early Baroque vocal music of9 Monteverdi is Dionysian-exuberant, expressive, dramatic. Another pair of concepts closely parallel to Apollonian and Dionysian are Classical and Romantic, and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)  historically forms the nexus between the two. Beethoven apprenticed in the world of Haydn and Mozart, perfecters of what has come to be known as Viennese Classicism. Beethoven inherited their solid forms and logical procedures of thematic development. However, he came increasingly to embody early Romantic attitudes, both personally and aesthetically. (As Donald J. Grout wisely reminds us: ‘He himself is neither Classic nor Romantic; he is Beethoven.’) Such works as the Third and Fifth Symphonies push through the boundaries of t18th century decorum, both in terms of intensity or emotional statement and of sheer length. We thrill to the ‘daemonic energy’ (Grout’s words again) of Beethoven’s mature works, its volcanic and exuberant qualities, its bumptious humor and demented fury. (

The ‘both/and’ of Beethoven’s ‘nexus’ between Apollonian and Dionysian, however, seems to have been largely eviscerated from both our lexicon and our perceptions, attitudes, and tight-assed culture and its expectations. There is no Fifth Symphony without both Apollo and Dionysus. And there can be no Mandela without both. And there can be no individual human being without both. And there is no individual human being without both. And we sacrifice more than the demonic, the demented, the abnormal and the unacceptable by denying Dionysus, culturally and psychically.

As the Greek god of wine-making, orchards and fruit, vegetations, fertility, festivity, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstasy and theatre, with the capacity to transform himself in to a bull or lion, with the power to drive mortals insane, Dionysus has been effectively and essentially left to the poets, the thespians, the playwrights, and the composers and the artists. Of course, for the purpose of making money, and thereby for the purpose of designing ‘creative’ advertising, and even the cliches of political character assassination, we defer to the Dionysian as a means to our ‘end’. Commercializing Dionysus has sadly, demonized and yet capitalized on his capacity to generate great revenues and produce wealthy business tycoons.

In a moralizing, literalizing and ‘book-cover’ culture, we fall easily into our own seductive moralizing, legalizing, medcicalizing and some kind of faux ‘comfort zone’ of both compatibility and compliance. And we fail to acknowledge the full nature of our reality…not only cultural and societal reality, but also our psychic depth and reality.

In order to re-capture the fullness of our own ‘interior book’ as well as the fullness of the ‘cultural soul’ (anima mundi, from Hillman), we can begin to look in the mirror of our person, not only from the perspective of the pain and anguish we have endured and perhaps overcome, but also from the perspective of the ‘madness’ that is neither our immorality nor our enemy. There is just as much risk in an over-fed Apollonian, as there is in an over-fed Dionysian. And there is even more risk in a culture reliant and dependent on Apollonian thinking, restraint, mind-set, expectation-set, and tolerance-limit. And the limitations of such an extremely leaning cultural vessel, verging on capsizing, can be seen in multiple political, psychic, economic, military, environmental and relational stages and theatres.

In and through our complicit, if somewhat unconscious, obeisance to the Apollonian, and the requisite ignoring of the Dionysian, we are in danger, as Hillman reminds us of ‘mass suicide’….all the while wondering why this (and the many this’s) is happening.

Peering through the fog of compliance, complicity, unconscious adherence to the literal, the empirical, the ‘book-cover’ of our many shared ‘issues’ we are trying to see differently, and to ‘read’ the pages and the tea-leaves and the symphonies that we have heretofore missed, or failed to recognize, both within and without.

Our headlines, our project analyses, our diagnostics and our treatment modalities, in each and every one of our endeavours need the lens and the courage and the imagination of both Apollo and Dionysus…And the balance, really a new attempt to ‘see’ and to ‘hear’ and to ‘read’ both ourselves and each other, and the world itself…is available to each of us, irrespective of our faith, our ethnicity, our ideology, our philosophy and our needs.

In fact, the inheritance of the mythical world is awaiting our dedicated anthropological, psychological, historical and poetic ‘dig’! 

Saturday, December 16, 2023 post #3

 Just as Mandela had to walk into and through a myriad of both differences and discrepancies, primarily those that divided the whites in South Africa from the majority blacks as well as the Indians and the Afrikaners (Boers from Holland), underlying the depth and the malignancy of the divide was fear, and the concomitant ‘fear’ that including fight and more flight. Flight, given that all South Africans were ‘native’ to their national land boundaries, was not really an option. Following the arrival of the Afrikaners, the English arrived drawn by the prospect of ‘getting rich’ through the discovery of both gold and diamonds.

Between 1899 and 1902, the South African War was fought between Great Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics—the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. British military far outweighed South African, from 500,000 men to a meager 80,000; nearly 100,000 lives were lost, more than 20,000 British and 14,000 Boer troops. While Black Africans were recruited and fought on both sides of the conflict, the peace treaty, the Treaty of Vereeniging, specifically excluded Black Africans from having political rights in a reorganized Sough Africa as the British and Boers cooperated toward a common goal of white minority rule. (from

For us in the west, and in North America, the status, mind-set, attitudes, fears and resentments of the Black Africans, along with their deep respect, honour and adherence to traditional tribal values, rituals, dress, menu, and pride, remain mostly a series of black letters in the history books. We can read those letters, and we can imagine and we can empathize, to a degree. And yet, it is a very large leap, of both consciousness and unconsciousness, to put on the sandals and the isikhakha or imibhaco (elegant textile shirt) of Mandela’s Xhosa tribe. We are foreigners in a foreign land, and more importantly, humbled by anything resembling what might be presumed intellect and imagination and empathy, that we might fully appreciate how deeply ‘colonized’ and dominated, subverted and spied upon, deprived of minimal rights, and condemned to contempt, openly, legally, criminally and culturally. As a first step, we have to both divulge our historic white-man’s sense of superiority, inherited in large measure from our European ancestors, from rationality, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, the hierarchical model of social and political structures, beliefs, legal frameworks and all of this culturally and imaginatively aligned with and supported by the church.

Our foreign-ness, innocence, ignorance, and actual cognitive, emotional, psychological, and even spiritual divide, as European-bred and educated men and women to the Black Africans, is perhaps analogous to our foreign-ness, innocence, ignorance, and actual cognitive, emotional, psychological and spiritual divide from the Indigenous peoples who have lived in North America. In her book, The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere, archaeologist Paulette Steeves argues that the settlement of the Americas may have occurred closer to 130,000 years ago. (University of Nebraska Press, from CBC Radio, Ideas, January 13, 2022)

For the longer term perspective of attempting to ‘make the case’ for a very different, ideally liberating, and yet highly challenging metanoia, to the perspective in which we ‘North American whites’ have been enculturated, it might be both useful and illuminating to begin to peek into and even to try to integrate some of the thinking that has emerged from The Great Law of Peace, as our entry into a path of discovery, not only into the mind of the Handenosaunee peoples in the northeast of North America, or turtle Island. Entitled, KAYANERENKO:WA, The Great Law of Peace, is a book we open in our tepid, yet honest, somewhat curious, yet in awe, respectful, and yet, shameful, determined to do the work, yet doubtful of ‘walking in the moccasins fully of our indigenous ancestors. We North American ‘whites’ have to acknowledge centuries of ‘missed opportunities’ to embrace, integrate with, and to respect and honour our indigenous ancestors. The cancelling of statues, for example of John A. Macdonald, as a way of paying homage to our sins of both commission and omission, will never fully atone for our racism, our bigotry, our fear, and our outright white supremacy.

A March 20, 2021 piece in the Hamilton Spectator, by Darren Green, President of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, we read:

The apartheid laws introduced by South African governments were all adapted from laws that had been introduced here in Canada 10 years earlier…March 21, 1960. Dateline: Sharpeville, South Africa. Sixty-nine Black men, women and children were shot in the back while fleeing from police: another 180 were injured…Colonization, the reserve system, the Indian Act, the introduction of Indian agents—all were put in place by the Canadian government. Colonization had begun in earnest. There was a real fear that if Indigenous people congregated, they would forma resistance similar to the Northwest Rebellion of 1885-an insurgency led by mainly Metis and their First Nations allies against the Canadian government….The pass laws of that time prevented large spiritual gatherings, helped enforce the Indian Act and pressed for assimilation. It was a precursor of things to come including residential schools….The Pass Laws Act (in South Africa) of 1952 required Black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a pass book, known as a dompas, which means “dumb pass,” everywhere and at all times. While previous versions of the pass were not for Black women, this new law covered everyone. Men and women had to find a way to support their families so they often broke the law to find work in fear of being caught…The Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), a splinter group of the African National Congress (ANC) created in 1959, organized a countrywide demonstration for March 21, 1960, for the abolition of South Africa’s pass laws, Protesters were encouraged to bring their passes, surrender them and ask to be arrested. In Sharpeville, a township 50 kilometers outside of Johannesburg, over 20,000 Black women and children gathered to protest the pass laws. Police officers opened fire. Submachine guns were used and 69 people were killed; 180 were injured. Both PAC and ANC were outlawed. This was a major event in the apartheid era. When Nelson Mandela was released and became president of South Africa, he chose Sharpeville as the location to sign South Africa’s new constitution.

Recounting this story from Dennis Miller, serves as a reminder of our deep affiliation, connection and shame to the Black Africans, as well as to the Indigenous people in Canada. One of the political differences, however, is that world opinion, seeded, engendered, fostered and delivered through the persistent and indefatigable courage of men and women like Mandela, offered a surge of political, legal, diplomatic and historic energy to the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa. In Canada, for many reasons, not the least of which has to be the camouflage of church-government-operated residential schools, that, while defaming and abusing indigenous children, as uncivilized, barbarian and un-Christian savages, provided a cover for the public officials who were making the primary decisions. I am reminded of a visit of an Australian high school student, under Rotary sponsorship, who, in a grade twelve English class, was asked, “What is the difference between American racism and bigotry and the racism and bigotry in Canada?” She replied, without skipping a breath, “Oh that’s easy: in America the racism is all on top of the table, for everyone to see, while in Canada it is all under the table!”

While we are wont to record historic events in dates, places, numbers and documents, rendering them specific, literal, empirical, actual and thereby capable of sharing without refutation. There are other ways to ‘record time’ and it is the longer-term, less concrete, less literal, and less rigid adherence to a concept of time that seems appropriate to ‘appropriate’ from the Haudenosaunee people, not as a false “imitation” but rather as a model from which to learn. If we are ever going to free ourselves from the rigid militaristic, and conventional ‘religion’ of ‘time management’ and ‘appointment precision and perfection’ and scheduling and prescriptions of regularity, and organizational schedules and vision statement, ‘envisioning’ the next three years’ goals’….and collectively begin to appreciate, not merely cognitively but imaginatively as well, that we are grains of sand on a global beach, part of the timeless of the universe, a much more than modest shift, a transformation in a large portion of our perspective will have to be given to acknowledging, and to embracing, and to integrating a universal, alpha and omega, in time, if not necessarily in theology (although for many cultures they are related). And our clocks, calendars, decades, quarter centuries, half-centuries, centuries and even eons will not suffice.

If we are all going to try to move from an intense perspective the wrong way down the telescope (magnifying the immediate, the literal, the sensate and the seemingly urgent) to trying to turn the ‘scope’ around, we will be then ‘seeing’ a wider, longer, and obviously less ‘defined’ image. One of the models for such a perspective, comes from the Haudenosaunee people. In a section of The Great Law of Peace, entitled, “Considering the Coming Seven Generations,” we find:

In weighing any decision, the rotiyanershon (Male Chiefs) are instructed to consider the effects of their choices on the seven generations downstream from them. This long view is one of the arguments in favour of the stability of Haudenosaunee governments: men with a life term in office will be able to more confidently consider future generations, whereas leaders with a short election horizon will tend to be more eager to satisfy the short-term appetites and concerns of the voters:

How shall we do that our chil(dren) shall have many days. Therefore you consider carefully in regard to this matter….they must have a regard…also for those children whom we have not yet seen…We must look to see how it’s going to affect those future generations. How are we protecting?” How are we safeguarding? You have to protect those future people. They don’t have anyone else to protect them. When they stand there maybe sixty or a hundred years from now in a society which may be very hostile, when they stand there looking for a house or looking for a place to live, they are going to look back in time and say ‘Who was that who gave away my land?’ Everyone will be gone but the names will be there.

Why seven generations? Even the oldest and most productive among us can know and see only our great-grandchildren—four generations. WE may know the people who can before us, as well. Looking forward, looking back, our perspective may span seven generations. But to consider unto the seventh generation is really to say that our thought must go beyond our physical capacity to see; they must go downstream and around the bend of the river. It is not an unreasonable period of time—but it is beyond what we can see around us.(Kayenerenko:Wa, Kayanesenh Paul Williams, pp. 357-358)

There is so much to learn from the indigenous peoples, in Canada, as well as those in other regions of the world. They all bring a tribal mythology, tribal rituals, customs, and a perspective of their place in the universe far less driven by the immediate, scheduled, appointment-goal-resume-personal reputation-driven of the inherited European culture in North America. And for the
Haudenosaunee, there is a clear rejection of the Christian belief, that we are made in the image of God and thereby are “the ultimate beings in the world, the end of evolution. Things change.”

Sotisowah John Mohawk observed:

Things flow from sources which have roots deeper than individual talents of society’s gifts. They flow from nature, and the sacred beings who designed nature. In one embraces the initial premise, that human beings were extremely lucky that of all the places in the universe, they have a home just the right distance from a sun of just the right intensity, that there is enough water, grass, and enough of everything. From there, it’s a small step to accept that whatever created all that is a force of unexcelled sacred dimensions and the will of that force is something people should try to cooperate with to perpetuate life. The way the group expresses its cooperation is through ceremonies which recreate the conditions present when people first came to consciousness of these things.

