9/11 and Building Bridges
It’s been 11 years since 9-11 and in that period of time it seems there has been little progress made toward bridging the enormous divides that existed and possibly contributed to the iconic images the world recorded on that fateful Tuesday. If some of those responsible for flying airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center imagined they were redressing a wrong committed when infidels occupied holy lands to Muslims in the first Gulf War, their dramatic action led to an even larger presence of Westerners throughout the Middle East. Westerners watched the carnage of 9-11 and the United States briefly received the heartfelt empathy from people around the world but within months our military might was acting with a sort of collective bravado that made President Bush’s premature declaration of victory not only wrong but absurd.
Within 7 years of 9-11 the world witnessed the United States of America elect its first Black President, surely a sign of hope that differences were being overcome. However, bridging the divide between Islam and the West, between the poor and the rich, or even between blacks and whites in America has proven difficult. Eleven years after the world witnessed nearly 3000 people consumed in a blaze fueled by hatred as much as unspent jet fuel, the lessons that might have been learned go unrecognized.
Jung and analytical psychology have had answers to some of these most vexing problems. That the psyche may dichotomize the world of its impressions, that enantiodromia is as fundamental a feature of psychological function as the wave/particle duality is a fundamental feature of an electron, and that there are paths that allow a person to transcend such dichotomies are well established after nearly a century of Analytical Psychology. In fact, those avenues explored by Jung to contend with the divides of our psychological life have much earlier roots. When Richard Wilhelm set out as a Christian Missionary to China he left behind the conventional practice of Western Missionaries that begins and ends in the goal of conversion. Instead, he entered his mission field with deep respect and reverence for a culture and its people with thousands of years of collective history. While he served he also listened and opened himself to the wisdom that was before him. Because of that attitude, he was able to notice the jewel of the The Secret of the Golden Flower when he came upon it. He applied himself to translating it into German and thereby broadened that avenue by which Westerners might seek to reconcile apparent opposites.
Eleven years has been accompanied by dramatic changes. Here are some examples of things the world witnessed since the collapse of two towering and iconic images of Western capitalism.
- Countless lives lost through war, terror, starvation, treatable diseases, senseless gun violence, and downstream health effects of environmental degradation.
- Countless efforts by poor, disenfranchised people around the world to secure basic human rights including the Arab spring, Chinese dissidents, striking South African mine workers, self-immolation by Tibetan Buddhist monks, an indigenous leader delivers a petition with 600,000 signatures to the Brazilian government demanding that construction of a $10 billion dam be halted (Ireo Kayapo), Occupy WalL Street protesters seeking to diminish economic inequalities, women seeking inclusion and seeking basic safety and protection, and much more.
- Repeated instances of threatened economic uncertainty related to a hyperfocus upon principles that are becoming enshrined despite conflicting evidence. When taken to extremes, these ideas contribute to uncertainty and dramatic reversals. They include: the invisible hand made famous by Adam Smith’s infrequent invocation, free trade, globalization, deregulation, high frequency trading (H.F.T.), procurement of natural resources (like rare earth elements), ECB and debtor nations like Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal), and more.
- Developing shifts in power from West to East, from North to south, from mature industrialized to emerging , industrializing nations.
- Countless threats of tipping points being reached in terms of environmental degradation like: the accumulation of toxins in the Pacific garbage patch, global warming accelerating the melting of Arctic ice, Colony Collapse Disorder that is threatening bee populations, food and water supply shortages, debris from the Japanese tsunami washing ashore in the US introducing potentially invasive species, and loss of biodiversity.
- Introduction of potentially disruptive technology like: introduction of genetically modified foods, genomic research (including gene therapy), adoption of WiFi, adoption of Bluetooth standards, the public offering of Google (2004), Facebook is launched (2004), adoption of LED lighting, the opening of GPS (approx. 2004), Twitter is launched (2006)the first release of the iPhone (2007), introduction of the Kindle e-ink reader (2007), the release of the first iPad (2010), wider use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), expansion of deep water oil drilling,
Bridges to connect the vast differences between Islam and the West or the East and the West. There is a tinderbox full of volatile issues that can easily be ignited. On September 20, 2012 The Asheville Jung Center, in conjunction with ISAPZurich, will be presenting “Bridging West and East: C. G. Jung and Richard Wilhelm, a Fateful Relationship”. Dr. Murray Stein, along with Bettina Wilhelm (Richard Wilhelm’s granddaughter, and Shiuya Sara Liuh , a Training Candidate at ISAPZurich, will present the conference. Richard Wilhelm translated the I Ching and The Secret of the Golden Flower , two books that had profound effect upon C. G. Jung.
The polarization between nation states, between cultures, and even between factions with different cultures has become more exaggerated since the collapse of the Twin Towers 11 years ago. Richard Wilhelm devoted himself to bridging the chasm between the cultures of the East and West. Perhaps one way we can honor the 11th anniversary of 9-11 is to rededicate ourselves to building bridges that transcend the polarizations that continue to reassert themselves. Let us allow the streams from many different traditions to merge into a mighty river whose force can wash away any residue of fear and animosity arising from the illusions about our human condition. Many readers of the AJC are People of the Book. The following words are offered as a sort of meditation, you are invited to approach it as a sort of lectio divina.
“You must be free from the pairs of opposites. Poise your mind in tranquility.” (Bhagavad Gita)
“And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that [with your lives] you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind,” (Qur’an al-Baqarah2:143)
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
Jesus said to them: When you make the two one, and when you make the inside as the outside, and the outside as the inside, and the upper as the lower, and when you make the male and the female into a single one, so that the male is not male and the female not female, and when you make eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall you enter [the kingdom]. The Gospel of Thomas (Nag Hammadi Coptic Text)
““Nothing can exist without its opposite; the two were one in the beginning and will be one again in the end.” (C. G. Jung)
“When yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths. For night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change to yin.” (Commentary by C. G. Jung in the Secret of the Golden Flower)
“Thus one can no longer maintain the division between the observer and the observed. (in quantum theory) Rather, observer and observed are merging and interpenetrating aspects of one whole reality… (Wholeness and the Implicate Order 1981, p.9 )
“There were two brothers, the Black Knight and the White Knight, and they set off on a quest, each on his own, one going north and the other one south. After many years they met in a dark wood, and did not know each other. They immediately assumed that they were enemies until, when both were lying bleeding to death on the grass, they undid their helmets and recognized that they were brothers.” (Journey Inward, Journey Outward 1968, p.2)
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