Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely . . . But Is It Really the Power That Corrupts?

The well-known statement “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is attributed to Lord Acton, an English Catholic politician, writer, and historian in the1800’s. This statement has been made again and again over time since then. The media of our century uses it quite frequently . . . especially nowadays. And many believe it. But actually, there’s much more under the surface we need to take into account.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a blanket statement that doesn’t give responsibility to anyone for misusing and abusing power. It is a statement that doesn’t hold anyone accountable for misusing and abusing power. It makes the power itself responsible and accountable. Not the person. No wonder we’re in the fix we’re in.

It is not power itself that corrupts. It is the people who use the power that corrupt . . . by misusing and abusing the power they have.

Whether they are the president of a country, the CEO of a business, the religious or spiritual leader in a house of worship, the teacher in a classroom, the doctor in a hospital, the parent in a family, the driver behind the wheel in a car on a road . . . people utilize their power – both consciously and unconsciously – in relation to how power was used with them when they were tiny, vulnerable children. How power was used with them often even before they had words to think about or talk about it with. How power was used perhaps so painfully, perhaps so brutally, that they buried the memory of it and the feeling of it, and then start acting it out when they become adults, if not sooner. They act it out without realizing they are perpetuating the abuse of power that they experienced, whether they remember it or not.

One example on the more subtle side might be Cindy’s experience as a child. Her parents, older siblings, and extended family members all ridiculed and humiliated her with their words, meaning, and intention, while using the guise of a loving tone to hide their abuse. Again, under the guise of fake lovingness, they would tell her things like:

“Your crying is the worst sound I’ve ever heard. Shut your mouth.”

“You’re a bad girl for keeping mommy and daddy awake all night.”

“You’re a little monster. You’d eat everything in sight if you could.”

“What an ugly little girl you are. Why can’t you have blond hair and blue eyes like me?”

All of the family members, without realizing it, did to Cindy what was done to them as children.

Or another example . . . Jimmy was a scared little baby. The doctor could see that every time she picked him up, put him down on the examining table, talked to him, touched him. But the doctor couldn’t understand why Jimmy was so scared. His parents, Jim Sr. and Molly, seemed so loving when they were in the office.

But what the doctor couldn’t see was this: At home, Jim Sr. was yelling at Jimmy every time he started crying. The father was yelling and handling Jimmy roughly. Jimmy couldn’t stop crying, and his father’s response to him made him cry all the more. In reaction to the increased volume, intensity and fear in his crying, Jim Sr. would leave the room, slam the door behind him, and start yelling at Molly: “Get your son to shut up!”

Jimmy was just a baby. He didn’t know what was happening. He was completely unable to understand that his father was triggered by his little baby crying. That Jim Sr. had had his own frightening experiences in his infancy, experiences that had been deeply buried and he didn’t even know were there. That his father’s father had been triggered by Jim Sr.’s little baby’s crying and had treated him just like Jimmy’s father was treating Jimmy. And what’s more . . . Jim Sr.’s father didn’t know what was happening either. He was completely unaware that his yelling, roughness, and slamming doors were his own efforts to defend himself from his own early memories and feelings.

In addition, the doctor couldn’t see that a similar thing was occurring with Jimmy’s mother. And Molly couldn’t see it either. Nor could baby Jimmy.  Molly was triggered by Jimmy’s crying and by Jim Sr.’s response.  Molly herself as a baby had cried and cried in fear because of her own father’s violent responses to her crying. And because her mother had shrunk in fear in response to the violent behavior of her husband.  All of this was buried in Molly, even beneath her awareness.

But here they all were . . . baby Jimmy suffering from his parents’ acting out of what they had experienced as babies, without their remembering it, without their having any connection to the feelings they had at that young age. Yet inflicting all of their own wounding on their baby.

This is an explicit picture of people misusing and abusing their power…without even realizing it. It is also an explicit picture of impacting someone else – the next generation – in such a way that they will do the same. It occurs all the time in our world . . . all over our world . . . passed down from one generation to the next. Our relationship with power is passed down the generational line sometimes consciously, but mostly unconsciously.

Sometimes it gets normalized. Like in Joe Sr.’s and Molly’s families. Sometimes it gets confronted, but the power of the family gets misused and abused once again, and instead of allowing the confrontation to create an opening for healing, the group turns against the person confronting . . . just like the parents turned against the baby. At times the person, perhaps like Joe Sr., is asked to become aware and accountable. He will take in his impact on someone else, maybe even say ‘I’m sorry,’ and then go on about his way – without any intention to find out what was triggered in him that caused him to abuse his power with violence – only to continue to abuse his power again and again.  He doesn’t realize it, but he is too afraid to explore the cause in him. He is too afraid to remember how he was treated as a baby. He is too afraid to feel once again what he felt as a helpless, frightened baby at the hands of his violent father and his fearful, shrinking mother – both forms of misuse of power.

This is why people continue to misuse and abuse their power. They are afraid of remembering what they have repressed deep within … the memory, the experience, the feelings from long, long ago when they were helpless. They are afraid to experience how power was used with them and what they learned, decided, and created in their own relationship with power. This fear, if not met and healed, will perpetuate the abuse of power in our world. And it will perpetuate people’s not taking responsibility for their misuse and abuse of power, and instead putting it on other people and things. On people – their children, their partners, their friends, and more. On things – on that toy a parent trips over, the milk the baby has an allergy to, even on power itself. As though it is power itself that corrupts . . . not the person’s own relationship with power.

The reason it appears to people that absolute power corrupts absolutely is that having power triggers and brings up for people a whole host of their wounds. Perhaps most of their wounds. Perhaps even all of their wounds. As you saw in the examples above, most of the time  this occurs unconsciously. Too many times people are triggered, but one way or another normalize their state of mind, heart, and behavior. Because having power, and especially absolute power, brings up our wounds … it makes parenting a prime arena for our wounding and our defenses against that wounding to be evoked. After all, parenting is the situation in which absolute power occurs most naturally … so of course, it would be the most likely place for the most triggering and the most potential for abuse. This can explain why we don’t consciously give people absolute power. No one is completely aware. No one can be completely aware. And up till now, few have been completely committed to continuously looking for and finding the places they have wounds in their relationship with power … and healing them to the root.

What happens in the individual gets carried into the family. What happens in the family gets carried out into the world . . . into every arena including the government.  If you look at the recent events in the US Congress, you see a painful example. Even the people in the media were saying things like: “Where are the grownups?” and “Why can’t they act like adults?” and “They’re acting like little children.”

My response: Yes, you’re right. They’re acting like little children because the little children they once were are still alive inside them. The members of Congress were revealing themselves, but they had no idea they were doing so. They were showing us how they were treated as children.   Perhaps some were showing us how their parents would hold the family hostage to get their own way. Perhaps others were showing more specifically how their parents had a scorched earth policy, willing to destroy everything to have what they wanted. And maybe others were showing us how one or more of their parents wouldn’t protect the family, but instead would protect themselves . . . for fear of the hostage taker turning on them and punishing them.

I’m not a gambler, but from my experience with people and their psyches and souls . . . I would bet that if we could witness what happened in the childhoods of the congress people, even the parts of their childhoods that they don’t remember . . . we would see abuses of power just like the ones the congress people themselves just acted out.

It is so clear. It is right out in the light of day for all of us to see. If we don’t see it . . . what memories and feelings are we, ourselves, defending against?  What memories and feelings that shaped our relationship with power are we hiding from ourselves?  And how do we act out our misuse and abuse of power as a result?

It is not a simple, easy, quick process to heal our relationship with power. It is not simply a mental process, but includes our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our souls. It is not a straight, linear process, but rather a serpentine path unique to our particular unfolding, our particular development, and the mystery of our particular healing journey. But if we are going to help heal the abuse of power in our world, that is what’s needed to make it possible . . . to one by one by one explore and heal our relationship with power – how it developed, what it felt like, how we’ve buried it, how we act it out, and how we could, with true healing, use our power exquisitely for magnificent good.

© Judith Barr, 2013

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WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

All of us have times in our lives when we have power of some kind…and in those times, it’s crucial for us to thoroughly explore our relationship with power.

As you go through your life, try to become aware of times when you have power in relation to a situation, thing, or person. How do you react when you have power? What feelings are triggered in you? Do you know when you first had feelings that were the same or similar? Try to trace that feeling as far back in your life as you can. It will enlighten you about your relationship with power and the roots of that relationship.

Now imagine you’ve been given absolute power…power over everything and everyone around you. What would you do? How do you feel at the thought of having that much power? What feelings come up in you and how intense are those feelings? Can you trace back those feelings too…back to the first time you ever felt that way?

Continue exploring . . . remember how power was used with you by everyone in your childhood — parents, other adult relatives, older siblings, other adults like doctors, clergy, teachers, coaches, babysitters, and more. This is a crucial key: how others used their power in relation to you, and how they treated you in relation to your power.

None of us is so completely aware of ourselves that we have a perfect relationship with power.  Each of us has something evoked – however consciously or unconsciously – when we have power or when we have the choice to be in power. And all of us have power in some form or other, at some time or other. What you can do in order to actively do your part: Commit today to explore and heal your relationship with power…so you may use the power you have for magnificent good!

THE 2012 ELECTION: WHAT IS THE AGENDA…REALLY?

Merv’s father may seem like a god to him. He may worship his father, idealize his father, turn himself inside out to please his father and make his father love him and be proud of him. He may bend over backwards to help his father accomplish his goals, to endeavor to succeed in any of the areas where his father suffered failures, and to make his family name a proud one. From the place of the child he once was – still alive within him today – he would do this rather than displease his father for a moment. Rather than lose his father’s love or pleasure in him. He would do anything at all . . . rather than feel the loss of his father in any way at all.

Bill’s father may seem like a god to him, too. A god missing in action. A god who was absent but for a brief time many years too late. He may make up a myth about his father’s greatness. He may bend over backwards to incorporate little things he experienced of or with his father into his life. He may turn himself inside out to do great things in spite of his father’s absence, and he too may work extra hard to compensate for his own father’s failures, humiliations, and shortcomings. From the place of the child he was long ago – still alive inside him today – he would do this rather than feel the loss he already experienced. He would do anything at all . . . rather than feel the abandonment by his father in any way at all.

When examining politics, people look for the politician’s agenda. What is the candidate’s agenda as he or she campaigns for office? Or . . . when in office? We might think the agenda is one thing on one level of being. Like, for example, raising taxes, cutting taxes, or leaving taxes where they are. Or another example, helping the poor, helping the rich, helping everybody, helping nobody at all except yourself. We can point to parties that advocate these agendas. We can cite philosophies that support these agendas.

But what if these are not the agendas at all? And what if the real agendas aren’t what we think they are? What if the thing we keep missing – if we refuse to truly understand the psyches of human beings to their root – is the unconscious agenda of the psyche? What if the thing we keep refusing to know is that people will do anything to hold their early pain at bay? To keep it away? To keep it buried? To never ever feel it? And that unfortunately our society supports and normalizes this, causing great harm to our society? (But that for another time.)

What if the descriptions of men above are characterizations – however accurate or inaccurate, however complete or incomplete – of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. And what if their real agendas – perhaps unknown even to themselves – is to keep at bay feelings and fears of the threat of loss of father’s love and or father himself . . . or the actual loss of father’s love and of father himself?

What if these men’s political agendas are reflections of these primal root agendas? Now how do we – as citizens, as voting citizens — think and feel about their agendas? Now how do we, as voting citizens, think and feel about their candidacy? Now . . . how do we discern how our own primal agendas affect our choice of a candidate with his primal agenda? And how do we do this exploration now . . . in the time left between today and the election on November 6th?

Can you see this crucial picture? How we decide who we’re going to vote for depends not only on the primal agenda of the candidates . . . but also upon our own primal agendas. Or more importantly, if we are to be able to truly know and understand someone else’s primal agenda, we’re going to have to truly know and understand our own.

