It is said that nightmares in our dreams come to us as a means of gaining our attention to things that we are paying little or no attention to but that threaten our well-being. However, because all dreams negative or otherwise come in service of our health and well-being our nightmares are actually there to help us.
I believe that this is also true on a collective or societal level and that to some degree our everyday lives are lived as a dream and symbolically represent what is happening within the collective psyche of a culture.
As a culture we have ignored the effects that our willful ignorance has had on our lives individual, societal, and political. We deny what we don’t want to think about and gloss over the negatives so as to focus on the positives. In short, we have learned to be ostriches and hide our heads in the sand. To do this we deny our short comings, ignore the political complexities of modern life and shoot for as much immediate gratification as possible even if that gratification is just a sustaining of our pride and need to be right about our position and points of view.
But the collective has its own psyche that when overstressed by not being dealt with adequately will break free of its suppression and create crises of nightmare conditions that demand that we pay attention and do something to correct the problems. This is what nightmares in our dreams are doing and it is what the triplet crises of the Corona Virus, #metoo, and #blacklivesmatter nightmare is doing as well.
The people we vote for and the issues we ignore or refuse to deal with adequately because we think they are too complex or because we just don’t want to be bothered so we leave it up to the person who promises us to handle it regardless of whether they know how to or not has in many cases helped to produce the current nightmare. Also, our refusal to take a hard look at our biases, prejudices, and beliefs and how they serve or don’t serve us have also combined to create the perfect storm that has resulted in the nightmare we are all experiencing.
For many the answer is to continue to deny the problems, ignore any complicity and/or to be indifferent to the issues because that’s easier. In fact, those who are most complicit are those who attack anything or anyone who tries to make them face their complicity.
But the shadow side or dark side of our collective personality will not be suppressed forever and if it is it will eventually wreak havoc upon the body politic much as it would the body/mind of the individual. Empires have dissolved because its leaders and citizenry have ignored its ills. As a culture we as Americans have much to be proud of, but our continued suppression of our darker aspects will be our downfall as it has for all those empires and societies before us.
Our salvation is to be found in how we deal with and not hide from our darker aspects. It is time to vote intelligently for that which supports healing and unity amongst our disparate parts and not that which divides. It is time to confront the beliefs that enable the hurting and demeaning of others and not give them power. It is time to face the facts of what we have done and are continuing to do to our society and our environment. It is time for America to wake up and grow up.
What’s exciting, however is that there is a glimmer of hope still left and Leonard Cohen summed it up for me in his song, “Democracy is coming to the USA”
“It’s coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It’s here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA”