The Fundamentalist Shadow of George W. Bush
Monday, 19 September 2005, 2:34 pm
Opinion: John D. Goldhammer
Dr. Bush and Mr. Hyde:
The Fundamentalist Shadow of George W. Bush
By John D. Goldhammer
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.” 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,[*] 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,” 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)[**] 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. 
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”[***] (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.” 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.”
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.” 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.” “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,” 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[****] 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” —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.” 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.”
Like it or not we are stuck in a psychological dilemma fueled by the collision of two toxic groups—groups with deadly shadows created by literalized Christian monotheism and literalized Islamic monotheism—both fundamentalist, both virulent strains of group-think, both after mental territory, economic and political power. When one group’s god is the only god, all other gods must be inferior. When one group’s political view is the only view, all other political systems must be inferior. Consequently, intolerance is one of the chief characteristics of the fundamentalist political shadow. In this manner monotheistic religions, like a contagious disease, spread violence and immoral behaviors. The fact that fundamentalist cults, whether Christian, Islamic, or any other denomination are able to recruit and brainwash legions of followers illustrates a confounding global illiteracy about rudimentary group dynamics.
One of the symptoms of fanaticism is the belief that one’s mission has been “blessed or even commanded by God,” says Dr. Norman Doidge, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. George W. Bush, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, told Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, “God told me to strike at Al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.” For most psychologists, Bush’s “God made me do it” sounds a lot like schizophrenia, a malady defined as “a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations.” In every sense of the word, destructive, group-based beliefs are the real weapons of mass destruction that we all need to be very worried about.
“God wanted me to be President,” said George W. Bush. “God is my co-pilot,” went a World War II slogan. In World War I, “Clergymen created posters showing Jesus dressed in khaki and firing a machine gun.” The bishop of London urged his fellow Christians to “kill the good as well as the bad… kill the young men as well as the old… kill those who have shown kindness to our wounded as well as those friends…” —Christianity’s militant shadow! Regarding Iraq, Lieutenant General Boykin declared that our “spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.” “We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name,” Bush declared when announcing his “strategy” for his evangelical crusade” Thus, warfare is applied theology. And from either side of the bloody plain, “every war is a just war, a battle between the forces of good and evil,” a ghastly, incurable, repetition—the darkness of utter evil created by what appear to be the noblest of ideals.
Caught in the consequences of this shadow boxing, we find ourselves compelled to live in a constant state of hypocrisy, burying more and more of our own individual sense of real compassion and charity in the graveyard of our collective dark side, covering our self-deception and shame with the rags of hollow slogans from “mouths that pray.” Ironically, “hypocrisy,” as Hillman points out, “holds the nation together so that it can preach, and practice what it does not preach. It makes possible armories of mass destruction side by side with the proliferation of churches, cults, and charities” —the bright “good” side covering a very destructive dark side.
This fundamentalist, political shadow has become ever more insidious as their ideological assault erodes the constitutional separation of church and state—a separation that marked a stunning acceleration of individual human freedom, establishing a nation that respected the tension between two old enemies: Enlightenment rationalism and organized religion. Americans lived no longer under religious totalitarianism. Instead they lived in an age of religious freedom and an age of reason. America embodied the revolutionary notion that only a clean separation of church and state can guarantee freedom from religious tyranny and true religious freedom.
Religious fundamentalist incursions into American political life as well as persistent attacks on individual freedom are not new. In 1776 “conservatives” around the world— priests, state-supported religion, Monarchy, aristocracy,—vigorously denounced and attacked the Declaration of Independence. In 1962 Supreme Court Justice Black described the intent of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause: History had demonstrated time and again that “a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.” The American historian, Clinton Rossiter wrote: “The twin doctrines of separation of church and state and liberty of individual conscience are the marrow of our democracy, if not indeed America’s most magnificent contribution to the freeing of Western man.”
Psychological projection of a group shadow tends to make the enemy appear to be far more dangerous and “evil” than actual reality. The U.S. is “the Great Satan,” and they (terrorists) are going to “destroy civilization.” For example, consider our declaration of a “War” on Terror that has created a shadow-inflation enormously elevating the status and celebrity of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to that of a nation state or even a world power when in actuality we are dealing with scattered cells of cult victims who have been brainwashed by militant, fundamentalist Islamic cult leaders into believing that mass murder is the way into Paradise. Terrorists are what they are, no less, no more: extremely dangerous, criminal psychopaths manufactured by a set of powerful, destructive group dynamics.
One of the best ways to observe a group’s dark side is to look at what is particularly upsetting to our group—what “we” (or they) are accusing someone else or some other group of doing. Take the political storm over Newsweek’s report about the Koran being flushed down the toilet at Gitmo. The Bush cadre was suddenly VERY “upset” that Newsweek printed an allegedly inaccurate story as a result of supposedly faulty information from one of their “trusted sources”—a story that “seriously damaged” our image in the Arab world. Of course it follows that Islamic fundamentalists’ reaction to our disrespect for the Koran also exposes their group shadow, a dark side crawling with their own savage disrespect for human life as in killing innocent people and their violent intolerance for different beliefs and views.
Now we can see more of the George W. Bush group’s dark underbelly, fundamentalist politics’ long heavy bag. The Bush administration—we were told—went to war in Iraq because of allegedly “faulty intelligence” from trusted sources. Eight months before the invasion of Iraq the Downing Street Memo (“…But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”), provided even more proof that the U.S. and Britain “fixed” intelligence in order to support the Bush administration’s war plans. The REAL damage to America’s image, the REAL destruction of innocent lives began when George W. Bush and a handful of hired mercenaries unnecessarily invaded an already impoverished Arab nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with the September 11th tragedy.
Fundamentalist politicians consistently blame and accuse other individuals and other groups, projecting their own disowned darkness: they are part of the “Axis of Evil,” they are mass murderers; they are undemocratic; those people don’t value life, they “hate freedom,” it’s a “Liberal conspiracy.” Saint Augustine’s directive comes to mind: “All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to demons”—a perfect characterization of fundamentalism’s group-think that insures infantile irresponsibility while spreading mass paranoia. Faced with probing questions about the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft (a devout member of a Pentacostal sect) told a senate panel, “To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends.” Mark Twain would have seen right through all this shadow-speak, language intended to “demonize” and kill any serious criticism. Twain once wrote: “Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutation of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”
When someone shines a spotlight into a group’s dark side it arouses, almost without fail, righteous indignation along with virulent, “kill-the-messenger” attacks. That is also why it is so utterly frustrating to have any meaningful, rational discussion or collaboration with such people; you can never quite reach the real person. Instead you are stonewalled; you keep getting programmed, predictable, group-speak responses and jargon designed to abort any real scrutiny of the group’s always secretive dark side. Exposing torture and gross violations of the Geneva Convention means we are guilty of “not supporting our troops.” In his famous book On Liberty, John Stuart Mill maintained that silencing an opinion is a “particular evil.” If the opinion is right, we are “robbed of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth”; and if it’s wrong, we are deprived of a deeper understanding of the truth in “its collision with error.”
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders,” said Hermann Goring, at his trial in Nuremberg. He added: “This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” George W. Bush brings up Bin Laden and 9/11 over and over: “The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11.” Constant repetition of certain ideas is a common method of indoctrination used in destructive cults. “It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion,” declared Josef Goebbles, the Nazi propaganda minister, who knew that tyrannical governments require brainwashed followers. And here’s George W’s not quite so articulate fundamentalist equivalent: “See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda,” quipped our self-titled “War President” in a 24 May 2005 speech.
So the Bush administration “fixes” intelligence reports, “fixes” scientific data on climate change and greenhouse gases,[*****] “fixes” reality on the ground in Iraq for the unthinking, uncritical, patriotic, loyal, citizens. These so-called “fixes” are really “lies”—the Bush group’s program to “supervise the formation of public opinion,” as Goebbles stated. Indeed, the purpose of all propaganda is to program individuals to act according to group beliefs and aims.
Turn these hypnotic phrases around and we can again see into our own shadow: two fundamentalist cults locked in another lethal embrace, an “adversarial symbiosis,” a system that guarantees that neither side will have to face their own shadow, reminiscent of the “cold war”—Russia and the United States—the latter having created nuclear weapons technology while the former copies it and both proceed to manufacture and infect the planet with over 60,000 nuclear weapons—enough destructive power to end all life on the planet many times over. Never mind the fact that the United States actually dropped two atomic bombs on civilian populations in Japan during the Second World War. Bush precisely articulated his own treacherous dark side when he announced, “The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”
Presidential scholar, Michael Genovese suggests that 9/11 helped to create a mass illusion: “The public needed to believe that [Bush] had grown,” so “we chose to see him …as bigger, better and different than he was.” You could say that we temporarily projected a “savior” image onto the president; psychologists call this the “halo effect,” the same sort of illusion that can make quite ordinary people suddenly appear to be superhuman, until the truth rattles our projections and reality returns.
The most insidious face of the ever-darkening shadow of evangelical, fundamentalist politics and its bright, shining slogan, “compassionate conservatism,” is the in-humane, COMPASSIONLESS disregard for the suffering of others. Of course war is not compassionate for either side. So-called “compassionate” conservatives ignore preventable human tragedies like the ongoing genocide in Darfur, mass starvation in Nigeria, or the recent genocide in Rowanda, which was ignored by the entire world but for a few U. N. peacekeeping remnants. George W’s “Compassion” for the corporate world is a big part of fundamentalism’s economic shadow. “Compassionate” conservatives care more about the welfare of corporate America than for human suffering. Hypocritical, shadow-laden “compassion” is not new. Hitler and Stalin were two of the most vigorous “pro-lifers” of all time, as were numerous other tyrants. They (Hitler and Stalin) also criminalized previously legal abortions immediately upon taking power.
Looking closely at the whitewashed rhetoric of the fundamentalist shadow, we hear more black magic—oft-repeated mantras like, “family values,” the “right to life,” and a “culture of life.” But what about a trickle of compassion for the estimated 29,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable neglect, starvation, disease, and abuse—a horrific “slaughter of innocents.” What about their “right to life?” Hey, it’s OK—we have a “no child left behind” policy—just a global, bloody sea of dead, ignored children in small coffins.
What we really have under the Bush puppet theocracy is a horrific example of the fundamentalist shadow that has created a heartless culture governed by what is really a “pro-birth,” anti-life doctrine—a consistent erosion of basic human and civil rights—all utterly un-American! In Iraq (at this writing), over 1,893 American soldiers have been killed and another 13, 000 wounded, many horribly crippled and disfigured for life. Incredibly brave young men and women—yet in reality victims of a fundamentalist/political cult’s deadly shadow. The independent public database, www.iraqbodycount.net, reports over 24,000 innocent civilian deaths in Iraq resulting directly from military action by the United States and its allies—definitely not good for our “image.” But this barely-seen slaughter by a “compassionate,” hide-the-coffins Republican cult must be kept in the shadows because, as our President recently explained: “Those people (Iraqi insurgents) kill innocent civilians… women and children.”
Then we have the shadow travesty of religious fundamentalists’ attempts to stop stem cell research.[******] George W. Bush, replying to questions about proposed stem cell legislation, said “…the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote science which destroys life in order to save life -- I'm against that.” Here’s the shadow: No life-saving stem cell research but immense, treasury draining, scientific research into anti-missile systems, nuclear bunker-busting weapons and a whole new arsenal of mini-nuclear weapons—sounds a lot like “using science which destroys life in order to save life!” I hear that lion roaring!
Over time, dictators and other cult leaders tend to become increasingly paranoid, unpredictable, and treacherously impulsive. Throw nuclear weapons into this toxic mix of fundamentalism, politics and explosive shadow dynamics and we have a planet in serious jeopardy at best—a doomsday scenario at worst. Robert J. Lifton, the author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, explains that fundamentalism exists “always on the edge of violence because it ever mobilizes for an absolute confrontation with a designated evil, thereby justifying any actions taken to eliminate that evil.”
So what can you and I do about this group shadow dilemma? We can expose the fundamentalist, group-based lies that are redefining and reshaping both political parties. We can insist that our government and its leaders focus on solutions instead of forcing everyone to swallow dogma saturated with one religious group’s “truth,” one group’s concept of “moral values.” And we can demand that zealots and ideologues keep their self-righteous claws off our democracy. Real solutions that promote free and open societies will never come from fundamentalist groups dragging their long heavy bags of intolerance and “tyranny over the minds of men.”
Shadow work begins with brutally honest self-examination, the courage to admit one’s errors and mistakes, and the moral integrity to change policies, ideas, and opinions that have proven to be fallacious or harmful to others. Corrupt leaders and governments have always feared independent, critical-thinking, informed, skeptical, free, educated citizens. It’s time we withdrew our overly “educated,” thinking, informed psyches from Bush’s war—his great crusade “to end tyranny in the world,” that paranoid, militant, fundamentalist misadventure that sees anyone who is not conforming to their world view as the enemy. It’s time for civilized, compassionate, courageous people everywhere to refuse to participate in sanctifying a morally bankrupt administration with patriotic doublespeak. James Madison warned, “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
Looking honestly at our own dark side as individuals, as members of groups, and as a nation does something quite remarkable; it gives us a healthy dose of humility and empathy for others. It also exposes the ghastly consequences of power abused, of corruption and secrecy in high places. In his book, Faces of the Enemy, Sam keen explains the “first rule” for understanding our own shadow: “Listen to what the enemy says about you… Borrow the eyes of the alien, see yourself from afar. …Look with suspicion on the rhetoric of your nation.”
We need leaders who are skilled at encouraging constructive, even harsh criticism and healthy skepticism, which Jefferson believed was essential for responsible citizenship. We need leaders who understand the value of different ideas and opinions, who understand that it is often the opposite point of view that enriches our perspective and inspires a creative solution that transcends warfare between opposite positions.
The shadow enables us to deny responsibility for our actions; evil is always “out there.” But at some point, so-called moderate, non-violent Christians and Moslems must take responsibility for the militant consequences of their beliefs systems. Like the German peoples’ denial of Nazi death camps or the world’s ongoing blindness toward genocide, every peace-loving Christian and every peace-loving Moslem who remains silent, has the blood of innocents on his or her hands, as does each and every politician who has cowardly fallen to their knees before the brutal gods of religious fundamentalism, fanaticism and war.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, as a soldier and then as the thirty-fourth President of the United States, knew the savage, inhumane consequences of warfare. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” We need to change our national priorities from a culture of existence in the shadowy wastelands of war and increasing military expenditures to a culture of creating what scientist and philosopher, Buckminster Fuller called “livingry,” a culture of compassion that actually values and protects all life, a culture that respects learning, supports scientific research, invention, free inquiry, and acknowledges our common humanity.
I would like to see the United States return to being an inspiring role model, to helping others improve their quality of life—a nation known for real compassion and benevolence instead of an arrogant, threatening, military-industrial leviathan that inspires increasing revulsion, contempt, and fear from the world community. But people make a nation and real change begins with each individual. As for religious groups, the Dalai Lama has a straightforward strategy: “This is my simple religion,” he says. “There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
Looking at our world and religious extremists on both sides, I’m hopeful that all the killing and savaging of life will finally wake people up to the awesome destructive power of groups and belief systems that have become more important than human life, simple compassion, and love for one another. But realistically, unless we change, I also see a very dangerous world, a dark side that poets describe best: “And we are here as on a darkling plain…Where ignorant armies clash by night.”
* Christians torturing Christians who were different and plundering their villages was quite common during the crusades. Battles over different interpretations of religious texts exemplify what Freud referred to as the “narcissism of small differences.” See: A History of the Crusades: The First Hundred Years, ed. Marshall W. Baldwin (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1955).
** In 1986, an article about Don Rumsfeld in the Chicago Tribune listed helping “re-open U.S. relations with Iraq” when he served as Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East as one of his career achievements. The State Department reported that while Rumsfeld was opening relations with Iraq, Saddam Hussein was murdering thousands of Kurds using chemical weapons.
*** When Moslems and Christians fought during the crusades (1096 – 1204), both sides believed the other was the enemy of their one, true, God.
**** I use the term “evangelical” as “relating to, or being a Christian church believing in the sole authority and inerrancy of the Bible.”
***** More than 10,000 reputable, peer-reviewed climate scientists believe the evidence that shows rapid shifts in global temperature are caused by human activity. Reported by Johann Hari in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 29, 2005, p. D1.
****** According to the British government’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) report on stem cell research (in China, South Korea, Great Britain, Israel, and Singapore), China is “at or approaching the forefront of international stem cell research.” China also engages in “significant recruitment” of U.S. and other Western scientists, the DTI report noted, luring them with promises of greater freedom and well-funded research centers. Reported by Micah Morrison in Parade Magazine, July 10, 2005, pp. 4-5.
1. Robert Bly, A Little Book on the Human Shadow (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988), p. 2.
2. Paul D. Wolfowitz, qtd. in The New York Times, 22 July 2003.
3. For more information on group shadow dynamics in political and religious organizations, see: Under the Influence: the Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics, by John D. Goldhammer. (New York: Prometheus Books, 1996).
4. Basil Davidson, Africa in History (New York: Touchstone, 1991), p. 219.
5. Khomeini, Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini, 4.
6. José Chapiro, Erasmus and Our Struggle for Peace (Boston: Beacon, 1950), pp. 158, 171.
7. James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004), p. 182.
8. Pat Robertson, The New World Order (Word Publishing, 1991), p. 227.
9. Andrew Bacevich, American Empire, pp. 215ff. His emphasis.
10. Theodore Roosevelt, cited in: Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (New York: Ballantine Books, 1997), p. 185.
11. George W. Bush, quoted in: “London Bombings: Good police work,” The Seattle Post Intelligencer, July 14, 2005.
12. Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (New York: Doubleday, 1990), p. 236.
13. Lieutenant General Boykin, cited in: Arianna Huffington, Fanatics & Fools: The Game Plan for Winning Back America (New York: Hyperion, 2004), p. 47.
14. George W. Bush, “Commencement Address at the United States Military Academy in West Point,” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (June 1, 2002), 944-48.
15. Keen, Ibid., p. 27.
16. Hillman, Ibid., p. 197.
17. Supreme Court decision: Engle v. Vitale, 1962.
18. Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1953). Excerpted in Rossiter, The First American Revolution (San Diego: Harvest).
19. “The Secret Downing Street Memo.” The Sunday Times – Britain: May 1, 2005.
20. John Ashcroft, cited in: Arianna Huffington, Ibid., p. 63.
21. Mark Twain, “The Mysterious Stranger,” pp. 726-27.
22. George W. Bush, cited in: “Bush on Iraq War: Don’t Forget 9/11,” The Seattle Times, p. A1.
23. George W. Bush, “State of the Union Address,” Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (Jan. 29, 2002), 133-39.
24. Michael A. Genovese, “The Transformations of the Bush Presidency: 9/11 and Beyond,” The Presidency, Congress, and the War on Terrorism: Scholarly Perspectives, University of Florida Conference (Feb. 3, 2003). See: www.clas.ufl.edu/users/rconley/conferenceinfo.htm.
25. Carl Sagan, Ibid., p. 199.
26. According t the World Health Organization, more than 10.6 million children per year die before their fifth birthday. WHO attributes almost half (48 percent) of deaths under the age of 5 to diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and measles, which would mostly be preventable given appropriate care and treatment. A further 37 percent reflect neonatal causes, many of which might be avoidable, and a third of which are infection related. Thus, probably two-thirds of global deaths under the age of 5 could be averted, if the necessary resources for basic health care were in place and accessible. WHO report for 2000-2003.
27. “Bush On Life,” from: Bush's remarks with the Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Air America Radio, April 14, 2005.
28. Robert J. Lifton, The Protean Self: Human Resilience in an Age of Fragmentation (New York: Basic Books, 1993), p. 202.
29. Keen, Ibid., p. 95.
30. Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace.” Speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953.
31. From the poetry of Matthew Arnold.
John Goldhammer, Ph.D., is a Seattle, Washington (USA) psychologist and author of three books including, “Under the Influence: The Destructive Effects of Group Dynamics” (Prometheus Books). He created and taught these university classes:
The Psychology of Hate and The Psychology of Groups. This essay is adapted from a book in process as yet untitled. Email: email@example.com