How are you going to explore this before Election Day? What you choose to do – or not do – will have an effect on you, your family, your community, our country, and our world for generations to come.

Imagine what our world would be like . . . if we were to even begin to cultivate and co-create a society in which we reach for and work for deep self-awareness instead of denial . . . healing to the root instead of normalizing and the status quo . . . transformation toward and into our truly greatest potential instead of dumbing down and numbing ourselves and each other.

© Judith Barr, 2012

Election 2012: The American Dysfunctional Family Undeniably Revealed

The 2012 Election process – every moment since the campaign began and even before – has revealed in glaring light not only the dysfunctional political system we live with, but also . . . and actually even more important and basic . . . the dysfunctional personal and communal aspects we live with and act out in our lives.   

In one way or another I have been writing about this since I began writing and then published my book, Power Abused, Power Healed. I have certainly been writing about it in my newsletters, blog posts, and newly in my videos on YouTube.  I just haven’t utilized this title as the umbrella theme.

If I did organize everything under an umbrella title about our dysfunction nationally – and even globally – I could pull together everything I’ve already written, and then I could continue to write ten thousand more hours and a hundred thousand more pages, and still not complete looking at every facet of the dysfunction amongst and within us that we need to see . . . and, of course, resolve and heal.

I am going to take the next step, though, and look at our dysfunction from one perspective . . . through one lens.  I hope you will open your mind and your heart to this, allow it to enter your consciousness, and let it inspire you to take a step in your part in the national healing. 

I’m presenting the picture as many in the media have presented it for the past week plus . . . Not as a partisan statement, but as an example of a mirror for us. If the media reports are accurate, they will offer an accurate mirror. If they are not accurate, they will offer an example of a possible mirror.  A mirror of how to end blame, and instead turn our fingers and our insistence on accountability away from the candidates alone and away from the candidates as they are portrayed to us  . . .  and onto ourselves. We need to look at ourselves. We need to look at our part.

If you are not here in America, I hope you will open your mind and heart to this, allow it to inform you that there are those of us here in America who are working deeply to heal and transform this, and also see the mirror of us in your own country . . . and in our world as a whole.

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It’s debate night. The debate has just taken place. One candidate seemed to be again and again in a most animated way, revealing the dishonesty in his verbal contradictions and in his eyes. The other candidate was flat, not very lively, and barely looked his opponent in the eye, if at all.

It’s an hour after the debate. A day later. Four days later. And more. The media people are giving us their perspective: talking about how the enthusiastic one who lied won the debate, and the one who didn’t confront him lost it. Yet another day and the media representatives report the polls and how the “animated liar” is winning now, while the “passive non-confronter” is losing now.  The media folks pretend to be reporting what’s happening. Don’t they see the part they play in the dysfunctional family of America? They are shaping the results, under the guise of reporting them. They are swaying people.

And don’t we see the part we play in this dysfunction? 

Here’s the picture we need to see . . .

It’s time to stop pointing our fingers at the candidates for president (or any other office, for that matter), and look instead at ourselves. (I’m not saying we should be blind to them, just that for right now, we need to look at ourselves.)

Let’s look at the presidential candidates as the two parents of our family. We won’t say who’s the mother and who’s the father. Just the two parents. The two parents who have been deeply, profoundly influenced by their parents. But that story for another time. For the sake of brevity and to avoid any confusion below as I make the bridge between candidates and parents, I will use the pronoun “he” for each parent.

The family’s all together for a big family dinner. One of the parents is very excitedly and animatedly lying about himself and what he’s done, is doing, and is going to do. The other parent is flat, affectless, non-confronting, albeit not silent, not voiceless.  Each, in his own way, is competing for the power. Each, in his own way, is competing for the favor of those in the family.

And what about the other members of the family? Well . . . what if there aren’t many of us in the family who are conscious of what’s going on? No one, after all, is perfectly conscious. Let’s look at two of the main possibilities.

The first possibility . . .

