Between The Darkest Night And The Coming Light

Hope, Edward Burne-JonesTwo nights before Christmas I was lying in my bed in the dark and pondering what I had written in Facing the Apocalypse: A Call for Outrageous Courage, Love, and Compassion and the responses I have been getting from readers. It is interesting to note the reflections I’m sharing with you came the day after the darkest night of the year, the day that light begins to emerge. They also came three days before the Christmas story tells us Divine Love becomes incarnate, born into our world to both heal it and challenge us to live lives founded upon courage, love, and compassion.

The two quotations from Dr. Jung I use in opening the book won’t stop reverberating deep inside of me. The first one is, “Where love stops, power begins, and violence, and terror.” The second one is, “The individual’s feeling of weakness, indeed non-existence, was thus compensated by the eruption of hitherto unknown desires for power.” They sum up how we find ourselves in the chaotic mess our society is in now. In the book I explain how letting the values of our hearts slip away from how we run our lives for decades has taken us into an extreme quest for power, often expressed as achievement, and how this quest generates a pool of fear inside of us that we have little awareness of. We have created an endless circle when our quest for power and the fear it generates causes our continuous desire for “more”—more money, more material things, more entertainment, more busyness—more of anything that we hope will make us feel safe or distract us from our underlying state of anxiety. Simply put in psychological terms, the dominant complex (neurosis) in our society is one of seeking power and greed that compensates our collective wounds to love in the very heart of our nature.

This wound to the heart of our humanity has led us to where we are today personally and as a society. And, we must realize that not only is the future in our hands, but so is whether we even have a future or not. Furthermore, we will not find a magical leader who can save us. We must transform ourselves, and enough of us have to transform ourselves to transform our society. There are lessons in history for these kinds of transformations. We have a good example in the Old Testament. When the children of Israel strayed away from God they encountered various apocalyptic experiences that destroyed their society or specific cities in question. But, there was one notable exception. When Jonah the prophet warned the people of Nineveh to repent, as the prophets had in the previous cases, they heeded his warning and were spared. Repent, in its ancient terms, meant to feel so sorry you turn back to an opposite state. In our case this would mean turning away from the pursuit of power and greed back to the values of the heart, which are the values supporting the best in all of our great religions. I share directions for making this turn in my book.

The apocalypse in a psychological sense is an archetypal pattern that unveils a severe reality that has been previously present but unseen. Now it is showing us that we don’t really have a good choice. We must turn from the pursuit of power and achievement in their destructive aspects or face a very catastrophic future. But, when we have strayed so far away from the values of the heart—its courage, its strength, its capacity for love and compassion—making the transformation we need to make isn’t easy. We have to remember and relearn a lot. I have tried to be as helpful as I can in giving guideposts for that journey in my book. My heart is aching and I am beginning to feel my cry is desperate.

But I know that just beginning this journey can give us hope. Vaclav Havel reminded us that hope is a “…state of mind, not a state of the world… It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond the horizon.” To begin the journey into a new life, a transformed life based on a heart that is being transformed, will bring us new hope, new vitality, and a new spirit of life. The miracle that we are reminded of during this time of the year is that every small step we take to change ourselves will ripple out into the world and help transform it.

With all of my love I am inviting you to join this committed journey into the new year.


art credit: Hope, Edward Burne-Jones

Categories: Articles by Drs. Bud and Massimilla Harris
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