Idol Worship, Idle Worship (3)

Here is a link to my most recent blog post, the third of a series of four under the general title of “Idol Worship, Idle Worship”:

 

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/11/13/idol-worship-idle-worship-3-god-in-community

 

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Idol Worship, Idle Worship (2)

Here is a link to my most recent post, the second of a series of four under the general title “Idol Worship, Idle Worship”:

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/11/6/idol-worship-idle-worship-2-breaking-the-circulation

 

Published in: on November 6, 2017 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Idol Worship, Idle Worship (1)

Here is a link to my most recent post, the first of a series of four under the general title “Idol Worship, Idle Worship”:

 

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/10/30/idol-worship-idle-worship-1-the-trauma-of-idolatry

Published in: on October 30, 2017 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Powerful Words (4)

Here is the link to the last of my series of four posts under the same general title of “Powerful Words.”

 

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/10/23/powerful-words-freedom-of-speech

Published in: on October 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Powerful Words (3)

Here is a link to my third of a series of four posts under the general title “Powerful Words”;

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/10/16/powerful-speech-disempowering-language

 

Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Powerful Words (2)

Here is a link to my second post in a series under the general title of “Powerful Words”:

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/10/2/powerful-words-a-cops-repentance

 

Published in: on October 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Powerful Words (1)

Here is a link to my fist post in a series under the general title of “Powerful Words”:

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com/blog-1/2017/10/2/powerful-words-a-confession

Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 5:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Announcing a New Blog Site for “Trauma and Philosophy”

As this new year of 2017 begins, I want to announce that I am switching my blog “Trauma and Philosophy” to a new website. Henceforth, please follow my posts at this new location:

https://www.traumaandphilosophy.com

What you will find at the new site so far is material that I have already posted here at the old site. However, beginning next Monday, January 9, I will be putting up new posts at the new site–but no longer at this one.

My regular posting days at the new Trauma and Philosophy site from now on until further notice will be Mondays.

Thank you all for following my blog!

Published in: on January 1, 2017 at 1:32 pm  Comments (2)  
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Embracing Ourselves (3)

This is the third and last in a series of posts under the same general title.

*     *     *

In general, the question I want to ask is: How do we embrace ourselves in our entirety? Specifically, I want to ask this question: How can we embrace not just those parts of ourselves we are proud of, and would like to be known by, but also—and especially—those parts of ourselves we are not proud of, and would not like to be known by?

*     *     *

How the Question Specifies Us

What projections are to us all individually, scapegoats are to us all collectively: the parts of ourselves we are continuing to disown. In that regard, the challenge to embrace ourselves entirely is the same for us all, both individually and collectively. It is the challenge of re-claiming or re-owning, which is to say, re-owning-up-to, those parts of ourselves we strive so consistently to disown. Only through such “reclamation” can we even genuinely lay claim to all of ourselves, and thereby become at last whole.

Only so, for instance (to use one of my own communities as an example again), can the United States of America become in reality, for the very first time ever, what it has for so long laid claim to being in its “Pledge of Allegiance”: one nation, indivisible. Indeed, for the United States or any other community, it is only insofar as we allow ourselves fully to be called into question by and in our own genuinely asking how we can embrace ourselves in our entirety, that there is any hope for someday actually doing just that: embracing ourselves in our entirety.

My specific focus in this series of posts, to repeat again, is on how we can cease disowning those among us who, although acting in our name and under our authority, commit deeds that bring dishonor upon us, shaming us. It is the question of how we can at last stop making scapegoats out of just such members of our community. How we can finally stop loading all of our collective sins on them as individuals, and then driving them out of our midst and into the wilderness, carrying all our sins with them—or so, at least, would we like to believe?

We can do so only by really asking that question of ourselves, and thereby experiencing ourselves as called into question. That happens when we experience ourselves called to confess contrition for the sins of those who, in our name and under our authority, commit shameful deeds. Only thus do we own up to our sins as truly ours, owning up to them as our own sins and, accordingly, accepting responsibility for repenting of what we have done through those we have called into our service, then sent out in our name and under our authority, and who have then committed crimes and atrocities. Only by such acceptance of our own responsibility, which most especially entails accepting the need to atone for what we have done through such instruments pressed into our service, can we ever reclaim the disowned parts of ourselves collectively—and become, at last, who we really are.

Such communal acts of confession, repentance, and atonement can and should include, to mention only one crucial thing, a dimension of ritual communal observance. In the United States, for instance, just as we have officially set aside such days of remembrance as Veterans Day or Memorial Day for honoring the memory of those who have served and even died “under arms” for this country, so might we set aside other days of remembrance for expressing contrition for the atrocities that have far too often been committed by those we have so placed “under arms.”

We could set aside December 29 for such a purpose, for example, to mark the day in 1890 that United States troops massacred American Indian men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Or we might set aside March 16, the date on which the My Lai massacre in Vietnam took place in 1968. Or we could choose any of the regrettably large number of other dates that mark atrocities committed by United States troops enacting national policies. We could set aside at least one day, if not a number of days, as days of national confession, contrition, and atonement.