Most of us, somewhere within us, want to be with the winner. Want to be on the winning team. Want to be a winner. After all, who doesn’t want to be a winner? However distorted or not. Especially in a culture that too often teaches win/lose instead of win/win. Most of us, somewhere within us, want to have the power. Given that we were all once babies and therefore we all know what it’s like to feel powerless…who doesn’t want to have power? At least some of the power? And perhaps all the power, however distorted or not. Especially in a culture that too often teaches and models “power over” instead of “power with.” Most of us, somewhere within us, want to have the favor – the love – of those in the family. Who doesn’t want at least some of the love? And perhaps all of the love, however distorted or not. Especially in a culture that so often teaches distortions of love.

If it looks like one of the parents in a family is the strong, powerful parent, winning the competition . . . from someplace inside us – even if we are not aware of it – we will want to side with and perhaps even be like that strong, powerful, winning parent, even if that parent is lying. No matter what else that parent is doing.

What if you are not aware of this and have been swayed over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by the parent himself? Perhaps by seeing other family members being swayed over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by hearing people talking about what’s going on in your family and declaring this parent the strong, winning, favorite?

This would mean you would side with the parent who lies, in order to be on the winning team; in order to be with the seeming powerful parent; in order to be with the one who appears to be favored and loved. If you look at such a scenario through a child’s eyes, you might make the very same choice in this situation. But it’s not a very matured way of resolving a family conflict or competition. And it’s certainly not a very matured way of resolving an election choice.

The second possibility . . .

Somewhere within most of us – hopefully – we feel empathy for someone who seems to be unable to stand up to an energetic, lively person who is lying. We can imagine what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes. Maybe we already know what it’s like to be in that person’s shoes from our own life experience. We have compassion for his seeming weakness, or his seeming powerlessness, or his seemingly not being in the favor of those around. We want to help that person. We want to support that person. We may want to protect that person. We want to hold them up and cheer them on. After all, who doesn’t want some sense that if in the same shoes as that person . . . someone else would support us?

So if it looks like one of the parents in a family is the weak, powerless parent, losing the competition, from someplace inside us – even if we are not aware of it – we will want to side with and perhaps protect and help that person . . . no matter what is really going on with that person. No matter what.

What if you are not aware of this and have been moved over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by just seeing the parent in his relationship with the other parent? Perhaps by seeing other family members being moved over to this parent’s side? Perhaps by hearing people talking about what’s going on in your family and declaring this parent the weak, losing, not-chosen one?

This would mean you would side with the parent who seems to be unable to stand up and confront, in order to help him; in order to be the seeming protector; in order to be the seeming rescuer; in order to be loved by the weak one if not the strong one. If you look at this scene through a child’s eyes, you may very well make the same choice.  But it’s not a very matured way of resolving a family conflict or competition. And it certainly is not a very matured way of resolving an election choice.

So here we are . . . the American family coming close to the election. The parents may be revealing their dysfunction. But if the election votes are cast by our looking at their dysfunction alone, we are in big trouble. Because to not look at our own dysfunction before we go to the polls, means we will be casting our votes as children, and not at all as mature adults.

Imagine yourself a 5-year old. Imagine your 5-year old self going into the polls, going into the voting booth, having to step up on a stool to reach the lever or to mark your ballot. Having to step back down off the stool and walk over to the box into which you put your marked ballot, and having to step up on another stool to enter your ballot into the ballot box.

No matter how old you are. No matter how big your body. There is a child alive inside you that is not yet matured enough to vote.

What will you do between now and election day to help mature that little child so you are not voting from dysfunction, and so that you are not voting for dysfunction?

Will you simply remain a child and let the media tell you what to do?

Will you just look at the candidates and at how they are portrayed and vote solely on what you think you see, letting your own childhood history affect your voting choices without even realizing it?

Or will you find a way to explore how to make your choices not from a child place within you, but rather from a matured, adult place within?

© Judith Barr, 2012.

