There is a necessary reckoning, a collective grappling and grief, which accompanies the assassination of a powerful public figure like Ms. Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan.That's so therapeutic! How could I have missed it?
And when a public figure is especially polarizing, as Ms. Bhutto was, it can be difficult to sort out the complex emotions that arise in the wake of an event such as this.
In the tender middle of every tragedy, however, is a profound opportunity for personal and collective evolution, a moment when all defenses are laid bare and essential questions rise to the fore. To see Bhutto's death as an isolated act of cruelty by an evil group of terrorists, distant and separate from each of us, would be to miss a profound teaching moment.
We are all terrorists. Before you dismiss this out of hand, please take a closer look. The terrorist inside you wages acts of aggression on those you believe to oppress you. The dictator inside you declares martial law when it suits you. The suicide bomber martyrs you and wounds others in your attempts to be heard and to be right.The bad writer inside you writes opinion-pieces that are actually work-accidents.
Global events are a mirror of aggressions taking place on a daily basis within each of us. This poses necessary and immediate questions: Who am I terrorizing? What part of myself or others am I assassinating?Expendable parts and expendable people--it's an alliance!
It is our instinctual nature to polarize the world (and ourselves) into good and evil and then attempt to eradicate all evil from view - through repression and denial or through aggression and violence. Until we reconcile the violent parts of ourselves that we have dispelled into the shadow, we will continue to play out violent scenes on the world stage.
We have denied and discarded the unsavory bits of ourselves for so long, that we can no longer clearly see how we're creating our troubled world. By definition, it is not easy to see that which is in the shadow. It is outside of our peripheral vision. It is our blind spot, the Achilles heal of the individual and of humanity. What we despise or deny we push deep into the dark recesses of the psyche, hoping it will be forever hidden there. But instead, contorted into all manner of gruesome expression that we no longer recognize as our own shadow, we confront these twisted and alienated bits of self over and over until they are reintegrated. Ms. Bhutto's death is a painful illustration of our collective shadow.
Our small daily acts of aggression may seem like nothing compared to the brutal assassination of a revered public figure. But the collective consciousness is an assimilation of each of us. As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm. As long as we perpetuate the fracturing and fragmentation of disallowed parts of ourselves, stuffing our emotions and perpetuating a sense of shame and worthlessness even on a small scale, we will continue to create terrorists.
Why? Because operating from this fractured consciousness, we don't have the wisdom or the capacity to create a world that fosters wholeness. If we are not whole, we cannot know or create a world that is whole. As such, there will always be disenfranchised, forgotten and expendable parts. Those expendable parts and expendable people will rise up to terrorize us.
In order to heal this schism, we must reconcile with the shadow.A hudna with the shadow . . .
It will require us to collect up all the forgotten, orphaned, disowned, disgusting and estranged parts of ourselves...and bring them back home. All that we have denied and disdained must be held with equal love. Only then can we transmute the lower nature into higher forms. Integration of the poles of our experience is the path toward wholeness.[...]The road map to peace?
Crossposted on Soccer Dad