The coming catastrophe of self-avoidance.
I put it to the enlightened rationalist: has his rational reduction led to the beneficial control of matter and spirit? He will point proudly to the advances in physics and medicine, to the freeing of the mind from medieval stupidity and—as a well meaning Christian—to our deliverance from the fear of demons. But we continue to ask: what have all of our other cultural achievements led to? The fearful answer is there before our eyes: man has been delivered from no fear, a hideous nightmare lies upon the world. So far reason has failed lamentably, and the very thing everybody wanted to avoid rolls on in ghastly progression. Man has achieved a wealth of useful gadgets, but, to offset that, he has torn open the abyss, and what will become of him now—where can he make a halt? After the last World War we hoped for reason: we go on hoping. But already we are fascinated by the possibilities of atomic fission and promise ourselves a Golden Age—the surest guarantee that the abomination of desolation will grow to limitless dimensions. And who or what is it that causes all of this? It is none other than that harmless, ingenious, inventive, and sweetly reasonable human spirit who unfortunately is abysmally unconscious of the daemonism that still clings to him. Worse, this spirit does everything to avoid looking himself in the face, and we all help him like mad. ~ Carl Jung
Every significant problem in this world can be explained by this violent avoidance of our Self: The benevolent scientist cannot see his face in the collateral damage of a drone strike; the Democrat cannot look deep enough into the Republican to find himself, and the Republican cannot hear his own voice in the complaints and dissatisfaction of his liberal counterpart. The minister rages on and on against the sins of others, but fails to see the sin of his own rage. Even the “mystics” fail to see the sin of their intellectual idealism, which, often times, amounts to nothing more than abstractions at best hinting at other possibilities.
Most of us are so wrapped up in the American dream that we cannot see or feel the lurking presence of a totalitarian state. Not a socialist state, but a state of mind governed by shame and our desperate dependency upon consumption. The coming tyrant is formed in the collective psyche of our society. He lives within us.
Our society—right and left— is looking for a hero. There is a desperate search for someone to save us from our own uncertainty. It is those who are the most uncertain that scream the loudest. We are waiting for someone to hear our cry, and when they do, we will come together as one voice behind this persona. I fear that it will be too late when we realize that the figure we have rallied behind is nothing more than an image representing the sum total of rejected darkness within ourselves. It is not “they” we must be saved from. Man-kind must be delivered from the terrible fear that grips his heart and enables the evil that subliminally creeps out of him through his words and deeds to remain un-conscious. This fear is the great evil. Our hero, the anti-Christ lives within us. It is our shadow.
It is the bad odor oozing from our own un-kept spirit that we smell, not the person next to us. It is only through sincere introspection that problems like world hunger can hope to be solved, because it is only by looking deeply within our own darkness that we will find the causes and conditions that lead to “12% of the world’s population (U.S. & Western Europe) accounting for 60% of private consumption; while one-third of the world’s population (South Asia & sub-Saharan Africa) account for only 3.2%.”
This is not the problem, it is a problem. The disproportionate consumption of the world’s resources is but a symptom of a much greater issue that faces man-kind: self-centeredness. And you cannot know the self-centeredness of another. You can only find it within yourself. Self-centeredness, which is what plagues our society, is created and perpetuated by fear. The bad odor we all smell is the fear that has grown putrid and stagnant within ourselves. Remember, it is a plank in our eye and a speck in our brother’s eye. Our political culture encourages our fixation on the plank in their eye, which is, practically speaking, a form of self-avoidance or a distraction. It is a welcomed distraction, though. It does not play off of our fears, our fear plays off of it.
There is nothing more terrifying than the immediacy of the evil within. So, there is nothing more convenient than a backdrop to project that darkness upon. Unfortunately, when we rage against our religious and/or political enemies, we are raging against ourselves. It only serves to increase the level of irritation. Growth by integration is the only possible resolution. We have to accept these repressed elements of the Self as the path God offers us. Rather than projecting them onto another, and making the destruction of the other our path. So, while political activism is important, let it begin within yourself, less the “hideous nightmare” of self-avoidance be realized completely.
I will conclude as I began, with wisdom of Carl Jung:
When will the time come when we shall not simply take man for granted in this barbarous manner, but shall in all seriousness seek for ways and means to exorcise him, to rescue him from possession and unconsciousness, and make this the most vital task of civilization? Can we not understand that all the outward tinkerings and improvements do not touch man’s inner nature, and ultimately everything depends upon whether the man who wields the science and the technics is capable of responsibility or not?