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The Trump Presidency: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

The Trump Presidency: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

Quite the pickle America and the world finds itself in. While I am Canadian, I’m just going to say “we” for the rest of the piece because a Donald Trump presidency is unprecedentedly significant for the rest of the world. Besides, we all have a hand in this.

Confusion and fear reign as many wonder how on earth this election outcome was possible. Collective shock has taken hold. Dazed, and on the heels of Brexit and the US election, we immediately find ourselves at yet another crossroads.

With the nuclear codes having somehow been placed into the hands of such a damaged and volatile human being, the dysfunctionality of our economic and political systems have been laid bare. Why are we here? There is plenty of blame to go around, between the ratings-hungry and fear-mongering cable news networks, both major political parties and the people. But the challenge is to move beyond the partisan fingering-pointing. There are bigger picture, deeper issues facing the Unites States, and the world, that are more relevant to the situation than anything to do with Democratic or Republican parties, both of which have become transparently corrupt and ineffective.

The nature of the current citizen response is critically important. If those on both sides continue to parse and cherry-pick information in order to vilify each other the danger to the nation, and the world, could be catastrophic. The reality, masked by decades and centuries of avoidance and denial, is that America is beset by disowned foundational trauma, revolving around the Native American Genocide, Slavery and The Civil War, the effects of each of which continue to wreak havoc, hundreds of years after the fact. Standing Rock, the police shootings of African-Americans and the recent election highlight the explosive synergy between these three historic traumas, which has now come to a head.

In all three traumas, responsibility and contrition have been largely avoided by Christian Americans who now suffer from a generational and profound shame that nobody wants to really look at, for obvious reasons. Some will balk at what is being presented here, suggesting that those things happened long ago. The argument that those are issues of the past has never been as hollow as it is at this moment when the continued impact of these traumas is now plain as day.

In the long term, when traumas, personal or global, are left untended to then the perpetrator becomes the victim, a slave to the guilt that has not been reconciled. Carrying around this burden has become debilitating for the United States, but also for the world as much of humanity struggles under their own versions of terrible betrayal of their fellow humans.

Our avoidance in tackling our traumas is totally understandable. We are afraid to look in the mirror because of what we will see. It’s painful. Between the latent historical traumas and our personal childhood trauma, which so many of us have, we find ourselves at a tipping point. This state of affairs can no longer be endured. One way or another, it must shift.

Enter: Donald Trump, an extreme manifestation of our collective neglected trauma screaming for attention, desperate for acceptance, yet perpetually rejected. It’s not on purpose. It’s too painful to engage with, so we distract ourselves to avoid the truth that has become patently obvious: America, the world, is sick, the severity of the condition represented by President-elect Trump.

Whether you voted for him or not, his is the prevailing energy at the fore at this point in time. And everyone has a piece of it because nothing happens without the tacit/active approval of the people. At the extremes, which have become increasingly normalized, some of us hate along with Mr. Trump, and others just hate Mr. Trump. In the end, beneath the veneer, there is little difference between the two positions.

What does it mean that Congress has a 13% approval rating? In what other arena are the players so inept yet still allowed to keep doing the same old same old? What does it mean when a paltry 53% of eligible voters participated in one of the most consequential elections in the history of the United States? By the way, let us not distract ourselves with the Electoral College and the argument that Hillary Clinton won more of the popular vote – by an unconvincing 2%. The more important figure is that almost 75% of eligible voters cared neither for her nor Donald Trump. Does democracy get any less watered-down than the ‘winner’ sporting a 25% mandate?

Like it or not, our representatives reveal how well we think of ourselves. We are the bosses. These are the people we have hired. A 13% Congress persists because of a 300 year old legacy of sacrificing our feelings at the altar of The Age of Reason. Regardless of gender, the feminine, the emotional, the instinctual, the gentle and the big picture have been overwhelmed by a masculine, logical, specializing, practical and penetrating perspective that crosses class and religious boundaries. The result of this profound, historic imbalance between the masculine and the feminine is a fearful, abusive, violent, misogynistic, racist, pornographic culture that has relegated community, compassion and empathy to sideshow status, leaving in its wake a traumatized and confused culture that escapes and survives via its cornucopia of addictions that have become normalized.

Mr. Trump is the living embodiment of what is axiomatic but still not well understood: what we reject most vigorously in others is an energetic match for what lies within ourselves. That’s tough, because it requires us to look within. It requires us to take responsibility for ourselves. Unfortunately, self-reflection is not a strong suit of the hyper-rational mind, since it lies in the emotional sphere, where the heart connection resides. How many of us have only limited access to that receptive and loving place? Who amongst us knows what joy really tastes like? Instead, how many of us are fixing for a fight, our latent anger and frustration lurking just beneath the mask we deploy every day to engage with a world that makes so little sense? We chide our children for throwing tantrums or bullying when we have taught them everything they know. Things haven’t gone the way of Trump haters so they’re going to throw a hissy-fit – a tantrum because things didn’t work out the way they needed them to; so that they could feel okay; so that they could feel that things are still under control.

How many of us regularly unleash our incredulity on a random person over a harmless infraction? As pedestrians, cyclists and drivers we are ready to wag an accusatory finger at one another over some apparent advantage taken, or a moment of unawareness, that might have delayed us from reaching our destination by thirty seconds. And while we are fiercely condemning them for their act, we instantly take in their appearance, their race, their gender, their age, their sexual orientation, their fitness level and come up with a personality profile that is born of ego, fear, judgment and bias; that conjures vulnerability in the other; to make us feel better; superior; to give us the justification we need to avoid recognizing our role in creating that very experience in order to show us our state of consciousness; empathy on life-support.

 

THE CIVIL WAR AND THE CREATION OF THE CONTINENTAL POVERTY DIVIDE

Nothing more needs to be said about the lasting ignominy of both the Native American Genocide and Slavery. However, the third trauma, The Civil War, is not so straight forward. A closer look at the motivations behind The Civil War sheds an important light on the ever-present North-South divide, represented here in a map which details the aptly named, Continental Poverty Divide:

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How did this grossly unequal state of affairs come to be? A great myth of American history is that disagreement between North and South over Slavery was the primary reason for the Civil War, and that Slavery was mostly a Southern problem. In fact, the reason for the conflict was overwhelmingly economics. Of course, the victor always gets to write the history, and so it is that Abraham Lincoln has deified, having been credited with acting on behalf of slaves when in fact he only became an abolitionist, and a limited one at that, when it suited his political ends.

In September, 1858, during his campaign for the Senate, Mr. Lincoln said to a crowd in Charleston, Illinois:

“I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races (applause); that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people… And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

Furthermore, “racism in the North was as entrenched as slavery in the South, and it would take the war to shake both. New York blacks could not vote unless they owned $250 in property (a qualification not applied to whites). A proposal to abolish this, put on the ballot in 1860, was defeated two to one (although Lincoln carried New York by 50,000 votes).”

For Lincoln, the overwhelming imperative was keeping the Union together with Federal Government supremacy over fiscal matters, especially taxation. During the Civil War, in a letter to one of his generals here wrote:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because it helps to save this Union…”

When the Emancipation Proclamation “was issued January 1, 1863, it declared slaves free in those areas still fighting against the Union (which it listed very carefully), and said nothing about slaves behind Union lines. The London Spectator wrote concisely: “The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.”

153 years later, the revisionist history is gospel, which keeps alive the idea that the South was, and is, clearly more racist than the North. Jessica Barron, a sociologist at Duke University, says, “We as a nation do not like to talk about slavery in the north or our 12 presidents who owned slaves…” She goes on to say, “we need to understand that the entire foundation of the US is built on a racial hierarchy that has always said that white is better than black – not just in the south.” No doubt African-Americans in Chicago, Baltimore and New York would concur. (Sidebar: while African-Americans are almost 3 times as likely to be killed by police than Whites, any guesses as to who has it worse? The long forgotten who are even lower on the totem pole, if it can be believed, than African-Americans: Native Americans)

In short, despite conventional American denial, The Civil War was largely about economic and political control (which, of course, included control over decisions regarding Slavery). The Southern states resisted; in keeping with the ideals of the Declaration of Independence in which they would be free from the tyranny of centralized control. Indeed, it could be argued that inasmuch as the South might be ‘more’ racist than the north, that this position has been heavily influenced by the disingenuous prevailing history that the Civil War was about Slavery.

