While this is about the United States right now, especially as the US nears its election day …
it is also, at the same time, about every country, every person in our world.
Many in the public sphere are and have been appealing to the “better angels of our nature.”* They’ve also been encouraging us to appeal to our own better angels.
To me, it seems that our better angels are urging people not to act out on the destructive impulses that are being enacted and re-enacted in our country and our world in these times.
There are destructive impulses within every one of us.
Some know about them. Some don’t. Some don’t want to know about them.
They bury them deep within.
Some don’t want to consider them destructive, but rather want to justify them.
Some don’t want it to be known that they have these destructive currents.
They create “nice” and “civilized” masks to hide the destructiveness from themselves and others.
This is at the heart of our looking at our better angels and our worse angels.
There are those of us who act upon our better angels’ nature.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t also have our own worse angels.
Often we keep them a secret, even from ourselves.
In recent years, more than for a long time before, and more publicly, too, leadership has given permission to the rest of us to act out the destructive angels part of us. It has given permission outright through its words and its actions. It has normalized this behavior, made it seem ok, and fed it from its own worse angels.
And many people have taken that permission . . . and have taken the free pass it offered them to act destructively and not take responsibility for it. And so the hidden worse angels have been invited, encouraged, and helped out of hiding … out into our current world. This hurts everyone.
It also hurts everyone that there is no public discussion at all that I’ve heard …
teaching people that we can and need to do much more than
standing back helpless in the face of the worse angels;
putting our masks back on to hide our worse angels;
burying our worse angels again to keep them under control;
getting others to bury their worse angels again to keep them and their destructiveness under control.
To my knowledge, there has been no public teaching that it is possible to heal and transform our worse angels.
Our worse angels come from the ancient trauma we have experienced.
They are our response to that trauma.
They are our defenses against the pain of that trauma.
They are our coping mechanisms to try to live with the consequences of that trauma.
I am not making them ok. I still hold our worse angels accountable.
I still hold us accountable for our worse angels.
I’m just saying that at the root of our beings,
our worse angels arise from our early trauma.
This doesn’t mean despondence and despair.
This means hope.
This is the hope . . .
We can heal our worse angels . . .
We can heal them to the root by healing from our own trauma.
By actually doing the deep inner healing therapy.
This is empowering.
This is hopeful.
It is possible to create healing and transformation.
We don’t have to keep holding our worse angels at bay.
We don’t have to keep acting them out.
There is real healing that can be done …
I do this with the people with whom I work every day.
I know from my own experience that this real healing can be done.
The election is Tuesday.
Whatever the outcome …
we absolutely need to ask “Now What?”
Because . . .
Whatever the election brings,
we absolutely need to heal our worse angels to their roots —
the roots that are in the ground of our traumas from long, long ago.
Not healing them is what got us here today.
Healing them is what will help us de-escalate the destructiveness and trauma
and at long last heal the trauma that created them.
© Judith Barr, 2020.
*The phrase “better angels of our nature” came from Abraham Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural Address.