On such a day we could practice embracing ourselves in our entirety, disowning none of us.

Published in: on December 12, 2016 at 10:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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Embracing Ourselves (2)

This is the second in a series of posts under the same general title.

*     *     *

In general, the question I want to ask is: How do we embrace ourselves in our entirety? Specifically, I want to ask this question: How can we embrace not just those parts of ourselves we are proud of, and would like to be known by, but also—and especially—those parts of ourselves we are not proud of, and would not like to be known by?

*     *     *

Specifying the Question

Most specifically, what I want to focus on is this question: How can we embrace those of us who individually, yet in our collective name and under our collective authority, do deeds that bring shame and dishonor to us all collectively? That is, how can we as a community embrace among ourselves even those of us who, in our very name and under our very authority, commit crimes and perpetrate atrocities?

How, for instance, can the United States of America, one of the communities to which I belong, embrace not just its war heroes but also its war murderers, as it were. It is easy enough, and morally inexpensive, for us as a nation to embrace “Alvin York, Eddie Rickenbacker, and all the other veterans who served the United States honorably during World War I and during all other U.S. wars before and since then,” to quote myself from a post I put up on my own personal Facebook page just this last November 11 (Veterans Day, which was originally established as Armistice Day to memorialize the end of the active hostilities of World War I). We have no trouble embracing all such exemplary soldiers, named and anonymous. But how can we manage to embrace not just such heroic individuals but also “such baby killers and murderers of women, old men, and other innocents as Vietnam war veterans William Calley and Bob Kerrey”? Or, to use a more recent example (one I also used in the same recent Facebook post) to ask the same question: How can all of us who constitute the United States collectively embrace not just all the veterans whom we have sent into our wars in the Middle East during this current century, and who performed their military service in a way that honored us as a nation, or at least brought no dishonor on us, but also those veterans we sent into the same wars, but who acted in ways that did bring dishonor on us as a nation, such as the veterans “who tortured Iraqi prisoners during the U.S. war in Iraq”?

My asking of that question here is not for the sake of such dishonorably serving veterans themselves. It is not for William Calley’s or Bob Kerrey’s sake that I ask it. Nor is it for the sake of those veterans who tortured Iraqi prisoners.

As I have written already in my preceding series of posts on this blog, I have compassion for any such veterans who suffer from the memories of their own misdeeds, and I honestly hope they can find a way to live with those memories and to accept their irremediable guilt. However, that is not my focus in this series of posts.

Rather, in specifying the general question I formulated in my first post of this series, my focus here is on us as a community, and not on them as veterans bearing the burden of “moral injury” for their own past deeds. My focus is on how we as a nation can embrace those very veterans whose service gave us reasons for national shame, embrace them alongside all those other veterans whose service gave us reasons for national pride.

We sent troops into Vietnam, into Afghanistan, and into Iraq. We fed those troops full of an ideology in accordance with which much if not most of the world is ranged against us, despite the fact—or perhaps just because of it: out of envy—that we as a nation (at least, so we tell ourselves) are the “shining city on a hill,” “the last, best hope for mankind.” We painted the enemy as consisting of no more than “Communists,” “Gooks,” “Slopes,” “Rag-heads,” “Islamic terrorists,” or some other species of evil creature, less than fully human—or at least less gloriously so than we ourselves so obviously are. We appealed to the patriotism we have so long instilled into our youth. We appealed as well to their desire to serve, and to make a difference in the world. Most of all we took advantage of the destitution and lack of economic prospects that faced the least privileged segments of our younger population, segments disproportionally composed of blacks and Hispanics, by offering them regular pay and benefits, and a way, supposedly, out of the ghetto. By those and whatever other means suggested themselves to us—including appeals based on images of heroism, glory, and superstardom taken from Star Wars and Marvel Comics—we enticed young men and women to enlist in our military forces. Then we sent them off to fight the good fight against what we had always depicted to them as our demonically evil, fanatical, stop-at-nothing, Godless (or at least idolatrous), terrorist enemies. We equipped them with an abundance of all the latest weaponry, and sent them off to kill for us—but only to kill, of course, “if need be.”

Yet then, when some of them “crossed over the line,” a line we’d never spent any real time or effort trying to show them and help them internalize as a line of moral proscription, and when they committed atrocities under conditions of war, what did we do? Simple! We abandoned those who did cross that line, even if they did so under orders from their military superiors. Far from continuing to embrace them and celebrate their service to us, their country—celebrate it at least in cheap words and easy-to-commercialize ceremonies—we berated them. We made an example of them. At least we made an example of those who make the mistake of being found out in their trespasses.

In short, we turned them into scapegoats—a common, easy way for most of us to wash our hands of the rest of us.

My specific question is how we can finally stop doing that, and find a way to embrace ourselves entirely.

*     *     *

To be continued.

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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