Regardless, The Civil War resulted a horrendous loss of life and the economic devastation of the South, from which it has yet to recover. The trauma the North inflicted on the South has not been reconciled or remedied, which means the trauma still remains in place, the deep distrust of the Establishment forces within the Federal Government passed down from generation to generation, still fresh, 153 years later.

Presently, the focus of the Left is, mistakenly, on the racist component of the vote instead of on what is more pertinent: namely, the continuing alienation of, and humiliation of, the Tier 2 Americans in the South. Add to this, the nation’s general Depression-era level income inequality and you have many millions of people who have been left in the economic dust and who have little faith in a political system that has not acted on their behalf.

After 153 years, millions of people are still tired of not being heard, tired not being acknowledged, tired of being so taken advantage of by a political and economic system that is absurdly skewed in favor of the Establishment and tired of being dismissed as simply racist. Is there a racist component to the Trump vote? Undoubtedly, since the Republican Party and their new President, have cynically used the racial card to gain support from frustrated and disenfranchised people. But to focus too much on the racial component, at the expense of the aforementioned factors, misses the larger point and perpetuates the divisions that brought about a Trump Presidency. If this chasm is allowed to persist, and expand, it could boil over into another national conflict.

 

THE MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL BANKRUPCTY OF AMERICA’S POLITICAL PARTIES

The status quo is so intolerable that millions risked electing, yes, a dangerous man, but also a man who spoke some truth to power, which no other Republican, or Democratic, candidate did. No doubt, to the extent that Mr. Trump spoke truth to power, it was self-serving. Nevertheless, he tapped into the national, nay global, push by people who have had enough of a system that benefits the few and abandons the many.

America is still living with this unresolved Civil War trauma, which has come to a head in our extreme left-brained culture that has trouble seeing, and feeling, the spaces between right and wrong, Left and Right, black and white, Democrat or Republican. We are stuck between a revisionist history rock and a binary approach hard place.

The emperor, the political system, has no clothes, or more accurately has had the clothes torn off. Do politicians really underestimate the people this much? Do they think we don’t see when they are being so crassly obvious? Well, we are starting to see. Don’t you see that? No, as amazing as that sounds. They do not see because the blinders that the elite have worn for centuries have engendered a generational myopia. Politicians of all stripes are so embedded in the game, so obsessed with maintaining or gaining power, so rationally divorced from their feelings, so beholden to their financial backers, that they are literally incapable of acting in the best interests of the people. This dog-eat-dog virtual-reality bubble that the Establishment, political and economic, has marooned itself in, has been at play for so long that they cannot see the forest for the trees – with grave consequences for the citizenry. Meanwhile, the confused citizenry extends the unconsciousness deep into the culture, unable to see through the fog…

This lack of vision and clarity has America on the precipice as their deep shame, entombed as it has been in the netherworld, rears its ugly head. The knee jerk reaction, generationally practiced, is to avoid and reject, in order to protect ourselves from the pain. The question is, will we open the door and engage with the beast on our terms, which will require unprecedented courage, or will we try to barricade the door, shut our eyes and cover our ears while shouting, la la la la la la, as loud as possible to drown out the sound of the battering ram that will, eventually, smash down the door?

We are all now perpetrator and victim, all rolled into one. None of us are purposely trying to make things worse, not the people and not the politicians. We’re all just trying to keep up, running, hair straight back, afraid to slow down, to stop. Afraid it will all catch up to us, like it has with 25% of Americans who suffer from mental illness, and countless more who are wondering what the hell is going on. We hear of epidemics all the time, none of which materialize, while we ignore the true epidemic in our midst. We are doing the best we can with a limited emotional toolbox.

How much global hate and ridicule have been, and continue to be, hurled Mr. Trump’s way? Many will argue that he clearly deserves it. After all, he’s just a loathsome, irredeemable fellow isn’t he? In our binary, rational world, we want to paint him with a single, vile brush. There. Done. Moving right along.

 

WHO IS DONALD TRUMP?

Speaking of a limited emotional toolbox, who is Donald Trump?According to biographers, Trump’s father was a workaholic, a ruthless, cold and authoritarian man who believed life is a competition where the “killers” win.” He passed his public bigotry and trauma on to Donald, who was such a trouble-maker that his father sent him off to military boarding school. We don’t usually have to dig too far to glean that it’s likely the unruly child has been damaged, unconsciously to be sure, by the family. How many of us unwittingly pass off our trauma to our children, then deny it, then leave the confused child to try to figure it out, foreshadowing the seemingly inexorable continuation of generational betrayal and trauma.

Rest assured, like many of us, Mr. Trump has suffered – mightily. How can we know this? He infamously suggested to the Pakistani-American father who lost his son in combat that he, Mr. Trump, had sacrificed as much as Mr. and Mrs. Khan. Of course, he was roundly condemned for his apparently absurd comment, which he then doubled down on for good measure. We write him off as a fool, but his life and actions reveal deeper truths.

Many people are afraid of Mr. Trump. That they are correct to be concerned is ironically and frighteningly displayed in this video of Mr. Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, recounting their father’s foundational advice when they were 11 and 4 years old, respectively. It is with pride that the brothers speak of their father telling them that they must never trust anyone, including each other, and including himself, their father. What a thing to tell your children. Why would Mr. Trump tell them that? It’s not because he’s just a jerk, though that’s one aspect of his life experience. It’s because he has unquestionably – yes unquestionably – been visited with extreme betrayal in his childhood, his heart connection severed. The extremity of this betrayal, on one end of the continuum, mirrors the extremity of the absence of trust that he so unconsciously bequeaths to the world and to his sons, who continue the tradition. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If we don’t trust our parents, our gods, then how can we trust life? That’s exactly the point for Mr. Trump. Life is not to be trusted. Only someone who has come from trauma and betrayal feels this way. Earnestly believing he is helping his children, Mr. Trump brands his “wisdom” onto his children’s foreheads, for all to see. To Mr. Trump, anything other than this realpolitik approach would be naïve and irresponsible.

A person who has no trust is capable of the gravest actions. This is the person who is now steering the ship.

So, in a way, Mr. Trump has sacrificed more than Mr. and Mrs. Khan. The Khans’ lost a son yet exude dignity and decency. At some point, unable to cope, Mr. Trump lost himself, as do many of us. He sacrificed himself to survive. The alarming consequences are on display for the world to see; alarming because quite a few Americans are so traumatized and/or far gone with their disgust towards the Establishment that they will consider voting for such a man. Dig a little deeper and understand that some of these people are an energetic match for the traumatized Mr. Trump. The ascendency of Donald Trump reveals just how widespread the trauma is, and how badly the Establishment, bolstered by the populace, has mismanaged the country.

Meanwhile, the more his supporters are derided, the more emboldened and unpredictable they become, including the millions of them who may not display the obvious unsavoriness of Mr. Trump, but who feel deep-seated and unbearable dissatisfaction and insecurity with the status quo. Despite the complexity behind Mr. Trump’s support, our extreme black and white culture, like the old Loony Tunes cartoons, creates simplistic explanations to try to account for the widening chasm that is threatening to derail the American experiment. We’re afraid to see that all involved have legitimate beefs; and that the anger and confusion on both sides are simply two sides of the same coin.

Exiled from our emotional selves, we are suffering from a major compassion deficit. How can we have compassion for those apparently on the other side when we are so uncompassionate with ourselves? Well, in the place of compassion, what really may have won the day for President-Elect Trump is a national American pastime: Ridicule.

Where does this endemic ridicule come from? It is born from a deep insecurity that has been in place since America wrenched independence from Britain. America is still trying to prove itself; a brilliant but immature nation that resorts to constant self-aggrandizement to cover up rot upon which the self-professed greatest country in the world is built.

It is said that Donald Trump decided to run for President after the infamous 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at which President Obama savagely humiliated him before the country’s elite. During the same dinner, comedian, Seth Meyers, also unleashed a full-scale assault on Mr. Trump. All told, it was a public humiliation for the ages. That dinner came on the heels of Donald Trump’s relentless harping on President Obama’s birth certificate. The frame of reference has drastically changed in recent days, but how many of us in the past laughed along with the ridicule, easily able to convince ourselves that Mr. Trump deserved every ounce of what the President dished out?

Before the election, Frontline on PBS had an excellent short video chronicling the events of that fateful night which helped set forces into motion that have somehow led to a Trump Presidency. In the video, Michael D’Antonio, author of the book, The Truth About Trump, says, “Donald dreads humiliation. And he dreads shame. And this is why he often attempts to humiliate and shame other people. So, in the case of the President ridiculing him, I think this was intolerable for Donald Trump.”  The legendary level of Mr. Trump’s crassness perfectly reflects a man who has been deeply humiliated and shamed in his childhood. It has all been about payback ever since; to show the world that he is worthy, in the face of a never-ending barrage of insults that he has endured for decades, first from his father, then from the world. It all came to a head that night, when one of the most respectful men to ever hold the presidency succumbed to the ubiquitous ridicule that is not just tolerated but celebrated in the culture. All in good fun right? Short-term laughs and ego-boost; long-term underestimation and heartache. The truth is, dismissiveness and sarcasm, normalized in our culture, are outgrowths of deep-seated trauma that we are taking out on others instead of healing.

There is a fallacy that one needs to meet the bully head on; toe to toe; take them down a notch. Bully the bully. That will show them. This approach sometimes may appear to work in the short term, but in the long-term that violent impulse within the bully is only affirmed, with predictable collateral damage down the road. Does that mean we stand by and watch the bully wreak havoc? Certainly not. But the intention behind the response to the bully is key. To hope that he gets his just desserts connects us to the very same energies we condemn in the bully.

How many of us have been, and continue to be, on the Trump-bashing bandwagon?  Egging him on; fueling the wounded beast within; confirming for him the unforgiving nature of the world. It is at our own peril if we persist in making fun of, and underestimating, a man who has achieved the remarkable, the unthinkable, especially if we understand the dark place that he is drawing his inspiration from.

 

THE ROAD AHEAD

We, and our ancestors, all created this mess but we just can’t believe that this is our baby.

Humanity is now presented with a stark choice:

(1) Have the courage to look within, to re-ignite the heart flame, and work to heal our own pain and shame; to look beyond the borders of labels like Democrat-Republican, gay-straight, black-white, Christian-Muslim, etc. Seek out the wonderful nuance that lives on the continuum between these limiting, extreme positions. Embark on the ultimate journey to identify, acknowledge and heal the betrayal and trauma within, while inflicting as little of it as possible on the world. For Americans, there’s also an opportunity to address the still-festering and unacknowledged trauma from the three main traumas; or
(2) Continue down the current divisive path by attacking and denigrating President Trump and his supporters, feeding the beast that already presents a solemn threat to the well-being of the nation and the world. Match their ferocity and disdain with our own.

How are we any different from Mr. Trump and some of his supporters if we spew fear and vitriol? This path sews within it the seeds of unfathomable suffering – again – because when we return similar fire, the recipient, the original bully, gets to divert their attention away from their own culpability and shift their blame on to us, thereby justifying their bad behavior. After all, they suppose, in the end everyone’s an asshole just like me, and we confirm that for them.

If we are searching for a glimmer of hope in a sea that has been colored Red, ponder this: Many are afraid of the Republican control of all levels of government. But, maybe things are, as usual, not so cut and dried. After all, President Trump is not a Republican, and never has been. He’s an independent that flew the Republican standard only to achieve power. He has about as much time for Republicans as he does Democrats. He has no allegiance to anyone but himself (remember the one debate when Mr.Trump didn’t hesitate to dismiss and embarrass future VP, Mike Pence, regarding Syria policy). He will put forward his agenda and if the Republican Congress obstructs him, he will use executive orders and/or the bully pulpit to appeal directly to the people, including his millions of rabid supporters, but also including everyone else.

Might he use the bully pulpit to nefarious ends? Possibly. If we keep hating him and his supporters, will we exacerbate an already volatile situation? Most definitely. Might things become ugly? Maybe. If so, we will have to learn another difficult lesson on the collective human journey, the severity of which will depend on our ability to grasp that our reaction, more so than his action, carries the day.

There is an incredible liberation that comes with not taking the bait to denigrate another, especially when they ‘deserve’ it. The alternative is always further separation – and consorting with the very same negative forces we so often condemn in the recipient. Once we cease to take the bait, a challenging journey to be sure for most of us, we have the opportunity to dissolve the historical and personal patterns of trauma that keep us trapped within an interminable tit-for-tat existence.

Let’s see what President Trump will do. His tendencies remind us of some of the worst leaders of human history. However, let us not assume, because we heard some things during the campaign, that he will follow through on the most unsavory aspects of his platform. Let us not bow to the relentless armaggedonization of our culture, which promotes extreme positions, while undermining community. After all, Mr. Trump, and every politician, will spout all kinds of nonsense to get elected. They don’t or can’t follow through on most of it anyway. Conversely, while seemingly preposterous, since the Establishment has made such a crazy hash of running the country, let us be open to the possibility that he may help the situation, just probably not in a linear or obvious way that is familiar and comfortable.

Neal Gabler said, post election: “We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist…  No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.”

The police shootings of this past year, Standing Rock and the election, have revealed what lurks below the dishonesty of that civility, which could no longer be hidden. The faux-civility bubble had to burst. The imperative ‘politesse’ that has now been lost, and that Mr. Gabler presents as having been positive, was in a fact a tool of denial. As we can now plainly see, the very best that could have been hoped for in its shadow was grudging tolerance, emphasis on the grudging. That civility was a lie that has, over generations, contributed to a collective American depression, and to the election of Donald Trump. Of course, the problem lay in the original presumption of the exceptional nature of America, or any group of humans, a position that automatically creates separation with others, and contains within it the potential for perpetual conflict.

It is from this uncomfortable place of being laid bare, distracted from the hollowness of our unfeeling, individualistic and materialistic culture, that we are presented with the opportunity to evolve as a species.

The road ahead is not to make America great again but to make America and humanity great, for the first time. Though it may seem counter-intuitive because we are so bad at loving the badness within ourselves and each other, let’s try sending the President-elect some good vibes. Throw him a bone. He needs it badly. So do we all.

It may have to get worse before it gets better. If so, we can, as individuals, not only do our utmost not to exacerbate the situation, but try to muster as much compassion and non-judgment for ourselves and our perceived enemies as possible, to lead humanity in a more empathetic direction. Despite our rational need for solutions, and quick ones at that, this is, and has always been, about the long game.

The Ghomeshi Case: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

The Ghomeshi Case: An Invitation to Dig Deeper

The Journey From Rational to Empathetic

“The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.” (from ‘The Little Prince’)

The night of the Jian Ghomeshi trial verdict I couldn’t sleep, although I wasn’t as surprised or outraged as many understandably were. As I lay there tossing and turning and remembering tidbits of what Justice William Horkins had said in his One-Hour Verdict, I was struck by my own familiarity with his tone and approach – and by his notable lack of empathy.

Like most, I have been raised as a Rational Man, in my case especially so because I attended a British Boarding School for four years when I was six years old (1976-80). Six weeks ago, soon after my 46th birthday, I participated in a workshop in London, England for Boarding School Survivors, which I can tell you to most Brits is an oxymoronic phrase. Long story short, boarding school was a wretched experience that turned me, and many thousands of others, into emotionally stunted humans. Why? One minute the child is at home (however imperfect), the next minute they are left in a strange and overwhelming place in which emotion has no place. The heart connection is violently compromised. Innocence is lost. Empathy crippled.

