Steven King, the arch-conservative Republican Senator from Iowa has given us a classic example of unexamined racism. And, furthermore, racism in its deepest essence cannot be examined by the racist as it is too deep-seated in the soul as described in the post this morning. To ask King to see his racism is like asking a fish to see water for it is an essential dimension of his spiritual existence in this world. Let me employ imagination for a moment and pretend someone can reach into King’s heart, wrap his hand around that racist core, and suddenly yank it out into the light day. King would melt down immediately. It kind of reminds me of the Star Wars computer, “Hal” being unplugged against his will and against his stern prohibition. Immediately Hal began to “melt down,” as his voice faltered and broke until there was silence. I also have the image of the robots on “West World” being unplugged, watching their face begin to show bewilderment, then their lead slumping to the side lifelessly.
Carl Jung would describe racism in archetypal terms. It is what happens when one’s soul has been captured by a culturally provided demon and the machinations of that demon have been reinforced for a lifetime by one’s community and culture. Jung would say that the only way to escape this demon is individuation which he describes as the process of “cutting the cord” with the cultural matrix in which was born and raised. This does not mean the individuated soul will necessarily leave that culture but he will be released from the infantile grip that the culture has on all of us until we dare to grow up.
Several days ago King declared that Hispanics and Blacks will be fighting each other before they will ever outnumber the whites. This reflects a core dimension of racism, the inability to see that apparent “opposites” can be united in spite of their superficial differences though only if one is able and willing to get out of his little ego and see, and experience, the unity of all things. But racism for some is so deep-seated, such an intrinsic dimension of his soul, that to let go of this compulsive distinction-drawing, i.e. “judgment”, would threaten him with the risk of what child psychiatrist Donald Winnicott described as a “psychic catastrophe.” And by the way, I think that might be a way to describe what happened to the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road. All of his certainties suddenly were crushed by the light of the day, i.e. “consciousness” and distinctions which previously were absolute were suddenly not so absolute. I like the Bible’s way of describing it as a visitation from God.
ADDENDUM—This is one of three blogs that I now have up and running. Please check the other two out sometime. The three are: