Collective Shadow

[written in late 2014…]

Numerous situations around the globe challenge us with their brutality and oppression. I think immediately of Israel and Gaza, Ferguson Missouri, the *Taliban and other Muslim Terrorists* as it is manifesting in several hotspots from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, and the new poster child of despicable terror: ISIL in Syria and Iraq. If it is true, and I sense that it is as I am doing the inner work that makes this so apparent, that the world *out there* is only reflecting back to us what our own inner world looks like, then this often-called *shadow* is what needs to be addressed if we are to have peace in our world. Quantum Physics tells us that consciousness is our only tool we can use to investigate consciousness; in this hall of mirrors we use human activity in order to investigate human activity. Our observation makes manifest a particular energy potentiality; the collapse of the wave function happens in congruence with our observational energy. We see *outside* what we have pushed away from our own inner sense of ourselves: we see our shadow.
What do we see in the Middle East? We see one nation, Israel, so fearful for its continued existence that it has been oppressing, occupying, and even at times ethnically cleansing the Palestinian peoples whose only crime is that they continue to try to inhabit their ancestral lands. Palestinians were forced into refugee camps when Britain, then still a global colonizer, *deeded* large swaths of Palestine to the new nation state of Israel, to become the *homeland* of the Jewish people. This action was the result of decades of campaigning by *Zionists*, mainly in Europe, who happened to be Jewish. Not all Jews are Zionists; in fact, there are many Jews who are so not-Zionist that they have stood up against the immense pressure of their culture and refuse to perform their compulsory military service in Gaza.
On the other side, there are the Palestinians. Many still hold the paper *deed* to homes that have been in their family for generations; conveying control or ownership over orchards, gardens, and residences, many of which have been destroyed since 1948 when Israel took over. It is important to point out that there never was a Jewish *nation*; Zionism was never about returning a people to their state. One who views these facts from a distance might expect that when someone loses such longstanding claims to property that they would be fairly compensated. In this case, that person would be wrong. Is it any wonder then that 65+ years on there might be some amount of resentment on the part of the Palestinians for the way they have been, and continue to be, marginalized and oppressed by their *conquerors*?
So what does all of this have to do with our collective American shadow? How is our view of this situation a reflection of some part of our national psyche that doesn’t fit into our view of ourselves? Why are we so vocal in either our support or our condemnation of either side in this Middle Eastern conflict? Think back to the founding of our country: the land here was occupied when the first *colonists* arrived on the Eastern shores. America was not an empty, vacant land awaiting Europeans. In a very similar fashion, the settlers were more willing and able to oppress the native peoples than the natives were willing and able to fight back. The colonists used disproportionate force, much as we see Israel doing to Gaza today, to force the natives off their ancestral lands and onto tiny, inadequate *reservations*. Trade was severely circumscribed and, as the colonists’ economic system had no relevance to the native peoples’ economy, largely a sham that covered up *trade* that can only be called theft if we are honest about it. Twenty-four dollars’ worth of beads and baubles to buy Manhattan? If you are descended from Europeans, you think, “What a steal deal!” If you are from Native ancestors, you think, “My people didn’t *own* the land in any sense of the word as it was used by colonists…we didn’t *sell* anything. We accepted a gift of some beads.” The clash of cultures is rarely understandable by either party.
Have I written words here that affront your sensibilities? Sit with those feelings for a moment; of course I represent here a perspective on history that is slanted in favor of the oppressed; but has the story that our dominant culture has created around the situation in Israel and Palestine managed to lead to any solutions to the continual violence there? Palestinian supporters are quick to defend the freedom fighters as a rational reaction to oppression. Negotiation, the tactic tried for several decades, hasn’t worked. In 2006 when Hamas won an election in the West Bank because the people were tired of the corruption and inadequacy of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel focused on the stated goal of Hamas to push Israel off Palestinian land as the *ultimate threat* to its existence. If you think, like Israel, that Palestinians should be quiet, accept their fate, and each and every year concede more territory to Israel then you must also be against the American Revolution. The Minutemen, those guerrilla fighters sniping at the British soldiers from behind cover, and the Boston Tea Party, a riot that destroyed other peoples’ property, are revered as reasons *America is great*. We celebrate these freedom fighters every year with fireworks and a national holiday. Supporters of Israel are quick to point out that as long as Hamas is leading a resistance that is dedicated to destroying Israel, there can be no thought of peace. This quickly slides into a defense of *any means necessary*, excusing disproportionate force that results when the world’s fifth-largest military, armed and trained by the most war-like nation on Earth, attacks a territory that hasn’t seen a budget, let alone military funding, for several generations. Kind of like Cowboys-and-Indians, if you see my point.
Again, back to the lack of a solution: what would make you happy, if you were a negotiator for the Palestinians? Could you accept anything short of either an end to the occupation and a return to your ancestral home or fair and just compensation for its loss? What would that look like, besides impossible? And from the other side, would Israelis be satisfied if they could randomly pick 1800 Palestinians, including 400 children, put them into a gas chamber, and end the reign of Hamas? Yes, I know I am provoking a reaction; but why is bombing to death acceptable when gassing to death is not? Does it make it even more scandalous, this murderous, bombing behavior, in the fact that it has yet to accomplish Israel’s stated goals? And back to our collective shadow: if compensation for stolen land is what it would take in Palestine to right past wrongs, what would it take in America? You are likely unable to even process the cost, who would pay, and the results of giving the Native Americans who have managed to survive genocide their fair and just compensation. The topic of reparations comes up from time to time in mainstream media; and is quickly squelched by an uproar that is loud, quick, and efficient. What else can possibly solve this crisis in the Middle East? Besides recognizing that it is Zionist v. Hamas, not Jew v. Muslim, and that any solution rests in finding what is fair and just for all humans, not just one faction, I mean.
Is what we see today in the Middle East a reflection of something even deeper? Do we, the collective *we*, let our anger spill over into violence and death because that somehow feels easier than facing our true problems? If a just solution for all involves the fair distribution of our community’s needs, necessities, and *wealth*, wouldn’t that contradict the separate, individualistic, profit-driven economic system we now depend upon for our very life? Wouldn’t we have to work to supply aid convoys instead of tanks and drones? Wouldn’t we have to offer doctors and drugs rather than military advisors and ammunitions? Wouldn’t we have to see *life*: all life, not just humans; as more valuable than profit or property? Wouldn’t we have to finally acknowledge and address our shadow?
If you’re still with me, the same approach works in Ferguson too. Our focus is on the militarized police, as if putting on military camo and driving armored vehicles on city streets has generated a *new* brutality in Ferguson’s finest. Shooting unarmed men of color happens every day in America, and has for centuries. Our collective shadow would rather not admit that still, today, in our modern world of high technology and *diversity*, you cannot get a fair and just chance in life if you are not white. People of color are not shocked by Ferguson, mothers everywhere in America worry every time their son leaves the house that he might run afoul of some white person with a gun. A white person who will be forgiven for killing *a threat to my safety*; completely marginalizing the black youth who should have an equal chance at life. Women shot on front porches while knocking on the door to get help after having a car accident: what threat could that have possibly posed that deserves bullets in response? In a *Stand Your Ground* state, of which we have 21, it goes without saying that whites can get away with horrible judgment like this.
Yes, the police now have upgraded their ability to apply disproportionate force in ways that make for good video, if you like camo and fancy gear that is. When we look at what has happened in Ferguson and point fingers at the heavy-handed, fear-driven response to peaceful demonstrators asking for accountability, really we are just reflecting our own history of over-reacting to emotional upsets. We too have *gone postal* on someone unable to defend themselves, who didn’t deserve it, and who we will force to continue to accept our domination and abuse, just because we can. Missouri came close to getting it right: several days into this event they appointed a local officer to take over and he went straight out into the streets to ask the people what they needed in order to feel peace. But even this sensible approach was unable to overcome the fear of looters; the rights of property once again supersede the rights of human beings and late that night the tear gas once again began to fly despite the orders issued by the person nominally *in charge*. Guess he wasn’t in charge after all; maybe that was just window dressing? We all have been there: oh so close to doing the right thing, only to fall back into habit and make a fist and strike out when peace was sitting in the palm of our hand. Again the question is: what does it look like, when peace and justice descend over Ferguson? Again the answer; we have to confront the demons that dwell in our own hearts, that drive us to lash out, that leave us judging and stereotyping and oppressing and killing the *other* that we haven’t even tried to understand. From 40,000 feet in the air we don’t see *national borders*; we can’t tell if someone’s skin is white or black. When we finally can see anything of life, we see humans and animals and plants all just trying to raise their offspring with as much dignity and hope as can be mustered in whatever situation we have found ourselves in. At least those of us who get it see that; those who don’t only see people oppressing, killing, rebelling, exterminating, or merely surviving. Which view is yours?

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