Are we truly no better than what we are witnessing in the world? The violence. The racism. The hate. Fortunately, and significantly, there is an opposing and over-arching force that is rapidly coming into play. Its primary delivery system is the Internet. More of us are choosing to engage with content that connects us with our hearts and with humanity; that makes us laugh; that inspires us; that yearns for community instead of conflict. The inevitability of our ultra-rational approach, that assumes and indulges the worst in us, is running up against this heart-centered force that has hitherto been largely unexplored by humans.
There is an inverse correlation between further status quo extremity and increased emotional sensitivity. There is a nexus point in there somewhere and we are working our way towards it, notwithstanding the ridicule by status quo stalwarts, whose resistance is understandable from their fear-based perspective. If this shift is to occur, compassion and non-judgment are key, especially when engaging with the most unconscious proponents of our dog-eat-dog existence. Indeed, seemingly paradoxically, instead of our derision, they require the most empathy we can muster. The alternative is to swim in their murky waters, and risk losing ourselves to the very same energies we seek to transform.
My nine year old daughter recently attended a two-week film-making camp (made up of an equal number of boys and girls). On the final day, an hour’s worth of their short films (a total of about 20 films) were screened for us parents. The vast majority of the films contained violence, including fighting, murder, horror and even suicide. I kept waiting for just one of the films (made by 8-12 year olds) to explore love or friendship, to tap into the innocence of childhood. Nope. For me, it provided yet another transition point as I sat there and witnessed many of the parents laughing along with what we were watching. When the show ended I was in a daze as I walked out listening to the parents congratulating their children. Despite all the media violence I am so intimately familiar with, I was suddenly and strangely disturbed by watching these children representing, in a twistedly cute fashion, what is dominating their imaginations and our cultural landscape. That these children came up with their ideas, and developed them, under the guidance of their 20 year old university student minders reveals much about where things are at. Isn’t this troubling?
When will we find the impetus to create a different experience? Interestingly, humanity has had minimal opportunity to embrace an alternative approach since the global take-over by organized religion, which was created exclusively by men. From there we entered the Age of Reason, again the exclusive purview of men; moving from Religious Patriarchy to Rational Patriarchy; the passion and energy associated with religion was supplanted with the cool, detached clarity of the rational, which has had a long run. Certainly, much has been achieved , especially technologically. Unfortunately, the lack of balance between the masculine and feminine energies has extracted a heavy toll, our ability to feel ourselves and connect with others, which has resulted in extreme mistreatment of each other and the planet.
We haven’t given ourselves the opportunity of seeing what might happen as we re-integrate the feminine back into the game. This is the opportunity at hand.
So, what happens when, especially in the age of information, the masses are increasingly realizing that the futility of their economic positions are coming up against grotesque levels of wealth for the elite? Logically, these two positions seem patently at odds with each other. Paradoxically, they are not. Both positions are outgrowths of the very same centuries old Rational Man Project (RMP), which has much of the world by the throat. Few, whether rich or poor, are immune from its clutches, but scarcely anyone realizes the hold it has over them, personally and globally. So, what is the RMP?
The Rational Man Project, a term coined by British Psychologist, 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… 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.” (Nick Duffell, “Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and The Entitlement Illusion”, 2014)
To varying degrees, Western men and women have exiled this poor self, leaving it to fill the void with a fusion of addictions (food, shopping, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, sports teams, sex, news, cell phone, alcohol, cigarettes, dieting, working, pain, working out, coffee, surfing the internet and social media, pornography, sugar, television, video games).
“The fallout from the British Rational Man Project is alive and well” in Britain and the colonial world. “It causes our society grave problems as: It maintains the inherited class structure with its… male elitism intact; It prevents emerging new paradigms” from coming to the fore – “due to fear of foreigners and fear of losing the status quo; and 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.” (Duffell, 2014)
Like many of us in the Western world, especially men in the Anglo world, I have absorbed a staggering amount of media content in my life. I am a sports fan, I love movies, including super-hero films, and unfortunately my mobile phone is practically attached to my hand. Until pretty recently, I have been able to experience a wide range of media violence with barely any notable reaction, other than maybe becoming adrenalized.
As I’ve allowed feeling back into me, I’m noticing for the first time in my life how I am actually being affected by media violence (news, television, film and video games). I am no longer as comfortably numb as I’ve been. Our systemic emotional numbing – a by-product of our ultra-masculine culture – provides us and our children protection from actually feeling and comprehending the perpetual damage we are inflicting on ourselves. Unfortunately, there is a heavy price to pay for this protection, including a compromised ability for empathy, love and connection.
I am now much more aware of what I take in media-wise. A friend, who has experienced massive trauma in his life, said to me recently that he is being more discriminating in what he allows in. He used the word ‘curate’, which I thought was a wonderful description of what we can do to simultaneously reduce the violence we ingest while inviting in media material that connects us with the deep feminine within – with the peace that we intellectually crave but are emotionally unfamiliar with.
Of course, this shift is a process. As always, it’s about the long game.