Why does this institution exist? Its mission has been, and continues to be, to make MEN. Men who will get down to business. Men who will fulfill their roles to carry on carrying on, no matter what. Men who have been specifically and transparently trained to suppress feelings. After all, feelings are just so… nebulous. A man, and society in general, is much better off if he doesn’t trifle with complex things like instincts, feelings, conscience, etc. Binary is easier. Right and Wrong. The clarity of the logical mind is a superior arbiter in all aspects of life.

So, how does a child cope with leaving the bonded family unit for life in an Institution that operates similarly to the Military and Prison systems? By cultivating what British Psychologist, Nick Duffell calls a Strategic Survival Personality (SSP) – a facade to mask the sudden and profound emotional void – to protect what little remains.

I have been such a man and my SSP has been quite something to experience in my life and to ‘share’ with the world. In my case, I became the angry, rebellious version of a Rational Man – a bully with the proverbial heart of gold that disappeared when under threat. Empathy always a slave to Anger, Justice and ‘Truth’. Others become the funny guy as a means of deflection. Most become some version of a disconnected man.

So how does my boarding school and life experience intersect and overlap with Justice Horkins and Jian Ghomeshi? Back to not being able to sleep. At 3am something occurred to me so I grabbed my phone and searched for Justice Horkins’s background. I wasn’t surprised to find that he attended Upper Canada College (UCC), the leading boy’s preparatory school in the country. UCC was founded in 1829 and modeled on the top private British boarding schools, especially the legendary Eton College. And just like at those schools in England, which eschew the Feminine, UCC has been rife with sexual abuse of children, usually by teachers and staff.

Boys who attend these boarding and private schools live in these hyper-Masculine, unfeeling and unsupportive environments; places that are built upon the foundations of unconscious parental abandonment and betrayal. For the child, your parents, your gods, have deserted you. You won’t get to have any contact with them for 3 weeks – so you can acclimate (ie) succumb. They tell you they are doing you a favour – and they believe it. You, the child, don’t ‘feel’ the largesse but your feelings and thoughts don’t count, especially as they come up against the fact that you are ‘lucky’ to be so privileged. Enter the Strategic Survival Personality to try to make the madness somehow manageable – all the while in constant proximity to the abyss within. The abandonment by the parent is directly correlated to the child’s commensurate abandonment of their feelings. Fear now a constant, if unconscious, companion. Meanwhile, the parents understandably thought they were doing a good thing. Yes, it made sense. But the issue, just like now, was not the thinking, it was the NOT feeling, which resulted in a generational passing down of the same old lack of empathy. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Many of these children grow up to be our corporate and government leaders, with the predictable consequences we see all around us (ie) Institutional Misogyny, Classism and Racism. The SSP is so firmly in place that if you don’t know what to look for you might readily accept that anyone who complains about their boarding school experience is just a big whiner. After all, most will say it was just fine, or even grand. As for the rest of the kids in our societies who are not ‘privileged’ enough to attend these schools, they are led to believe they should aspire to the material wealth and power that the elite enjoy. So, as a population, we court their ways and energies. We connect to them. And it all trickles down into the masses via our Media and Institutions.

After three years of research on the subject, and 26 years of tireless and challenging self-reflection, I’ve identified a strong correlation between The British Private/Boarding School system and what ails Canadian culture, represented here by the Ghomeshi case. Every day I recognize the presence and depth of this connection. In effect, regardless of whether or not we have attended one of these Institutions, Canadian society is built upon the principles and structures of the British system, which itself is underpinned by their educational system. “Cecil Rhodes was one of the classic figures in the inglorious late 19th century carve-up of Africa, a founder of De Beers that still commands immense riches, and a man after whom a whole country (now called Zimbabwe) was named. In 1887, when he was 24 and still at Oxford, a bastion of the Rational Man Project (see below), Rhodes was proud to put it this way: ‘I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.'” (ibid Duffell). (Perfectly, as I was making the final edits I came upon this posting which connects Cecil Rhodes to Attawapiskat)

Our Canadian (ie) British forefathers thought the same way. They decided they were doing the savage Indigenous Peoples a favour by civilizing them – by introducing religion to them. Up until the 1970s they forcibly took their children away from their parents and put them in Residential Schools (the same structure as boarding schools, but with the added ignominy of profound prejudice), unfathomably hellish places run by the Clergy. Nobody who is in touch with their heart, with their feelings and compassion could possibly think this was a good idea. This is what we come from, and what continues to have a hold on us.

The disconnect in our culture allows us to lecture the world on human rights and on the treatment of women and children, while we are not even close as a Country in taking responsibility for the all but unforgivable way in which we have treated the Indigenous People of this wonderful country – let alone the deplorable state of our justice system where the vulnerable are concerned. What is happening in Attawapiskat is far more grave than many believe. It is in fact an accurate reflection of both our relationship with Indigenous People and the state of the consciousness and conscience of Canada. Our lack of empathy and understanding has killed the empathy in some Indigenous people to such a degree that they would rather die – in droves – than continue receiving this rejection. Or worse, is it just indifference? If you look down upon any Indigenous People, including the homeless drunkards, I invite you to dig deeper. Even do some research into humans throughout history who have had a massive thumb pressing down on them for 100, 200, 300 years. As with Blacks in America, you don’t just come out of this utter repudiation in one or two generations.  You can’t just ‘get on with it’. The grooves of pain, shame and humiliation run insanely deep.

THE RATIONAL MAN PROJECT

What is at the root of this disconnect? The Rational Man Project (RMP). The RMP, a term coined by Nick Duffell, involves a brain that is “over-trained in rationality, has turned away from empathy and has mastered and normalized dissociation in its most severe dimensions; it is consequently incapable of recognizing the fault in its own system.” (Nick Duffell, “Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and The Entitlement Illusion”, 2014) “Rational Man was (and still is) permanently at war. He was at war with himself and with the world he created. The self he was at war with was his own indigenous self, the natural, emotional, innocent, spontaneous, sometimes lazy, sometimes erotic self.” (ibid. Duffell) To varying degrees, Western man and woman have exiled this poor self that fills the void with a cornucopia of addictions (Food, Shopping, Illegal Drugs, Sports Teams, Sex, Cell Phone, Legal Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes, Working, Pain, Working out, Coffee, Surfing the Internet, Facebook, Soft Drinks, Porn, Sugar, Television, Video Games).

“The fallout from the British Rational Man Project is alive and well” in Canada. “It causes our society grave problems as: (1) It maintains the inherited class structure with its… male elitism intact (2) It prevents emerging new paradigms” from coming to the fore – “due to fear of foreigners and fear of losing the status quo. (3) We do not notice the Rational Man Project’s grip on us because we are too close to it, like the fish who do not know the water; identified with it, we believe it to be our hallowed tradition.” (ibid. Duffell)

This brings us to Misogyny, a hallmark of all the major religions as well as the vast majority of cultures. Women have been second-class citizens for millennia. With the arrival of the ‘The Age of Reason’ in the 17th century Western world, Spirit was supplanted by Science and Reason. Man now controlled his own destiny. The British created their own particular brand of the Rational Man Project. The British boarding and private school system had two roles: (1) churn out men who would be sent around the world to run the greatest empire the world has ever seen (2) be a ‘home’ for the children of these very same men who were far away from England. This went on for centuries.

Regardless of circumstances, when God was at the centre of most people’s lives there was a direct connection with the unknown, the mysterious, the Feminine. The Rational Man Project kind of ‘civilized’ and sanitized the misogyny (and racism) which had always been there, and then exported it to the colonial world. With succeeding generations of abandoned and betrayed boys running the world, including Canada, Logic became bereft of Feeling.

Duffell on what misogyny looks like today: “Socially and politically, misogyny in its softest normalized form results in an overvaluation of masculinity, an over-respect for the opinions of men high up the hierarchy and the regarding of women as, at best, a necessary diversion… this unconscious misogyny is not just a male… problem; it affects women and, worse: it also takes root inside women… The implications are that there are generations of women growing up not rooted in a positive femininity. As mothers, they raise girls who do not have good femininity mirrored back to them and raise boys who look down on women… British (Canadian, US, Australian) middle-class women, I suggest, have been forced to grow up with and identify with a femininity whose true nature is ignored or despised and disowned. This is an incalculable problem for a society, and one that would horrify much of the Indigenous world, where pride in female wisdom and traditions tends to be a cornerstone of the community.” (ibid Duffell)

The Ghomeshi case is a microcosm of the consequences of the multi-century Rational Man Project, laying bare our latent societal misogyny. But let’s be clear. This piece is more than simply a defense of women. By understanding the role of the RMP, it is a call for both women and men to recognize and embrace the Feminine within. This evolution of our society involves the re-igniting of the Heart Connection; the realization that there is strength in softness; there is power in vulnerability. Accessing more of our heart-centered energy is the key for better living. Institutional Empathy is the next frontier.

LEFT-BRAIN RIGHT-BRAIN

Further to the alienation of the Feminine, Psychiatrist and Oxford Professor, Iain McGilchrist, writes in his book “The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World”, about the respective roles of the Left- and Right-brains and how our culture, having been overrun by the Rational Man Project, has become predominantly Left-brained. Unfortunately, while the Left-brain approach “facilitated the accumulation of knowledge and skills, its downside has resulted in a crisis of Compartmentalization.” Duffell on McGilchrist, “there is a precise order to how the two hemispheres work: thought and language are born… on the Right, then grow up… on the Left, to provide the ‘necessary difference’ for self-reflection.” Crucially, what is sent to the Right then returns back to the Right, “where a new synthesis can be made.” (ibid. Duffell)

The Right-brain is more concerned with the Feminine, visual, non-linear, heart connection, receptivity, softness, sensitivity, creativity, the instinctual, the unexplainable, the conscience, the feelings, emotional IQ, big picture, cooperation and doubt. The Left-Brain is more concerned with the Masculine, verbal, linear, logical, details, organization, structure, labeling, analysis, specialization and hierarchy.

The ‘Return’ is the key to balanced thinking and good choices. Without that the Left-brain creates its own micro-contexts and parses things so finely that it can “eliminate all contradictions and leave us with clear and distinct ideas.” (ibid. Duffell)

So, we men – and women – grow up in a saturated Rational Man Project environment, which is overwhelmingly persuasive in pulling us into the Left-brain. Throw in our own personal traumas on top of that, especially ones from childhood, and we’re left with a population of people who have had to create their own Strategic Survival Personalities (SSP) in order to manage. The issue is that the SSP might have served us well as children but is problematic if we don’t recognize and jettison it as adults. If the protective walls remain in place it makes it challenging to become mature and balanced adults. This is why so many of us become defensive so easily. It’s our SSP kicking into action when we feel a threat. Depending on the level of our trauma our facade is that much more convincing – and impenetrable. The protective Wall that is built can lead to isolation, violence, depression and the epidemic of mental illness in our society.

Hence, we have a society in which many Men, represented here by Jian Ghomeshi, have so little respect for and understanding of Woman – and the Feminine energy within themselves. Many people actually confuse ‘Masculine and Feminine’ with ‘Man and Woman’. In fact, as more people are now understanding, each of us, regardless of gender, are made up of varying levels of the Masculine and Feminine. Where the two work in harmony you have a uniquely balanced human being.

“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know… We know truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.” 17th Century Physicist and Philosopher Blaise Pascal

Periodically, we single out one or another of our Institutions – Media, Corporate, Banking, Legal, Police, Health, Government – for their failings and excesses. In the wake of the Ghomeshi case, some are calling for changes to the Justice System. The reality is that because Institutions operate at the behest of the Rational Man Project, meaningful change is predictably problematic. We have created these Institutions. We work in them. They represent us. We are tacitly, and in most cases unwittingly, complicit in their actions. In short, we and they are not doing any of this on purpose. We have been on automatic pilot for 300 years. At this stage, we are simply the fish in the sea, thinking that this is just the way things are. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just naïve.

THE GHOMESHI CASE

Let’s break down the Ghomeshi case. Firstly, according to rules and practices of our legal system there is near universal acknowledgment from the legal community that the verdict is correct: Not Guilty – however unsatisfying and outrageous that may be for some. But, really, as we will see from the statistics, the probability for a conviction in this type of case is remote at best, even when the Plaintiffs are totally consistent. Some will argue that it can’t be any other way but maybe that is just a position which lacks the creativity and effort required to develop a more suitable system.

The case largely comes down to He Said/She Said, which, as the statistics show, even under the best of circumstances makes it challenging to convict an abuser, especially when He doesn’t have to say anything in court, or be cross-examined. In some cases, the challenge is good because it makes sense that there needs to be compelling evidence to convict. What this Legal System cannot contain is the fact that there were not only three women accusing him in this case but some 20 more who have come forward to corroborate the plaintiffs’ assertions that there was not remotely clear consent. They were all blind-sided by the suddenness and severity of Mr. Ghomeshi’s actions. But all these other women coming forward with incredibly consistent stories are not admissible or relevant to this case. Over 20 women. Not good enough. Why? (1) In part, because many people, including Globe Columnist, Ms. Wente, and especially men, believe that the women must have been at fault, or they are coming forward for personal gain. (2) In part also because of the Compartmentalization of our RMP Institutions that are so good at parsing, yet so terrible at the big picture – at Common Sense.

Common sense tells many of us that Mr. Ghomeshi is guilty – hence the outrage at the decision in some quarters. Common sense tells us that when over 20 women say the same thing there is a clear pattern of abuse (as MP Charlie Angus, who has known Mr. Ghomeshi for 25 years, says, “Nobody close to Jian even pretends he is innocent, and somehow this isn’t an issue — the women are”).

There is much lamentation in our culture regarding the dearth of Common Sense. Common Sense is commonly conflated with Logic, hence why our culture regularly jokes that Woman’s ‘unpredictability’ makes her susceptible to lapses in Common Sense. Yet, taking a wider view of things, it’s easy to see that in fact it is the world of Men, which controls the levers of power in all of our Institutions, which consistently acts with a disconcerting and dangerous lack of Common Sense – while hamstrung by the difficulty in seeing past the unfeeling Logic.  After all, Logic is only one component of Common Sense. Actually, sense only becomes ‘Common’ when the Right-brain gets involved. The absence or dilution of the ‘Return’ to the Right-brain results in the debilitating excesses that are threatening our very survival as a species.

Common Sense might tell us that there is something odd about a man who has assiduously kept ALL electronic and hand-written notes exchanged with every one of these 20 plus women. Why would you keep a hand-written note from someone you barely had a relationship with; didn’t have sex with; didn’t see more than a couple of times – this scenario, with many women. Does this make sense? It’s hard not to conjecture that “Ghomeshi kept files on women in case they would later accuse him of violence.”

Here are excerpts from a Toronto Life article written (before the trial) by long-time friend of Mr. Ghomeshi’s, Leah McLaren: “Being rich and successful wasn’t enough for Jian. He wanted to be adored… What’s startling about the allegations against Jian is not that a seemingly law-abiding person is accused of doing terrible things. That happens all the time. It’s the way Jian wove the most cherished and sacred liberal values of Canadian society into an ingenious disguise that he used to hide in plain sight. He was a wolf in organic, fair-trade lamb’s clothing… Once, just seconds before going on air, he said he liked it when his girlfriend wore a certain baggy wool sweater because he knew it was obscuring the bruises on her breasts… For his part, Jian is confident that no matter how bad the evidence looks, he will ultimately be exonerated. He’s a survivor… His true gift is his innate ability to control the people nearest to him… a master of emotional manipulation both at work and in his personal life… Jian was incredibly thin-skinned, and he used his insecurities as an excuse to be temperamental, petulant, even cruel.”

