Friday, December 17, 2010

Shadow Self

Unfortunately, there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected. --Carl Jung
There has been a lot of press about Michael Vick making a public comment that he'd like a dog someday. For those of you who don't know, Vick was convicted for his rather gruesome activities related to dog fighting. 

I've been stirring up a little bit of controversy about this on Twitter and Facebook over the last couple of days. I knew this was going to happen--in fact it was my point. I like to think, I like when other people think, and I especially like when I get to think while in relationship to other's who are thinking. It makes for a richer experience. Don't you think?

The responses on Facebook and Twitter were complex, interesting, and thought provoking. I think as time permits, I'm going to make more provocative posts. It's a nice way to built a community built on dialogue--and to show that there is a way to talk about difficult things in a public forum in ways that are deep and meaningful.

One tweet, from @JosephLobdell, particularly caught my interest:
@jaypsyd Maybe splitting & fear are involved: if "evil" can be rehab'd, we who r "good" can poss become "evil." They hilight our shadow side.
Now Carl Jung isn't someone I think about every day. Maybe I should. For years I've been disturbed on one level or another when I see people responding to violence with violence. Vick's behavior is reprehensible. There isn't an excuse for it. Yet I become so sad when I hear how many express their anger in ways that make a call for retribution or more anger.
He's a useless piece of humanity who needs the same treatment he doled out
He needs to hang just like he did to his dogs.....and not anything less
Michael Vick should fall off the face of the earth
These are good people who made these comments. They care deeply about animals and their community. They are outraged about Vick's behaviors. I don't blame them. I am outraged too. I think these are also people who are willing to let us all see a little bit of the shadow side that in "polite" society we make every effort to keep hidden.

It's uncomfortable to come into contact with our shadow side. It's also important to make contact with it and know it's there. I deeply respect the folks who joined with me in a dialogue about Vick. It made me uncomfortable--and I'm sure it made others uncomfortable too.

In the end I am reminded that no one is all "good" or all "evil." We each have the capacity for an expansive compassion or crushing violence. The important challenge is to find windows so we can see both--and learn the tools we need to have so we can all make choices that move our lives toward compassion.

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