Saturday, July 8, 2017

You can run...

Last week I posted about a book I'm reading titled: The Inability to Mourn.

I mentioned how eerie are the similarities between postwar Germany and U.S. society...except U.S. society isn't "postwar" in the sense of being defeated and occupied. There's no "occupier" of the U.S. in the way it happened to Germany.

We don't have an occupier here but we do have a fantasy about ourselves (our societal self-concept). We believe we're the "land of the free" and that "all men are created equal" and that we have "liberty and justice for all".

We (this society that's dominated by white people here in the U.S.) enslaved humans for centuries, we finally figured out that it was not OK to enslave humans...but...we had to have a murderous and destructive debacle (called the civil war) to quit doing that stuff.

Think of it...millions were so deluded that they were willing to fight a war so they could continue to engage in enslaving humans. When you're willing to die for something like that...well...that's pretty creepy.

We finally quit legally enslaving humans (except aspects of our current penal system look suspiciously like human enslavement) ...but we really didn't do the psychological work necessary to give up the delusion of one group of humans being "superior" to other groups of humans. Apparently renouncing the fantasy of white people being "superior" seemed too daunting.

To avoid that painful and difficult loss we hung onto that delusion but we gussied it up to ourselves to make it more palatable ("scientific" racism) and kept on believing the same old distortions...and kept on enacting societal rules to exploit "inferior" groups and kept on acting like there were "superior" and "inferior" groups of people (those rules were known as "jim crow" or segregation or apartheid).

The humans who were being deemed "inferior" and were being harmed by those laws and attitudes resisted and pushed for change strongly enough (and some so-called "superior" white humans agreed with them) to cause a period of civil unrest (called the '60s') which finally culminated in the legal rejection of 'jim crow' type laws in 1950s and 1960s.

But...once again we (the majority of white people) didn't do the work necessary to give up the "superior" "inferior" delusion...we just got good at avoiding talking about it (those who objected to not being able to openly talk racial superiority and hatred and delusion called this avoidance "political correctness") and we worked at being good at believing we didn't have racism anymore...we called that being "colorblind".

Do you see the pattern here?

We as a nation (we who are white people in it anyway) seem to think that if we sort of behave ok (or at least pay lip service to behaving ok) that we can keep on thinking/feeling the same way (and denying that we're continuing to think and feel and often acting in the same ways).

It's as if we believe that if we create an appearance of fair behavior then that means we don't really have to think/feel in a way that supports fairness. We might have to pretend we think/feel fairly and overtly appear to sort of act fairly but we don't really change our structures of delusion.

But...oops...all of a sudden enough Americans vote for a white man to be president who openly thinks/feels just like presidents did before the civil rights era...maybe even like some did before the civil war. That president surrounds himself with white people who dang sure sound like many of the white yahoos in power did before the civil rights era.

Note: It's possible that we are seeing what is sometimes called "regression in the service of the ego". For instance, most break-ups of couples usually involve several instances where they broke up and went back together before the final severing of the relationship. We mostly never just quit something...we tend to go to and fro for awhile first. Let us all hope that what is going on now is an instance of just that. there a clue here?

We're still struggling with a centuries old belief in a delusion we created to excuse our horrid behavior. (white men created race and racism to hide their own awful behavior from themselves)

Sorry folks, you don't get to cling to delusion without your behavior being influenced by that can fake it for awhile, but it will show through. And those delusions are murderous and destructive ones that cause suffering and harm beyond millions and millions of U.S. citizens. And...those delusions hurt white people in that we have to avoid accurately perceiving reality in order to hold onto our delusions. (and that means we make bad and stupid decisions again and again and again)

Unless and until we white people are courageous enough and committed enough to do the hard and painful effort of working through and giving up our delusions of "superiority" the same old awful stuff is going to keep on keeping on...until we completely destroy ourselves...and maybe even Mother Earth.

Psychological reality 101. You can't make cosmetic and superficial changes in overt behavior and ignore the emotional and cognitive internal configuration that supports and upholds awful behavior and expect things to go well.

You can't "pretend" your way through have to dive in and do the hard have to feel your losses, feel your pain, do your mourning and grieving over the death of your delusion.

There are no shortcuts or easy ways out of doing the hard work. You have to own up to behaving horribly, you have to let go of fake "innocence", you have to take responsibility and be accountable for your own doings...or the doings of your ancestors that you benefit (materially) from.

Trying to avoid doing the work means the awfulness continues. Denying reality works to magnify and perpetuate the harm.

The deficient and twisted people in positions of power in our government are the logical and inevitable outcomes of we white people failing to do our work of clearly comprehending ourselves and mourning the loss of our false "superiority" and "innocence".

If you were "shocked" at the result of this last presidential election, then you have much psychological work to do because your "shock" indicates a failure to comprehend your society/nation...and probably a lack of comprehension of yourself. 

When there is a loss, there must be mourning...even when the loss is of something that you're much better off without. Ya gotta mourn the loss of good stuff and you have to mourn the loss of bad stuff. Mourning is part of the work that lets you mature and move on...and if you don't do don't grow up and you don't move on. You just keep on acting/thinking/feeling monstrously. You might become more skilled at being a fake...but you don't mature.

Our (white people) failure to do our work is why we're stuck and why we keep having the same kinds of "problems" arise again and again and again.

We white people haven't done our work and so here we are...with fake "adults" running our government.

Do we have the courage to grow up? I dunno. I grapple with my own growing up all the time, sometimes I fail at it...sometimes I don't. I am working to grow up though...and that's a very different stance than denying that I need to grow up, that's very different than trying to "fake" it.

Look around...U.S. society and the "leadership" of the nation is a perfect example of what happens when a bunch of people (again, mostly white people) deny that they need to feel their pain and experience their losses and do their mourning. The effects of such a failure is sometimes called the repetition compulsion...which is another way of saying you can run but you can't hide.

We white folks can do better than this, can't we? 1492 was a long time ago.


Christina said...

I don't know what we are doing anymore. I am so hurt and angry over what I am seeing these days. I know it isn't new or rare but to parade it around like it is something to be proud of just disgusts me.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christina. I don't know either...but...I do wonder whether we're not trying to tell ourselves something and this latest brassiness has to do with our failure to listen to the message earlier.

Have Gone Vegan said...

Was excited to see the book Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters by Aph Ko and Syl Ko, so thought I'd share here in case your other readers weren't aware of it either:

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV and apologies for not responding sooner. I'm aware of Aph and Syl Ko's book and very much am looking forward to reading it...but...I haven't purchased a copy yet. Thanks for the reminder, it is much appreciated.