This behaviour, which some might deem Sociopathic, is textbook Strategic Survival Personality at its finest. The façade is masterful. He’s a Survivor, because that is what has always been required. It’s a dog-eat-dog, Mad Max world. Do it to them before they do it to you. Fear and insecurity rule the roost. Think of the dichotomy of on the one hand wanting to be adored, and on the other hand being so cruel. This is the disconnect of the SSP. And there is ALWAYS a good reason for it. No doubt if we knew the details of his life and childhood we would be more understanding. Despite what some believe I don’t think behaviour like his develops in a vacuum. Mr. Ghomeshi is in pain. While I don’t know the details of his pain, with my experience I have a sense of the quality it – because I recognize his behaviour. It is devastating. You create the SSP to survive when you are young. Most of us don’t know how to release it once we become adults. We don’t even know it’s there – which makes life confusing at best and brutal at its worst. I’m sure it sounds ludicrous to some, especially his victims, but in a sense he’s not doing it on purpose. That’s the crazy part. But then how many of us are unconsciously hurting others – and ourselves? It’s just that our shit doesn’t get televised.

Extreme SSP is existential. I must be RIGHT or I might be found out (see Conrad Black below) or I might die or even take my own life. It’s at that level. That’s why he so meticulously laid the groundwork for his own defense years before he might need it. Cleverness to conceal the rot. Because the only salve to the absence of self-worth and self-love is WINNING. That is the way of the Rational Man Project. He knew he was going to win and to ensure his victory he brought on the ‘Eviscerator’ to provide the coup de gras.

In short, while it is strange to say, actual Common Sense is often not a player in our one-dimensional Legal System.

RMP FEMINISM AND THE GHOMESHI CASE

Many women unconsciously participate in and bolster the Rational Man Project. How else to explain how last year, after upwards of 30 women had already accused Bill Cosby of despicable acts (including a host of women who said he drugged and raped them), and overlapping with the allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi, that Mr. Cosby enjoyed a successful Canadian tour, with women being there in similar numbers to men? What does it mean when so many women attending his shows, a notable number of whom will, according to statistics, have personally experienced some form of sexual abuse, manage to sidestep, avoid, deny the incredibly consistent evidence brought by over THIRTY women? Is this not an indicator of a classic general cultural myopia that is the result of excessive adherence to the Left-brain? Isn’t this a group Female Strategic Survival Personality in order to cope with rampant misogyny and abuse that is simply endemic to our culture, despite the much improved veneer? By the way, as with Mr. Ghomeshi, the fact that Mr. Cosby is still a free man is another indication that if you are a successful Man you have the upper hand, even against 30 plus women, even when you are a Black Man in a country in which Black Lives Clearly Don’t Matter.

And while it may be controversial to say, it’s becoming clear that the answer may not be for women to succeed within the RMP, because you can only do so by giving yourself over to it, by embracing the myopic nature of it, the harshness of it, the abject patriarchy of it.

This case has only confirmed what a maestro Defense Attorney Marie Henein is. Within legal circles, there is unanimous praise for the expert way in which she managed to discredit the witnesses and create enough doubt that she got her man acquitted. In his memoir, former client Michael Bryant describes how Ms. Henein seemed to “channel Hannibal Lecter” with her ability to “find a person’s deepest frailties and exploit them.” How wonderful to be compared to a character who is the epitome of the Rational Man Project at its most brutal. That Mr. Bryant would find the ‘positive’ in the most vicious serial killer the silver screen has ever seen, and then ascribe that to Ms. Henein, is instructive and revealing. My guess is that Mr. Bryant’s observation would elicit chuckles from many people – and that most lawyers would take it as a compliment. Were you amused at the comparison?

Here are some excerpts from Globe Columnist Margaret Wente’s Globe and Mail article on Marie Henein’s masterful defense of Jian Ghomeshi: “[Ms. Henein] began to eviscerate the witness – slowly, methodically… In the macho, high-stakes world of criminal-defense law, she is a standout. Nobody works harder. Nobody is more driven… Here’s  what people talk about when they talk about Ms. Henein: Her look is strict, steely, a bit transgressive… the image conveys a potent message: Don’t mess with me After she is described as being ‘supersoft, sensitive” by a friend the same friend says, She can trash-talk anyone – she can – out-trash even the biggest trash talkers… It was her mother who drilled into Marie the precepts of feminism. She was determined that her daughter escape the misogynist oppression the family had left behind” (having emigrated from Egypt when Henein was young)… She prefers to get the job done with… surgical efficiency… When you rise to her level, you’re not just representing a client. You’re representing the system itself.

There appears to be nothing short of glee in Ms. Wente’s support of Ms. Henein’s take-down of the Plaintiffs. Notice the language employed by Ms. Wente in describing what she admires in Ms. Henein: her drive, her surgical efficiency, her powers of evisceration (reminiscent of Mr. Bryant’s description), her methodical approach, her prey cowering before her, her top-drawer trash-talking. But it’s the final sentence that really tells the story. Ms. Henein represents the system. If, as I and increasingly more people contend, the system is inherently and unconsciously stacked against women and the Feminine energy in all of us, then what is the take-away? What does this say about Ms. Wente and Ms. Henein’s idea of Feminism? Wouldn’t true Feminism take a more holistic approach, incorporating more nuance and understanding into the situation? Might not true Feminism be a little less ruthless? Wouldn’t true Feminism eschew the kind of terminology that is the domain of professional sport or war? Maybe, but the problem is there is no space for that within the Rational Man Project.

Of course, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Ms. Wente says in another article, “The message for genuine sexual assault victims should be very reassuring. The message is that if you come forward, the police and the courts will treat you with great respect… If you’re honest and forthright you’ll get a fair shake in court.” Further along she says, “The complainants may have had another motive for concealing the truth. They had become media celebrities. And they had a mission to bring Mr. Ghomeshi down. In one of the thousands of e-mails Ms. DeCoutere exchanged with S.D, she said she wanted to see him “fucking decimated.”

Firstly, with regard to the Police and Legal Systems protecting and defending women, the experience of countless women, as the statistics show (see below), is rather different than the fictional landscape espoused by Ms. Wente. Consider this brave woman who has come forward to tell her experience dealing with the Police and Legal Systems – which many abused women can surely attest to. Secondly, we witness the canard that women come forward for personal gain. Especially coming from a woman, the level of disconnect here is disheartening, though not surprising. Thirdly, I don’t know about you but if I were a woman who had been abused by a man, and then I found out that I wasn’t the only one and that he continues to get away with it I could certainly understand her desire to see him “fucking decimated”. Alas, Lucy didn’t realize that she would somehow be transformed from the Victim into the Perpetrator – into the Liar. And yet, who among us, man or woman, doesn’t consciously and unconsciously revise our memories when the truth of our actions is too shameful and painful to bear?

Again, from her March 26 Globe piece, Ms. Wente writes, “The evening of the cross-examination [of Ms. DeCoutere], Ms. Henein took her team out for drinks to celebrate. They were giddy with success. They called up a few close friends to crow.” In the online version this section was removed, with a retraction appearing at the bottom saying that there was actually no celebration or giddiness or crowing. Apparently, they just went out for ‘quiet’ drinks.

So, did Ms. Wente just make that up? Because ‘quiet’ drinks is entirely different than the High-Fiving one might imagine went down based on the original piece. Indeed, Ms. Wente was likely just too forthright with this information. She should have held that back, though it’s easy to see how inspired she was by her piece. Maybe she got careless, which wouldn’t be the first time, and just before the final edit of this piece, certainly not the last time (Ms. Wente viciously cuts down the credibility of the Plaintiffs, while her own credibility as a journalist regularly comes into question. Classic RMP Projection and Deflection – see Conrad Black below). After all, the kind of emotion she describes in the aforementioned excerpt is a little unseemly and inappropriate – certainly nothing we will likely ever see from Ms. Henein in front of the general public. Maybe Ms. Wente got a bit emotional, a little ‘crazy’ perhaps, and revealed too much. Yes, let’s pull that back.

Women are regularly ridiculed for their apparent lack of consistency, for their moodiness (which is unacceptable and irritating). How many times in our lives and media do we experience women being called ‘Crazy’? It’s okay for a man to be angry but if a woman is emotional then she’s being crazy. She needs to ‘get it together’. It’s irrelevant that she might be being ‘crazy’ because her man or the system around her constantly shows her that she’s not enough – that her feelings are objectionable. She should suck it up in true British-inspired fashion. Stiff upper lip. Moving right along. Nothing to see here.