Humankind’s relationship to nature projected in this precolonial, pre-patriarchal, pre-modern story carries a fundamental and unchanging truth, but one which subsequent generations would need to relearn over and over. Humans exist in a context of nature, and not vice versa. Everything we have ever had, everything we have, everything we will ever have—out health, our good looks, our intelligence, everything-is a product not of our own merit but of all that which created our world. That which created our world is not society, but the power of the universe. Nature, which is the context of our existence, is sacred. A significant manifestation of nature, the regenerative power of life, is also sacred, and we who walk about on the earth are not without obligations to perpetuate this system, the ‘work’ of the Giver of Life, in the greater scheme of things. (The Great Law of Peace, p. 37)

If we in contemporary North America are ever going to be able and willing to imaginatively, authentically, fully and unreservedly ‘try to walk a mile’ in the sandals of either Mandela or our indigenous peoples, we are going to have to see ourselves very differently in both time and in nature, to the perspective and the parameters of the European/Christian tradition, as well as the oppression (not in the abstract, but in the real time and real flesh) of the colonial mind-set, the colonial governance, the colonial superiority (assumed and presumed as inherited from the religious and cultural traditions) and the colonial insensitivity to the minority native peoples and their authentic identity.

And this process is not merely an intellectual, or a sociological, or a political exercise. Nor can it be reduced to a merely psychological exercise, as if we were entering some experiment in empathy, compassion. We are also going to have to release much of our fear that what we perceive as the reality of the universe, and our place in it, is not either the only one or certainly even the optimum perspective.

Next: how some of these perspectives have been both construed and applied as ‘benchmarks’ of our individual and our collective capacity to ‘see’ and to ‘integrate’ and to ‘relate’ to our reality.

Thursday, December 7, 2023 Post #2

Mandela’s life-long fight was for political, legal, and human rights equality for black Africans, Indians and Afrikanners. Class segregation, laws and regulations, court cases, investigations, prison sentences and even the death penalty all supported the policy of apartheid. His life story, in Long Walk into Freedom, details the many personal, legal, organizational, and even military and quasi-military strategies and tactics, the search for common ground among potential allies, both within South Africa and beyond, to the rest of Africa and even to the United Nations. Similar, if far less dramatic, historically significant and painful, movements have taken place for various causes in the over-all campaign for human rights around the world. Amnesty International, for one, is a robust, courageous, creative and penetrating non-profit on behalf those individuals who have been deprived of their legitimate human rights, in various jurisdictions. And their work needs both more dollars and more letters to be written on behalf of those without a political voice. Oppressors, as is their wont, are minimally, if at all, impressed and/or moved to change their abusive decisions, no matter the size or the clarity, the source or the duration of any and all campaigns to bring about the release of unjustified, illegitimate, illegal and both untenable and unfathomable detentions.

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of well-meaning, honourable, integrous, authentic both individuals and non-governmental organizations, working 24-7-365 to combat global warming and climate change. They are finally getting some, still far too little, attention from the world media, many of whose organizations have already ‘committed’ to support the many initiatives designed to combat any increase in global temperatures. While 1.5 degrees Celsius has been the threshold beyond which climate scientists have warned us that extreme catastrophe is likely, we are now seeing more and more reports that it is highly unlikely we will hold to the 1.5 degree threshold. We already know that 2023 is the hottest year on record, confirmed by the UN official at the COP28 climate summit. Global temperature is projected to warm by about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050) and 2-4 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. While these figures are both astounding and also somewhat abstract, (we do not think in degrees on a thermometer!), there is a serious, even existential risk to every person currently living on the planet, and certainly that risk also extends to any new-borns who will arrive in the next few decades.

Attempting to address this shared crisis, (we all breathe the same air, drink from the same water sources, and plant seeds in and harvest from the shared soil, under the same sky), governments and their various agencies, non-profits, for-profits and individuals are all (at least the majority) are finally acknowledging the dimensions, both in danger and in time, as well as in costs, to this crisis. The old arguments about the validity of ‘acid-rain’ back in the 1980’s seem more like an American-Canadian political ‘zit’ today, compared with the monumental size and danger we all face. No international body, integrating both governments and non-profits and for-profits, has been aggregated, organized, funded and set to carry out specific mandates, with both adequate funds, adequate and even muscular sanctions and increasingly needed educational programs that not only disseminate the available research (itself in a flowing river) but also design new delivery methods, monitoring systems to determine the effectiveness of the educational and informational efforts, in each country. Such a system/program would also be able to discern specific resistances, and begin the hard job of attempting to penetrate the most granite and impermeable of these resistances. (Start with the global coal industry, and the need for proponents of fossil fuels not only to open to other energy options, but to overcome traditional, deeply embedded dogmatic and psychological commitments to ‘how we do things here’ as a cultural, political, economic and ideological mantra.

The pace of the change we all need, does not apply only to the climate issues; it applies also to the cyber revolution, in which the technology has already surpassed both the cognitive appreciation of its power, now and in the future, but as importantly and consequently, the political/legal fences that must be erected around what is now the ‘wild-west’ of cyberspace. While there are admittedly, positive contributions we might expect from both AI and quantum computing, and these benefits are still evolving, there are also serious ethical and even potentially existential threats from the unleashing of these devices and their evolving and sharpening capacities. As a consequence of this gap in both our knowledge and certainly our comfort level, this galloping monster, in the hands of a very few highly trained, and highly creative and highly motivated men and women risk losing touch with the general public, a force on which most democracies have to depend.

We already each in our gut ‘know’ in ways that exceed, or defy, or even refute the kind of sociological, demographic, political and economic data in which we all swim daily, that we are experiencing a malaise whose dimensions seek and grasp in the fog for the kidn of data that warrant the collective, official attention of those charged with making decisions on our behalf. Doubtless, too, those men and women, in all countries, have the same ‘gut’ responses, as we do, and either sit on them for fear of awakening in the relevant “public” so much consternation that the costs of that would bring people into the street, with a ‘malaise’ that has no specific medical, legal, political, ideological or even theological or spiritual name.

We have become so dependent on such a name, for every thing that bothers us, to the point that we have, in the latest DSM

(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) designated ‘grief’ as a mental illness, needing treatment. This is only one single piece of data that calls out for its astounding degree of co-dependence of the culture on the medical model. And it is that very model that is suffocating and drowning then health care professionals and their respective institutions. We are all drowning in a psychology that has helped to shape our own demise. We have fallen into the collective, cognitive, social, political, economic, legal/medical swamp (no specific individual is responsible and we are not draining the swamp here). The swamp is the manner in which we ‘see’ and evaluate, and program, and educate and ‘treat’ each other….through collective eyes, ears, and brains that are dependent on and hold in high honour the literal, the empirical, the nominal and all that goes with it. If and whenever a piece of behaviour is deemed to be outside what we consider acceptable, moral, legal, ethical, healthy and learned, we deem it ‘abnormal’ both vernacularly, and professionally. We either criminalize, or medicalize that abnormality for ‘treatment’ both by the appropriate professionals and the appropriate system, and its relevant institutions. This ‘perception’ and the value systems, the supporting academic and professional practice protocols, the economic and financial systems, and the leaders in each of these respective ‘theatres’ are all engaged both consciously and clearly somewhat unconsciously in perpetuating this ‘ethos. James Hillman calls the ethos, or the culture, the anima mundi, the soul of the world.

Before, dear readers, you rush off into a frenetic frenzy worried about the occult, the mystical, and the astrographic outer limits of any visions you might have conjured from reading the last paragraph, please bear with this scribe.

Collective, willingly and somewhat unconsciously, we have all adopted what we have been taught, modelled, and fitted into, in our education, our careers, our families, our professions and our expectations of what the society ‘should’ or even ‘must’ look like. For those, like many of Mandela’s enemies, who considered his ANC to have been infiltrated by the Communists, this is not a revisiting of Marx’s Das Capital. Nor is it an updating of Mein Kampf, as some others will be wont to use that rhetorical bullet, much in the way many religionists have deployed scriptural verses as ‘bullets’ to shoot down their liberal opponents. We live in a culture in which ‘war’ and the unleased, ungoverned and ungovernable actions of pursuing a total win, in a zero sum game, give way, permit and even encourage the most horrendous of acts by humans against other humans, with a degree of both impunity and the complete absence of shame, to which no animal would submit or surrender. Any thought that ‘we’ have ‘dominion’ over the universe, evaporates when we compare ourselves to animals. And the arrogance that accompanies that literal theology, regardless of the sect, denomination, or religion itself, is part of what we are going to have to shed.

Indeed, whether its roots come from national and patriotic pride, or ethnic superiority, or linguistic nuance, or artistic professional training and experience, or from academic prowess, or even from ‘the right religion’ , these attitudes and the psychology that seeds and sustains them, will have to be re-considered, re-evaluated, and collectively on a global basis, reconfigured. Facing the convergence of global crises,  none of which bend to denial, or refutation, or erasure, or even moderation or amelioration, through incremental baby steps, this scribe is inviting each reader here present to revisit the cell of Nelson Mandela, in the state of mind, and the legal and hopeless state of the situation he and his comrades faced.

In the spirit of a 6 x 6 cell with bars on an outside window, sentenced to an unknown period of punishment for having willfully, consciously and deliberately confronted a system that was literally, and also metaphorically, spiritually, economically and politically “killing” the spirit of his people, let’s try to imagine, first what Mandela might have been considering, (as he ironically completed his legal exams from the University in London, while at Robben Island) and contemplated his options on behalf of his people.

It is the spirit of Mandela, irrespective of his legal education, or his specific tribal affiliations in the Transkei, or his specific and relevant and highly committed band of comrades, although certainly not without such support and determination, that we can all, through our imagination, put on the Madiba shirts, adopted from Indonesian batik clothing, made of cotton  or silk, and pick up the torch that he has ignited in the human spirit to defy similar, if national and not international, forces that were suffocating his people.

We can begin to ‘see’ ourselves differently, from a single ‘ego’ with a burden of multiple and necessary responsibilities, scratching out an existence, in the face of seemingly never-ending climatic, political, military, pharmaceutical, ideological, and especially narcissistic personal ambition, all of it having donned the robes of respectability, wealth, power, status, and both ambition and control. And those of us, without a voice, (the 99.5%) living in both developed countries (this scribe is in Canada on the border with America), and in developing countries, those with or without formal or gig employment, men and women, engaged in all forms of healthy and productive enterprises have to find a band of climate freedom fighters (think Bill McKibbon, and Gerta, allied with and joined to a band of freedom fighters (think Nader, Moore, Malala et cetera), joined to a band of legal and financial scholars with a commitment to the global “public interest” (think Trilateral Commission and what would be an imaginative reiteration of such a commission), a global media coalition, whose voice (think Ted Turner, not Rupert Murdoch)….all of whom have the interest and the commitment to fight the kind of opposition that Mandela and his band of freedom fighters faced, without losing either hope or determination…

Of course, all of this is quixote, coming from an imagination on steroids….but what are the alternatives? To limp along, piece-meal by piece-meal, in segregated silos of both data and thought, each of them protecting the interests of themselves, while protecting and preserving the ‘inside dope’ that holds each of the silos together.

Coming out of our silos, whether they are sanctuaries, mosques, synagogues, financial towers, academic ivy-clad cloisters, or even television and print newsrooms, pharma labs, or the millions of classrooms around the world. Let the children be heard! Let the people living on the streets of our cities be heard! Let the men and women from the seniors’ residences be heard! Let the millions of  silenced people, many of them government opponents, out of their cells, and out of their imprisonments…..let the bells peel and  the organs play and the bugles and trumpets blare, and the megaphones unleashed from the political correctness that threatens to impale us on our own ‘propriety’ and fiddles while Rome (at this moment, the whole world) burns. Some of the people in charge, it seems, see themselves as  arsonists who then want us to give them the gavel of power so they can put out the flames they have ignited, as our heroic rescuing ‘firefighters’.

And this arsonist image applies to those engaged in illegitimate and unjust war, murder, rape, bombing, drones, and the eradication of both nations and people, both with impunity and no risk of curtailment. It is the model of no risk, full impunity, full immunity, no accountability or responsibility that threatens us all…and focusing on a single “fire” in a single capital, in a single country, is proving to be perhaps theatrically interesting and magnetic, as is all car collisions and local factory fires. Nevertheless, such a fixation risks the macro global picture which needs the muscle, brain, imagination and political will of each of us.


New section to old blog: title, cell913,

First entry:

A renewed energy to the global 'malaise, from an old optimist

 Every day we read, listen to and converse about the multiple, existential tragedies, wars, plagues, fires, droughts, famines, rapes, murders, racism, sexism, ageism, loneliness, over-doses. In the course of our reflections and conversations, we often make reference to the names of various personages, corporate, academic, political, theatrical, punditry and even occasionally ecclesial. There are a few prominent ‘story lines’ into which our perceptions and attitudes can be clustered.

Among them are the ‘second-chance’ personal success stories, following a tragic and perhaps traumatic ‘fall.’ Another story line concerns the oracular voice-discovery of some women. Another concerns the dysfunction of many democracies. Another focuses on the depth and range of evidence disclosing an impending global climate disaster and the tepid work, in terms of impact, of those dedicated to ameliorate the impact. Another focuses on the number of billionaires newly created by global capitalism, while another focuses on the largest number of refugees and asylum-seekers in human history.  Another focuses on the impact of social media, especially among the young who are also seriously and demographically enmeshed in the opioid and fentanyl trafficking and mortalities. Another focuses on both/either the war in Ukraine and the war  in Gaza and the limp and fainting support for both Ukraine and Israelis/Palestinians. We must not overlook the rising tide of COVID and the foreshadowing of a ‘next’ pandemic along with the now-conventional perception that vaccines, as for the flu, will/have become the norm for reducing both the chance of infection and the severity of symptoms for those who succumb. Just today, former Secretary of Labour in the Clinton administration, Robert Reich, in his newsletter:

The suicide rate of 14.3 deaths per 100,000 Americans has reached its highest level since 1941, when America entered World War II.

This piece of data is in an essay entitled, ‘America’s anxiety disorder’. He continues, Maybe the widespread anxiety and depression along with the near record rate of suicide, should not be seen as personal disorders. Maybe they should be seen-in many cases, as rational responses to a society that’s becoming ever more disordered.

Reich references economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton from their book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism: the deaths of despair among whites would not have happened, or would not have been so severe, without the destruction of the white working class…’

Reich then adds, (I)n addition to providing more and better access to mental health care, and a suicide and crisis hotline, shouldn’t we try to make our society healthier?

