A young woman, a friend of the family, called on the night of the election returns, to let us know that she is sad and profoundly unhappy. She is weighted down by thoughts that the country is going to the dogs. I think it would be fair to visualize her dejection in terms of being stuck in a tug-of-war with people who lack vision and compassion. Regardless of who wins the presidency it may be years before we know whether the United States has the potential to be the kind of country that reflects the values of a citizenry of conscience and heart and soul. This young woman is in her thirties and right now she can't picture a future that doesn't depress her. I think a lot of our young people feel this way.
At 69, I have lived through bad times like this before: When John Kennedy was shot (and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King) that was a terrible time. I was 13. When Reagan's election ushered in the culture of white-male (capitalist) elitism I was profoundly dismayed and had to replan my life. (I was 32.) When Bush Jr went into Iraq without just cause, inaugurating the longest war in American history (and to do that his administration fabricated evidence that Iraq had chemical weapons of mass destruction--they lied to the American people and the UN Security Council), resulting in 650,000 Iraqi deaths (according to one survey), I was shocked and incredulous. (I was 51.) But the most depressing chapters in the American saga happened before I was born but rippled through my empathic childhood psyche via my father's and his father's experiences, coping with the trauma and fallout of 2 World Wars.
Trump is just another apparition of our dangerously dysfunctional United States of America. But, for the young, I realize that there is no solace in placing Trump into this historic context of chronic dysfunction. To those who came to adulthood during Bush Jr's second term and Obama's presidency, Trump is like a nightmare that we can't shake. He really is like our collective nightmare because, like a real nightmare, he seems to have come out of nowhere, but it's personal. His appearance is personal and impersonal at the same time. The impersonal part might be expressed by the question: How could I have been so wrong about who my fellow Americans are if people in my own community, my own street, could vote for such a terrible human being? The personal might be expressed by the self-criticism : I should have been more aware, I should have gone into the community. I should have done something to raise consciousness or work for meaningful change.
Some journalist described the boarded-up businesses in Washington DC on the eve of the election as what you might expect to see in some country that is at war.
Now, having aired all this, I can honestly say, even though I am often discouraged and weighted down by current events, there is something that has kept me sane and helped me stay on a path for my entire adult life. More than anything else, being a dream-worker has helped me through my 69 years of life in America. The psyche generates dreams that both pull and push. Some dreams want us to revisit our psychic past, to revisit a part of our inner world that needs healing or reclamation. Other dreams, Jung was careful to point out, are teleological, that is, they point to future causes. That's right--dreams foreshadow possibilities. Often, when we delve into serious dreamwork we are actually becoming engaged in the process of transforming fate (fate defined as living as if we are our history, and history repeats itself) into destiny (destiny defined as who we have it in us to become). Dreams show us what our lives look like from inside out. When we work with our dreams on a regular basis we unfetter ourselves from old patterns, patterns of behavior, patterns of seeing ourselves and others, patterns of how we work, how we play and how we create. Whether we are young, middle-aged, or elderly, whether we are new to experiencing bad and disturbing times and events (that, tragically, monopolize the best and smartest and most human of our compatriots), or you are like me, seasoned and tempered by decades of disappointment, dreams are what I regard as our secret garden into which we can duck every single night. I do believe in us as a people but I have always felt that we could afford to look deeper into ourselves than we are in the habit of doing. I feel that now that is truer than ever.
(Article changed on November 7, 2020 at 12:48)