Surely, it can’t be that Woman, and the Feminine energy, and the Right-brain simply works differently than the logical Left-brain. If you are incredulous as to how on earth a woman could be on the receiving end of what Mr. Ghomeshi or any other abuser has dished out and go back for more – if you can’t get your head around that – it might be an indication that your access to your Right-brain – and your heart – is compromised. Because the reality is that extensive research has shown that women often react in the same ways to abuse and danger – Freeze, Appease, Mend, Tend, Befriend. Is this logical? Certainly not. But logic is irrelevant in this and many other circumstances, which is problematic for a society and a court system that values linear objectivity above all. Of course, real life doesn’t fit into properly labeled boxes. It is complex – and so are feelings. What a horrible feeling it must be for women who end up ‘tending and befriending’ their abusers, with the inevitable shame and confusion that this engenders after the fact.

In Canada there are 460,000 sexual assaults per year. Out of every 1000 sexual assaults, only 33 are reported to the police, 12 have charges laid, 6 are prosecuted, 3 lead to convictions, 997 ASSAILANTS WALK FREE (Johnson, “Limits of a Criminal Justice Response: Trends in Police and Court Processing of Sexual Assaults” in Sheehy, Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practices and Women’s Activism, 2012). Does this strike anyone as a beneficial environment for an abused woman to come forward, let alone with some kind of ulterior motive other than justice – when the evidence is overwhelming that the accused will likely end up being treated as the victim? Does adding insult to injury get any more blatant than this? Is it any wonder it has taken so long for us to address the missing and murdered First Nations women? (Women being second-class is one thing. If you’re a minority woman, African-American or Indigenous, you are truly on the lowest rung of the ladder)

Is this to suggest that there are not some instances when women falsely accuse men of abuse? Of course that happens but based on the aforementioned figures surely this is rare when compared to legitimate abuse.

Taking Ms. Wente’s original piece at face value we can see our court system for what it is, a zero-sum game. It’s actually less about truth and justice and more about winning – at all cost. Very RMP. I hope that while Ms. Henein and her group were celebrating her masterful ‘evisceration’ of Ms. DeCoutere they took a moment to sympathize with Mr. Ghomeshi’s many victims, in their case and otherwise. I wonder if they raised a somber glass to the hundreds of thousands of Canadian women who suffer abuse every year. Naysayers might suggest that Ms. Henein et al are not required to have any sympathy in this case since Mr. Ghomeshi was found ‘innocent’. Not innocent of doing the terrible things he has been accused of, which he has admitted to, but innocent of wrong-doing because he had given fair warning of what was to come. Consent is the heart of the matter here and despite being eviscerated on the stand all three Plaintiffs were consistent in their assertions that there was no consent.

Ms. Henein and Ms. Wente are cut from the same cloth as other women who have succeeded within the RMP; women like Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Eva Peron and Madeleine Albright (who famously said in 1996 that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was worth the overthrow of Saddam Hussein). Ms. Albright, who in 2012 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her service, also recently said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not vote for Hillary Clinton.” Really? Women should vote for Hillary simply because she’s a woman? This black and white approach is a hallmark of the Rational Man Project. This article tells us something about Hillary Clinton that we don’t get from mainstream RMP coverage. She may be a ‘Feminist’ but it’s debatable whether this brand of Feminism is in the best interests of women or humanity at large. Because what is rewarded within the RMP is efficiency, ruthlessness, singular focus and lack of emotion. If you’re going to be a successful woman in a man’s world you’ll take no prisoners, you’ll go for the jugular without hesitation. One female writer, staunchly defending Ms. Henein’s brand of Feminism says, “Henein has yet to allow her personal feelings to get in the way of her job or her clients. Arguably, it’s her greatest weapon… Her ability to separate emotion from career, as well as her relentless faith in the judicial system” Yes, God forbid any feelings should enter the ‘equation’. Check out the Comments at the end of the article to see how many women understandably defend Ms. Henein’s skill but who I contend might be missing the bigger picture. One relieved gentleman notes, “Finally, a rational Feminist voice. I was starting to think that they were an endangered species.” Surely, the only useful Feminist is a ‘rational’ one, which ‘makes sense’ in the society we live in. The hyper-rational Feminist resolves millennia of Women’s subjugation by inadvertently becoming a subjugator. The Victim becomes the Perpetrator.

Obviously, women have worked tirelessly to infiltrate and occupy this patriarchal hierarchy – to ‘break the glass ceiling’. I hold no illusions as to the arduous journey that has been travelled by incredible women like Marie Henein, Margaret Wente and Gloria Steinem to obtain rights and success for women. However, maybe it’s time to take stock and see that Feminism has inevitably become corrupted by the influence of the RMP. Yes, many women are now reaching the hallowed halls of patriarchal power. If the goal was to simply arrive and participate then kudos. If the goal was for powerful women to arrive and do something differently than men it’s abundantly clear that this has not come to pass.

Ms. Henein and Ms. Wente are both formidable people to have risen to the very top in their respective fields. I can only imagine how challenging that was at times, or a lot of time, when they were making their way up the ranks in a man’s world. These two obviously skillful women, and the multitude of other successful women from history, from Joan of Arc to Elizabeth I to Jane Austen to Susan B. Anthony to Marie Curie to the Suffragettes to Rosa Parks to Germaine Greer have set the stage for the arrival of 21st century woman. Women are still getting shafted with lower pay but they have arrived.

Unfortunately, the arrival within the classic RMP Institutions necessarily involves sacrificing important aspects of the Feminine – which are not welcome or understood. This sacrifice is a heavy burden which can only have one outcome – reduced empathy. It has nothing to do with the ability and intelligence of the women. The reality is that you can only succeed as a woman within these Institutions if you play by the rules – otherwise, you’ll be weeded out, whether you are a man or a woman. So, while on the one hand respect should be shown to the Ms. Heneins and Ms. Wentes of the world for having run, survived and flourished within the RMP gauntlet, we are left a sour taste in our mouths since their arrival and participation is not helping women or our society as a whole.

Fortunately, the ‘Arrival’ is now setting the stage for a ‘Veering’ in a more balanced direction, led by the new breed of young Feminists, like Ellen Page, Emma Watson and Malala Yousafzai. As Feminism evolves it has the opportunity to see that the answer does not lie in colluding with the RMP, but instead in charting a new course; one that is more holistic; one that doesn’t end up abandoning those aspects of the Feminine that are considered weak by many men (and some women), where in fact they are essential fonts of great wisdom and power. Indeed, human salvation may lie in these sacrificed aspects of the Feminine.

JUSTICE HORKINS AND THE LIMITS OF THE CURRENT LEGAL SYSTEM

“Reason is a material capacity, while the soul or spirit lives on the thoughts which are whispered by the heart. Thought is born in the soul. Reason is a tool, a machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire. When human reason … penetrates into the domain of knowledge, it works independently of the feeling, and consequently of the heart.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As with Ms. Henein, Justice Horkins has also received acclaim from within the legal system for his record, his fairness and his handling of the Ghomeshi case. Technically speaking, it appears he has done an exemplary job. Of course, if you were interested in a little more than the bottom line, Justice Horkins’ verdict might have left you a little wanting. Why? Because even after the case many people, some grudgingly, admitted that Mr. Ghomeshi probably did what he did, especially considering that 20 plus women have come forward to give their accounts of his abusive behaviour. Of course, while ‘probably’ is not sufficient in a court of law, that arena is not the only arbiter of opinion and truth.

What has taken some people by surprise is that despite repeated indications of Mr. Ghomeshi’s disgusting behaviour towards women, in his decision Justice Horkins went out of his way to lambaste the Victims while not saying a damn thing to Mr. Ghomeshi. Yes, there were inconsistencies in the women’s stories. Yet, shouldn’t a judge with Mr. Horkins’ experience know about the mitigating factors involved in the abuse of women? The unreliability of memory under the best of circumstances, let alone when you’ve been blind-sided by a punch to the head? The predictable unpredictability of a Victim’s behaviour after the fact? No doubt, had Mr. Ghomeshi been obliged to take the stand there would have been uniform consistency between his original statements and those given under oath – under heavy cross-examination.

