A mouth that prays, a hand that kills. -- Arabian proverb
"How do you find a lion that has swallowed you? " asked Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, commenting on the moral dilemma posed by the "shadow, " his insightful term for the dark, hidden side of the human psyche.
The answer to Jung 's questions is "you can 't find or see that lion " --not as long as you are inside the beast. And therein resides the essential dilemma of a group 's dark side or shadow: it is nearly impossible for those caught inside a group 's belief system to see their own dark side with any clarity or objectivity. This hidden side grows over time, regressing, becoming more and more aggressive. It 's the "long bag we drag behind us, " says poet Robert Bly --where, as individuals, we dispose of all those things that are too uncomfortable to look at. "The long-repressed shadow of Dr. Jekyll rises up in the shape of Mr. Hyde, deformed, an ape-like figure glimpsed against the alley wall. "(1) Now imagine millions of Mr. Hydes and you have a sense of the group shadow of fundamentalist, right wing extremists dressed up as "compassionate conservatives, " led by George W. Bush. It 's like shifting from a hand gun to a nuclear bomb. And it began long ago in both the Moslem and Christian worlds.
The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades,(2) witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. It 's like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusades --politics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side. Potent, cult-like group dynamics combine with unacknowledged and unseen shadow qualities to easily overwhelm the individual 's sense of right and wrong, often unleashing pure evil en masse.
As the political world and the media divided the U.S. into red and blue states, I found myself feeling uncomfortable even thinking about driving through one of those "red " states. I would imagine that every red-state person must be a card-carrying, right wing fundamentalist. From the other side of the mountain, those "blue " states are full of liberal, soft-on-terrorism, big government socialists. Both are examples of projecting our group 's shadow onto the "enemy. " And both views prevent us from "seeing " individual human beings. We see only that group, those people. With remarkable ease, we slide into a "programmed, " either-or, group-think: we 're the good guys, they 're the bad guys. The group mind set is pulling the levers, directing individual reasoning and logic. It 's like seeing everything through red or blue-tinted glasses that color all we see and think --we 've been swallowed. The blind lead the blinded with ludicrous comments like this: "I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq, "(3) Paul Wolfowitz declared, clearly not seeing his missionary, neoconservative dark side --the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Fundamentalists use labels as weapons, dialogue-diverting smokescreens that reveal a lot about their own shadow. For example, they have demonized Liberal Democrats using phrases like "the Liberal elite, " repeated over and over, who they claim are part of some "vast liberal media conspiracy. " In fact, there is an actual conspiracy underway and it is the fundamentalist Christian cult 's shadowy, carefully planned, two-decade-long infiltration and gradual takeover of the Republican Party from the grassroots-up. "Elitism, " in reality, is at the core of the Bush administration 's dark side, especially their pretentious, religious and political elitism.
George W 's elite base includes the wealthy and the powerful. They are the hidden people he really represents, those economically "elite, " special interest bosses he described so accurately in a speech at one of his private, campaign fund raising dinners: "You 're my base: the haves and the have mores. " They must have been some of the people he was referring to at a 2002 meeting with his economic squad about a second round of tax cuts: "Haven 't we already given money to rich people? "
The Bush administration 's obsession with "activist " judges is a bona fide tar pit; it 's their own projected shadow transforming judges (and "trial lawyers ") into another "evil enemy. " Again, the dark side is so obvious: project our own "activism " onto the justice system. Bush and his religious cohorts are in-deed fundamentalist political "activists " in the truest sense of the word. Consider the Lawless, unjust treatment of U.S. citizens, suspected terrorists and prisoners, justified by scary group jargon like "national security " or "we 're in a war " --Bush 's "war " that is at once everywhere and nowhere, making a mockery of the inscription above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court: "Equal Justice Under Law. " In a remarkable statement, James Dobson, the fundamentalist, right wing Christian chairman of Focus on the Family, clarified this agenda (quoted in The Washington Post): "The courts majority, " Dobson said, "are unelected and unaccountable and arrogant and imperious and determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values, and they 're out of control. " Now that 's pure group shadow speaking!
Activist (fundamentalist), right wing politicians are promoting moral and economic agendas we are all too familiar with: loading the courts with right wing religious extremists, eliminating women 's right to freedom of choice, preventing equal rights for gays, using the "Patriot Act " to destroy our constitutional rights to privacy and freedom from unlawful search and seizure, undermining our democracy 's essential liberties including the "rule of law, " the cornerstone of a civil society.
Shadow dynamics can shift the focus of our beliefs with stunning speed to another "evil " enemy. Petty dictators are convenient "hooks " on which groups can hang their shadow, their dirty laundry; a perfect example being Saddam Hussein who, in 1990-1991 magically transitioned from being a relatively obscure U.S. ally (receiving military aid, weapons, satellite intelligence, and high tech equipment)(4) into an incarnation of evil and a dire threat to humanity that we had to eliminate. Such is the hypnotic power of group paranoia combined with propaganda in stirring up a nationalistic, lynch mob mentality.(5)
Once a belief system gains control, those beliefs are much more likely to move us to action, propel us into roles and conduct we would never contemplate on our own. Voltaire warned, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. " Moreover, under the influence of any fundamentalist ideology, beliefs (often paranoid and delusional) tend to override facts --a very dangerous mental environment for making life and death decisions, or declaring war. Independent critical thinking and logic --qualities that are most threatening to any destructive group --expose absurdities. Consider this excerpt from a speech by the Nazi Party leader Rudolph Hess on June 30, 1934: "The National Socialism of all of us is anchored in uncritical loyalty ... " (my italics). "What good fortune for those in power that people do not think, " observed Hitler, knowing that thinking citizens were a real danger to his political ambitions.
Ignorance of the group shadow and its destructive consequences locks us into a mutually destructive embrace with our "enemies. " In a perverse way each side needing the other --an ironic, group co-dependency on the others "evil " in order to perpetuate themselves. Thus the twisted rationale for a never-ending "War on Terror "(6) (recently recast by the Bush administration as a "struggle against violent extremism ") that is the mirror image of the never-ending Islamic Jihad against the West. The president made this unending mission clear when he announced, "There 's no telling how many wars it will take to secure freedom in the homeland. " The notion of permanent war against a designated "evil " or "tyranny " is a classic dark side of Christian fundamentalism that mimics the Moslem worlds ' fundamentalist doctrine that declares non-Moslem countries as "Dar-al-Harb, " which means "The Home of War. "(7) It 's no surprise to realize that George W 's fundamentalist dark side also echos Islamic fundamentalism 's oft-stated goal of a global Moslem theocracy, which, the words of one prominent Iranian ayatollah make perfectly clear: "It will . . . be the duty of every able-bodied adult male to volunteer for this war of conquest, the final aim of which is to put Koranic law in power from one end of the earth to the other. "(8)
Sounding a lot like a description of our current world situation, Erasmus (d. 1536), a peaceful, educated, psychologically savvy, Catholic humanist observed: "There is no injury, however insignificant it may be which does not seem to them [Christians] sufficient pretext to start a war. They suppress and hide everything that might maintain peace; they exaggerate excessively everything that would lead to an outbreak of war. "(9) In his book, People of the Lie, author M. Scott Peck explains the slippery nature of good and evil. He points out that "evil people are often destructive because they are trying to destroy evil. Instead of destroying others they should be destroying the sickness within themselves. " This paradox is similar to Jung 's observation that "a so-called good to which we succumb loses its ethical character, " meaning that we paradoxically facilitate evil when we become one-sided, when we believe our group is on the side of goodness and virtue. When one-sided, a so-called quest for peace inevitably produces a group shadow filled with aggression and violence.
You know a group 's shadow is active when " ...our belief is in the republic and the republic is declared endangered, " explains author and psychologist James Hillman. "Whatsoever the object of belief --the flag, the nation, the president, or the god --a martial energy mobilizes. Decisions are quick, dissent more difficult. Doubt which impedes action and questions certitude becomes traitorous, an enemy to be silenced. "(10) "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today ... is my own nation, " observed Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who practiced nonviolent social and political change. Shakespeare (in Julius Caesar) eloquently described the bright facade of this fundamentalist, political shadow in his play about another "super power ": And let us bathe our hands in . . . blood up to the elbows, and besmear our swords. Then we walk forth, even to the market place, and waving our red weapons o'er our heads, let's all cry "peace, freedom and liberty! "
"There will never be world peace until God 's house and God 's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world, "(11) proclaimed Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson. The Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams, contained this statement: "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation. " What 's really scary is the politicizing of religious intolerance in the form of the Bush administration 's evangelical(12) crusade to spread our political and economic beliefs around the globe, to conquer the lesser political gods, to save and convert democratically and economically unenlightened countries.
Fundamentalism in politics has resurrected a nightmarish apparition in the form of Wilsonian political monotheism. We could summarize Wilson 's foreign policy as "the imperative of America 's mission as the vanguard of history, transforming the global order and, in doing so, perpetuating its own dominance, " guided by "the imperative of military supremacy, maintained in perpetuity and projected globally "(13) --all thinly veiled religious elitism and hubris, missionary theology masquerading as "peace, freedom and liberty. " Similarly, in a much applauded speech in 1899, Theodore Roosevelt (just before becoming President) proposed "righteous war " as the sole means of achieving "national greatness. "(14) And, speaking through his group 's fundamentalist "mouth that prays, " Bush made his paranoid mission quite clear: "We will rid the world of the evildoers. "(15)