At the close of several newscasts, recently, a good news segment attempts to offer a glimpse into a ‘feel-good’ antidote to the horror of the first twenty-eight minutes. Not inappropriately, these feel-good stories attempt to provide both hope for an audience drowning in both faux information, and excessive empirical data that begs both curation and exegesis, neither of which the majority of the audience is either educated nor patient enough to undertake. The forces that would ‘deconstruct’ the established institutional order , deploy billions of freely contributed dollars from donors who support their agenda, for the purpose of lining their own investment portfolios. Under the guise of capitalism, wearing a self-righteous heroic and superman hat of saviour from the hordes of socialists, and vermin and governments that would destroy the nation, the narcissistic, fascistic, tyrannical, autocratic ‘deconstructors’ will attempt to seduce individuals and groups into buying their ‘snake oil’ and have already formed unofficial, somewhat indetectable, and uber-dangerous cults, in the interests of advancing both their propaganda of saving the world from fascism and providing an ethnically pure white dominating race.

There are a number of foundational perceptual lenses into which all of this flows, and out of which only predictable outcomes will emerge. Literalism, empiricism, science, legal evidence, based also on literal, empirical scientific evidence, medical professions that not only rely on the literal and empirical but actually fertilize, nurture and harvest even deeper and more intense adherence, loyalty, commitment and even dominance of these methods. We have all become purveyors of, consumers of, and devotees to a gospel verging on a theology of the ‘outer life’…in the physical, natural (outdoors), academic, professional, career, family and even ecclesial worlds.

At the same time, the inner life, both of the individual and of the ‘soul’ of the world, have been not entirely, but inordinately undervalued if not actually subsumed into the many fogs of ‘the arts,’ the mystics,’ the ‘philosophers,’ the ‘poets,’ and the occasional therapeutic professional. Into this vortex, we all consume, through advertising on television and social media, extensive invites to try a pharmaceutical approach to whatever physical or psychic pain we might be suffering. And the pharma industry, along with the insurance companies, themselves, have a new and unprecedented strangle-hold on both the access to and the nature of much of the health care we engage with. The tension between the privatized/privatizing features of the health care system, (depending on the country) oscillates generally in the favourable direction of privatizing.

Similarly, social programs including pensions, food stamps, disability supports, family care supports, day-care supports, old age pensions, including health care itself, are on the radar of all those who seek to generate a for-profit universe that would necessarily be controlled and dominated by those considered to be ‘elite’ thinkers, elite experts, and elite winners based on the accumulation of wealth and power under the laissez-faire capitalist approach. The grudging and penurious and even denyingly resistant among some, to coming to a globally-designed, globally monitored and enforced, effective and pragmatic complex of solutions to the real and undeniable threat of extinction (at least for millions of human beings) perhaps serves those actors well in their personal resume-padding and career advancement. However, that approach enmeshes the rest of us in their personal, private, conspiratorial scheme, much the same way the government of South Africa enmeshed the black Africans, the Indians and others in their deliberate apartheid scheme to not only hold on to power but actually to expand their abusive power in order to accomplish their nefarious, narcissistic and fascist aims. And while the process in South Africa both preceded and followed the Third Reich, the cancer of white supremacy infected both schemes.

There comes a moment in each personal life, when one has to make hard decisions about how one is going to continue to live. Whether that means breaking off an employment contract, or a marriage contract, or a commitment to an academic program, or a seismic change in location, life-style, health-care responsibilities, or even belief systems. And while such moments are both extremely risky, both in their initial conception and inception, as well as in their execution, there is a quality of ‘it must be done’ to them. For some such moments are so dangerous that they refuse to acknowledge either their need or their possibility. For others, many of whom have gone through their own ‘existential moment’, they will understand intellectually and emotionally as well as psychically how important such moments are, for those who approach them honestly, authentically and courageously.

Whatever approaches might have been tried, to resolve some gordion knot or other, in the view of the protagonist, while perhaps partially working, have not succeeded in generating the perceived necessary changes. Such moments carry with them inherently both a death and a new birth…they are not able to be confined and contained in a simply right or wrong equation of morality, ethics, religion or especially public tolerance and acceptance and approval. Indeed, these moments, by their very nature, lie outside most of the normal parameters of morality, ethics, public tolerance and approval and fall somewhere into the category, in the public mind of ‘s/he has lost his/her mind, or ‘s/he has always seemed to be very stranger, different and with some kind of mental problems. And the ‘collateral damage’ (to borrow a war term) of such momentous decisions is very difficult both to predict and to prevent. Some might call the moment ‘fate’ while others might call it ‘madness’ or even a ‘mid-life crisis’ to use the reductionistic vernacular. And the ripples both of the consciousness and the conscience of the ‘moment’ will continue perhaps for the rest of their life.

One is never the same after the full impact of such moments has been experienced, both in the immediate and in the reverberations that follow throughout time. Such a tectonic shift in one’s personal psychic, emotional, intellectual, perceptual, ideational and even spiritual life is both unpredictable and unamendable to the various measuring instruments, legal, medical, academic, professional and even reputational. It becomes and remains in the category of a mystery, just as it was in its initial inception, and as it unfolded in its execution and as it continues in its various reverberations. And while various individuals, on personal career and family decisions, have taken this ‘road not taken’ (borrowing from Frost), and ‘it has made all the difference’, the model has application to the world soul, in the immediate period of history.

There are always many important beliefs, convictions, values, attitudes, perceptions and relationships that have to be aborted, left behind, re-considered, re-evaluated and over-turned. Comfort, that state to which we all seem hard-wired to strive to attain, is antithetical to such a moment of transformation. Indeed, the deconstructionists, currently stomping all over the political culture in America, are, in some, fostering a vicarious ‘seismic’ moment in the nation’s political history. Their pugilistic, venom-infested narcissism and hubris, however, renders their attempt to pull off a political coup, (nothing less will satisfy them!) malignant, inauthentic, perverted and lethal not only to the public interest, but also to the psychic wellness of the individuals so inculcated into their cult.

A more appropriate, politically astute, authentic, integrous and ultimately successful ‘moment’ comes out of South Africa, through the ANC (African National Congress) and their eventual military arm. The narrative of the costs, to person, to family and to tribal tradition, not to mention reads like a Greek tragedy, through the pen of one of the most prominent of the ‘freedom fighters’ Nelson Mandela in A Long Walk to Freedom.

Gandhi was over-taken by Tolstoy’s The Kingdom of God is Within, and inaugurated the passive-resistance model against  British rule in India. Mandela was inspired to pick up the fight, only on home turf, that had begun in the Anglo-Boer War near the turn of the twentieth century. One single piece of evidence, his disciplined preparation for, and writing of, final examinations for the LLB, the British legal degree, while in Robben Island, demonstrates not only his determination, but even more importantly, his unfailing and unflappable conviction, not of the courts, but of his own character, in hope and optimism, that he would some day be free to practice law in his own country.

It says here that it is not only the American social ethos that is imploding; the ethos of the whole of the human race is imploding all around us!

Of course, that will read and sound and be interpreted as catastrophizing, exaggeration, ‘off the charts unreasonable’ and even, by some demented!

The social, political, thought and cultural soil has been poisoned by a few unsustainable yet highly seductive myths:

All competition is good!

All pursuit of wealth and greed is good!

All systems, processes and the educational and training programs that support those two myths must be congruent with and emphatically supportive of those two myths.

The forced, if subtly designed and imposed, obeisance of millions of effectively trapped men and women, around the world, to unjust and unjustified wars, to political and ideological propaganda and manipulation, to poverty and starvation, to displacement and both refugee and asylum-seeker desperation, causing catatonic and tectonic upheavals among the political classes, all the while trying to breath in life-defying air (the euphemism of that word is no longer tolerable), find and drink clean water, eke out a subsistence existence through the work of their hands, and scratch out an education (many young girls completely excluded), like apartheid in South Africa, is no longer tolerable, sustainable, morally or ethically justified or justifiable…and like Nelson Mandela, we need an international cadre of Mandela’s, to rise up and push back.

The United Nations, if not reformed, needs to have the funds and the muscle to include clauses to permit and ensure enforcement in its both peace-keeping initiatives, as well as in its climate change targets.

The billionaires, renowned for secreting their bulging investments in off-shore, untaxed accounts, need to be brought to account.

The political class, along with the mass media organizations, need to reach an entente that dwarfs the recent Google-Canadian government deal of a meager $100 million in subsidies to the Canadian news outlets, really a drop in the bucket compared to the uncontested and uncontestable need of every citizen to be not only better informed, but socially and politically active.

The rules of war, including the ban on the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, biological and cyber as well as pharmacological need to be passed and committed to by governments of all nations, irrespective of their religion, their ethnicity, their economic and educational status and level.

The qualifications, including what was once known as a ‘social contract’ in France, of those seeking political office, need to be clearly detailed, and then the nation state, with its various over-sight institutions (not here envisaged as more law enforcement, but rather social and educational preparation) provides some guidance and some base line of expectations of a full appreciation of the needs and processes of the government itself, its history, and its rules of ‘engagement’ in the political battle.

The cyber world, for its part, must be reined in, much in the way the anti-trust laws reined in the out-of-control behemoths of the gilded age.

And, although these are only a few of the many Picasso-like pencil lines in a beginning to transform our own lives, there is one other significant and even dramatic shift in the public mind, perception, consciousness and expectations:

We have to agree that we are all suffering from both impotence (politically, civilly, and psychologically) from an unsustainable overload on what we have come to call our personal ego.

Reich is right that our personal ego is about to implode, universally. And in order to breathe the oxygen it needs, the perception of the tasks and the standards and the processes to achieve those standards has to be re-thought.

This space will continue to be dedicated to the thoughts, reflections, proposals, and especially the insights of people like James Hillman, in Revisioning Psychology, in pursuit of the recovery of the personal and the world soul…