In a parallel universe, this was an opportunity for Justice Horkins to acquit Mr. Ghomeshi (based on the limited left-brain patriarchal legal system within which he is being tried) but where the judge let Mr. Ghomeshi know that while he is technically being found not guilty he might want to do some serious soul-searching and get help because he seems to have a skewed understanding of how respectful and healthy humans interact. This would have been a minor but important salve for women everywhere who have suffered abuse.

Alas, this kind of rounded verdict would require the judge to “feel” what is before him, which he does not have a history of. On the contrary, Justice Hoskins’ lack of empathy made him instead castigate the Victims, who had already been betrayed by Mr. Ghomeshi. After putting themselves through sheer hell by subjecting themselves to our Legal System they not only lost but were shamed further? Does insult to injury get any more blatant? Only can a system that is emotionally stunted produce a decision this tone-deaf.

Sadly, this tone-deafness is par for the course in our culture. Ask many men, including and especially those at the higher echelons of corporations and government, how they ‘feel’ about something and invariably they will begin their response with ‘I think…‘. You’ve asked how they ‘feel’ about something but they are responding by telling you what they ‘think’ – and all of this is unconscious. Then if you press them they might shrug awkwardly, maybe laugh, as they find it difficult to identify their feelings beyond ‘fine’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Or they’ll simply say they don’t know, which doesn’t really bother them because so many men are so divorced from their feelings (other than anger) that they don’t even know there’s something amiss.

If we can’t ‘feel’ what’s happening, within and without, we as individuals, cities and countries are vulnerable to acting in ways that we might otherwise not. The more a person’s being is centered in the Left-brain (a) the further they are from being a compassionate and empathetic being (b) the more anger, frustration, fear, resignation, impatience, numbness the person experiences – with predictable consequences such as ill-health, alienation, depression and addiction.

With technology, this abandonment of vulnerability and empathy is being taken to stratospheric levels. Our boys and young men (and even men in their 20s and 30s) are overdosing on a diet of Pornography and violent/demeaning Video Games. The consequences of these boys, and increasingly girls, growing up and becoming our leaders should be a cause for great concern. You might have read that Porn and Video Games do not negatively affect young men – indeed there are studies which reveal that Video Games have ‘benefits’. Yes, I’m sure that’s the case when looked at from a compartmentalized perspective. Conversely, empathy allows us to see, without studies, the bigger picture; the imminent danger; the profound Shame.

Maybe we will look back with hindsight and be grateful that Justice Horkins went ‘All In’ with his decision. Something has been awoken in earnest. Many women throughout Canada are shaking their heads and thinking, “Are you kidding me?” Every day, more and more men are becoming conscious as well. A fire was lit by this case from the moment it came to the fore. Now that fire has been stoked into a bonfire.

RMP INTRANSIGENCE

Conrad Black, a Doyen of the RMP and, like Justice Horkins, a former UCC Alum, recently wrote a piece about the Ghomeshi case – in support of the verdict, needless to say. Please read it with the knowledge that Mr. Black was expelled from UCC for selling stolen exam papers, after which he attended Trinity College School where within a year he was again expelled, this time for insubordinate behaviour.

How does his piece make you feel? What is the tone? To me, it’s familiar. I know it well. I feel like if he were reading it out loud there would be tiny bits of spittle flying everywhere, incredulity dripping from his tongue. Latent rage seeping through. The injustices so full of injustice that it justifies MY Dismissiveness, my Arrogance, my Condescension, my Aggression – all warranted because I am RIGHT. Exaggeration and bombast the order of the day. Everything existential.

Meanwhile, Mr. Black likely doesn’t realize that this thinly veiled exercise in his own perpetual self-defense of his pathologically criminal actions, for which he was convicted and imprisoned, actually reveals the wounded little boy within him. Still fighting for acknowledgment and value, despite the abandonment of long ago confirming for the little boy that there was something wrong with him – and me. That is why he was sent away. Self-worth and Self-esteem obliterated (really, it’s like that until the SSP swoops in).

The method of defense is merciless attack, with the ultimate civilized weapon of choice – penetrating intellect. Like Mr. Black, and many men, there is no backing down in me when I’m at my worst. I will talk – and shout – rings around you – defending myself. Afterwards, until quite recently, I’d easily focus my blame on other – deflecting from my own ignorance, pain, shame, humiliation and guilt.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Fortunately, the arrival of my daughter almost 9 years ago opened a door. Finding out about the Rational Man Project almost three years ago blew the door off its hinges. Though that thing in me will always remain, very gradually (in my case, anyway) it’s being whittled away. I do my best every day; still fail regularly. It’s hard work. Extreme RMP runs deep!

Mr. Black and I, and many thousands of others, are extreme outgrowths of the Rational Man Project. Mr. Ghomeshi and most men and women, whether aggressive, passive-aggressive or aloof are inadvertent servants of the Rational Man Project – hanging out somewhere on the continuum of unconsciousness and alienation.

THE WAY FORWARD

Some I’ve spoken with have asked me what the alternative is. The answer is inconvenient for those steeped in the ways of RMP ‘solutions’: We don’t know yet because we think the RMP maze we are lost in is all there is. The RMP is like a virus. The ‘antidote’? The re-integration of the Feminine, of the Right-brain. This will not be easy but as we move in that direction we will come up with creative solutions that at this point are simply not available – that have yet to be conjured. As Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

Canada is a special place with huge potential. I say what I say because I love this country. Toronto is much maligned but living in this city, the most diverse city on the planet, with people living in general harmony, is quite incredible when we look around the world. Among other things I’m a wedding and a school photographer. I love the fact that I get to photograph children and adults engaging with life in so many different ways – so many different souls making their way together. Yet, there is an opportunity for further evolution. That’s what the Ghomeshi case is offering us. To look beyond the veneer. To look beyond mere band-aid solutions that do nothing to address the fundamental issues. Globally, with our baggage, we are not at the cutting edge of progressive living – yet. But we can be if we begin to genuinely engage with something that is anathema to the Rational Man Project – Self-Reflection.

The path ahead might be arduous but it will be so healing for our Canada – and will propel us forward in a bold way. To be sure, despite the hold of the RMP, every day more people are finding their voices and making themselves heard, putting increasing pressure on the anachronistic RMP way of life. Evolution is well underway. Things like: Gay rights, Paternity Leave, the Environmental Movement, high level leaks (Snowden, Panama Papers), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), among many other things, are laying the groundwork for a more balanced framework. Just because there has been a particular approach for a long time doesn’t mean that alternative ways of being are not realistic and available.

And while we are on our way, Men, in general, are too entrenched within the RMP to spearhead the coming shift. Conscious Western Woman is best positioned to affect this change, to lead us towards a new paradigm – with conscious men in tow. Let’s be angry at the Ghomeshi verdict and the system that does such a terrible job of safeguarding what is most precious – our hearts. Let us grieve for the centuries of injustice. But let’s not focus our blame on Jian Ghomeshi, Justice Horkins, Mary Henein or Margaret Wente or anyone else. They are merely representatives of our narrow-minded and dysfunctional system. They are mirrors for us to gaze into and recognize ourselves. Forgive them for they know not what they do – what we do.

If we’re going to be fierce let’s be fiercely compassionate and non-judgmental. That is the only way through this. Not by fighting against (Left-brain), but by coming together (Right-brain). Every day there are more women and men jumping on this evolutionary bandwagon. This is the cutting edge. New ground is being broken. The shift does not require large numbers, just effective numbers. As always, there will be many naysayers. And that’s okay. Let’s remain kindhearted yet determined. Let us welcome the ‘Return’ to the Right-brain. Let us accept the open invitation to the embrace the feelings that will inform and guide our next steps as a species.

We are emerging…

emerge

By: Bard Azima

Photographer, Film-maker, Writer & Boarding School Survivor