Many things are being said about the mischief that our overly inflated Ego is doing to our world – and many are true. But we are usually being mislead: ego is an essential part of who we are, and we couldn’t exist (the way that we intend to, of course) without it. Imagine a world without education, healthcare, abundant food, science, technology, art, economy, luxury and so on – our whole civilization is being built by the ego.
It’s only harmful when it goes overboard. Big Ego stirs waves, from ripples to tsunamis, worldwide – the chaos we are currently living in. This is the kind of ego that we would want to gain awareness about, and which we should try to keep under control. But, like Donald Rumsfeld is acknowledging in the above quote, many would “do little to moderate their ego.”
Only in the past two month I happened to find out about three of such situations, from people I know. It is hard to hear about it. But everyone knows that it is way harder to those directly involved. It is increasingly common to hear testimonies of parent-child ill-treatment and abuse, of past and ugly mistakes that leave unhealed wounds for years ahead, at times for a lifetime. The victim feels that it is to blame. We usually try and comfort the victim with the usual… “Well, it was long ago,” “It wasn’t your fault,” “It will pass,” etc. But the meaning and causes behind the “parent perpetrator / child victim” behavior have a life-long, time-bomb effect, and the damage is very profound, and the victims, defenseless little children no more, have yet a hard time in coming to terms with it.
Yet, in these chaotic times, the current process of evolution in consciousness we are undergoing wants the old society to be transformed, and, in order for this to happen, the ugly elements in the collective unconscious need to come out into the light of consciousness. So that they happen no more.
We may keep on asking, what makes someone (at times, the closest to you, the one that gave you life, that is supposed to protect you above all and everything) attack you physically and psychologically, you, a defenseless child? Would it be that the child is so undeserving that he, or she, deserves punishment and maltreatment? According to common sense, and to new science, a child is coming to this life totally innocent, helpless and unprepared, so it is up to us, parents, to provide to all its needs.
If, at any time along the child’s development there are reasons to believe that he/she didn’t progress well enough, or less well than expected, then it must be the parents’ fault, and not the child’s. A child may defend himself/herself ferociously against a stranger, for instance, but cannot defend against parental authority – even adults cannot defend themselves against authority (Milgram experiment)
But these are only rational speculations, while there is nothing rational in this type of behavior. Whatever the reason, it leaves indelible traces in the abused child – for life. Not for the physical damage, but for the psychological one. All our psychological wounds come from any kind of action that is being perceived as out of the norm, condemnable at the societal level. It is a long, well established religious dogma: no incestuous relations between close relatives – it may be that people were observant enough to realize that along time such relations would generate offspring less fit for survival and procreation, something that genetics discovered relatively recently. If animals, wild or domesticated, are avoiding interbreeding, there must be some evolved instinct in nature in order to discourage it.
However, humans have found their way, as usual, to go around religious and natural prohibitions: ancient Egyptians’ royalty encouraged the practice, so that it became a sort of “privilege of the gods” (pharaohs were “gods on earth”). Christianity also knows of glamorous examples (among who knows how many secret ones) like the illustrious family that gave the world three popes. “Borgia were an incestuous family”, says Giovanni Sforza about the family of his wife, Lucretia – their Vatican orgies were quite famous and in plain daylight.
There is no evidence that in these examples, people were in no way affected by the weight of their acts, on the contrary, they caused their singular ways to be seen as privileged and exclusive – who knows how many envious followers they left in their historic trace??
In our days, conventions in our society dictate that incestuous relations be prohibited and blamable – probably partly on the religious bases, partly as a natural instinct that even animals follow. How does a child, victim of such abuse, know that this is an outrageous thing, outrageous enough as to cause deep psychological trauma for a life time? Maybe the child knows it deeply, innately, the same way animals “know”. Why does the abusive parent do it? Because there must be something gone terribly wrong with him or her, something to have rendered him/her psychologically and emotionally impaired – maybe, most probably, something similar had happened to himself (or herself, as mothers and grandmothers are known to do it too).
When a person is acting this way against his/her own progeny, he, or she is doing it because he/she is deeply hurt, hateful towards self, even desperate and disgusted with oneself – and it doesn’t have to be consciously known. In fact, their biggest problem is that they are not conscious that they are so profoundly hurt, and why. They can only act blindly, repeat and mirror the reprovable behavior that caused them such painful emotions on a similarly vulnerable victim, the way they were themselves. Which makes them feel even worse: this is why they blame the victim, the child, for their own ugliness and helplessness – from here the bad words, the beating, the worsening of the abuse. This is a typical example for “projection”: a psychological term that explains how unacceptable, negative behavior is being projected, reflected on others. A liar would see that everybody is lying, a thief would claim that everybody is a thief, a stingy, avaricious man would poke fun at others for their stinginess.
I am amazed at how many brave men and women, even children, decide to speak up, let the world become aware that all these reprovable things like incest and pedophilia are happening. It is by bringing dark things to the light that dark, uncontrollable instincts lose their power and become harmless, as awareness and reason gain over emotion and instinct.
We are humans in the process of bringing light into millenia of unconsciousness and darkness – we are collectively paining in the process of transformation of the animal instinct into evolved awareness. Hard as may be, we are the transforming heroes, so that these things never happen again in the next generations.
Polly Y. Eisendrath, James James Albert Hall, “Jung’s Self Psychology – A Constructivist Perspective” p 6
Self-Righteousness Is Trying Too Hard To Be Good – It Comes From The Collective Ego
I always think that we are trying too hard to be good. Really. Because, if we weren’t striving that much for purity, righteousness, perfection and sanctity (in the hopes of being allowed to be rambling in God’s garden), we wouldn’t do all the demented things we are doing.
It is in the name of good – God – that we practice religious mass killings. And it’s not only the “bad” religions (like ISIS is doing in the name of Islam), but let’s not forget Christianity’s strive for “goodness” in the past. Along the years, entire populations and whole continents have been enslaved, sold, exterminated by armies and missionarism. But this isn’t Religion: this is Ego.
As we cringe today at the abominable actions perpetrated, also in the name of God (but, alas, the one from a different book), we seem to be forgetful of all that terrible past now. But this is not just “past” – this is Present. The next day after the 9/11 president Bush announced the beginning of a new Crusade War, affirming his commitment to address the “evil” at its own home – in fact, he initiated the chaos that we are now witnessing in the Middle East. ISIS and the refugee crisis wold not exist if not for the 3rd millennium Crusade War, and as much as we mind the mess, imagine what those populations’ everyday lives have become.
Could it be that in real life, the mythic fight between good and evil is not that clearly cut along white and black zones? If we tried to gain some perspective, we might see that in the middle of darkness there is a pure white spot, and in the middle of whiteness, there is a pitch dark one.
Our medias keep on displaying for our hungry eyes endless, repetitive, real-life stories with horrific images. How ugly the others are, to us, the good and the right ones… But these stories ever fail to mention the western politics of separating and dissolution, of dissipation, of squandering their human and land resources… How their dictators have been selected and supported by the powers of the West, how inhumane politics were tolerated in place, in exchange for oil and other resources… how it was convenient to maintain those populations in the darkness of dogmas and madrasas, rather than pressuring their rulers for social, economic and educational reforms… The stories that media shows us are freshly cut for modern consumer’s eye; the stories fail to mention that, for ages, since the Roman Empire to today, the western slogan for the politics in the Middle East has been “divide ad impera”: divide and rule! Medias fail to tell that today’s affluent western society is built on centuries of colonization and exploitation of exactly those populations that today, exhausted by wars and famine, are crossing over the frozen and agitated seawaters on boats of fortune, to knock at the door of an indignant and frustrated West.
The epic battle between right and wrong is being enacted right now, and we are the protagonists. Let’s remember that the only time where “right” is justified is when it comes with the adjective “human”. What we are living now will be history for the coming generations – they will have the perspective to judge, let’s hope, with a more impartial eye, free of our blinding self-righteousness. What will they think of us??
see article on The Role of The Ego here: http://rishajoshi.com/2015/12/16/the-role-of-the-ego/
James J. O’Donnell, author and classic scholar, tells us that “People kill because it’s the right thing to do.” And he is terribly right. Only this last Christmas, a woman in Arizona shot in the eye another woman because that one didn’t believe in God – at Christmas!
He goes on: “elected statesmen—American no less than from countries we aren’t so fond of—are no less prone to pull the trigger on killing with exact justifications based in the soundest moral arguments. We glance away nervously and mutter about exceptions. What if the exceptions are the rule?” And then he leaves us with a warning: The good guys are the bad guys. Teaching your children to do the right thing can get people killed.”
More than half-a-century ago, Jung identified our own Shadow to be the source for the problem: we never pay attention to our own flaws, to the spiderwebs in our own closets – this is a wink to those who are into psychology.
To those into religion, the Bible says: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” But maybe we pick in our religions the stuff that suits us and dispose of the rest?? Cause “there is nothing wrong about it, God would never see it anyway, if we hide it well”… or so we’d like to believe. But God, whoever, whatever this is, is not much into any spying system – it is our own soul that cannot bear hypocrisy, lying, finger-pointing, wrong-doing… because human soul has this property, it always wants to be neat and clean. Rather than being saintly, the soul would want things to be honest and straight.
So, who and what am I, the good, or the bad one?? I am the two – and seeing this is my utmost, foremost “soul assignment” in this life: seeing the log in my own eye. It is just that – but it’s so hard.
I have been watching the fear, the hatred, the suspicions, the accusations and incrimination at the coming of the Syrian and Afghan refugees in Europe and in the States. Not all of them are good people. Not all of them are genuine refugees. But the biggest majority are.
But meanwhile, for who knows, maybe 0,0001 % of the infiltrated bad ones, Europe is radicalizing its policies, all like the US: we may be testimonies to the process of electing an American president not because he may be the best man for the job, but because he is the one most skilled at scaring the frightened child inside us.
There has been another president before who declared a new “Crusade War” to the Middle East. And he didn’t hesitate, he went for it: what we are living now is just the aftermath. If a new president will follow in his footsteps, we are going to live a new edition, the “Crusade War Two”.
And, the aftermath to that…?? The aftermath to that wold be total Chaos, if this one we are living now was not enough.
Finally, rather than deliberating whether “They are good” or “They are bad”, a change of pronoun may help enormously: “I am good” or “I am bad”.
The Bible didn’t say: “see the log in your eye” and mend it. Just seeing, becoming aware of it would be equal to fixing it and accepting that”I am good” and “I am bad”. Maybe if I see my own dark corners I won’t be that ready to throw stones at another fellow human being?