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WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP MAKE YOUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we get ever closer to the 2012 election . . . we all need to explore how our reactions to the candidates – and, just as importantly, the perception of the candidates that the media gives us – can be a mirror to our own inner wounding. This is crucial in all areas of our lives . . . but especially as we head towards casting our vote to elect our country’s leaders.

Ask yourself . . . how do I feel when I hear each of the candidates speak? When I hear reports in the media about how each candidate “performed” in the debate or how each is doing the polls? And who else in my life has evoked this same feeling? Trace back this feeling as far back into your life as you can . . . to try to find the root of your reactions to each candidate.

You may need the help of a really good therapist to help you explore and truly heal to the root so you can make clear, sound decisions. If you would like to explore how you can more deeply explore these issues in your life, I welcome your emails.

Here’s a list of other articles, posts, and videos that can help you as you explore . . .

“The Election Campaign and The Mob Mentality”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2016/07/21/the-election-campaign-and-the-mob-mentality-2/
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FBAySAmO8Q&feature=plcp

“It’s Election Time: Are You A Responsible Citizen?”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2012/09/04/its-election-time-are-you-a-responsible-citizen/
Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqHjL_p-RM8&feature=plcp

“Imagine It’s Election Day – Do You Really Know The Person You’re Voting For?”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2012/08/30/imagine-its-election-day-do-you-really-know-the-person-youre-voting-for/

“Elections – Yesterday and Tomorrow”
Article:
http://judithbarr.com/2010/11/14/elections-yesterday-and-tomorrow/

Imagine what our country would be like if we all did our own inner healing work, and could choose our leaders from a place of clarity, rather than from our woundedness! And imagine the effect on our world!

THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THE MOB MENTALITY

The conventions are over, there’s a bit of distance from them, and as long as you aren’t someplace where a candidate is “stomping” right now . . . . hopefully you can take a moment to breathe and a moment to be objective.

One of the scary and dangerous things about the election campaigns is the phenomenon of the mob mentality. People get caught up on a wave of energy and feeling . . . exactly the wave the campaigner intends them to get caught up on . . .  and carried away to exactly the place the campaigner intends. In the midst of this mob dynamic, people stop thinking for themselves, and allow the campaigners to think for them. And allow the campaigners to get them, the people, to think whatever the campaigners want them to think. Carried away on the wave, people disconnect from their own moral compass and their true feelings and instincts, and can no longer sense when a red flag is raised or an alarm bell is ringing. They are so carried away, they cannot even tell when there is danger afoot, let alone respond.

This is one of the things that was of such deep concern during the conventions. The speakers were whipping up the crowd, one by one, building to a crescendo that they hoped would carry people, unwittingly, into their camp. If a convention was for the party you are not part of, it might have been very scary to you to watch that . . . whether you could name it or not. If a convention was for the party you are part of, it might have been very exciting for you to watch that . . . whether you could name it or not, and whether you could discern that the same thing was going on in each convention or not. Maybe it just felt less scary to you with the party that believes what you believe. But it’s not less scary really. For in either case, the people in the crowd have suspended their own good sense, thinking, awareness, instinct . . . and, consciously or not, have said ‘yes’ to being carried away.

Do you like a roller coaster? If so, it’s like you have said “Yes I’ll go on this roller coaster ride . . . never mind the consequences! Never mind the danger!”

But what happens when you find out the consequences of your having suspended your own thinking? Then what happens? Then do you realize that by saying “yes” to being part of the mob dynamic . . . You have contributed to the mob? You have fed the mob energy? You have added to the mob frenzy? You have been part of actions taken and actions in process that you never intended to have happen? And that you will not now be able to stop? You have been part of things that you now regret. Or if not now, at some point you will regret?

This can happen on a micro level, like in a family, or on a macro level, like in a society. This can happen to you, too . .  .  even if you believe it can’t. Many of us believe we’re immune to this. But honestly, who amongst us is absolutely, perfectly conscious?

Let’s look at an example of the micro level:* Many years ago a very new friend of mine married someone she’d known since childhood. They had been friends, and their families had been friends for years. I was invited to the wedding and attended. I was also very uncomfortable. Something felt “off” to me about this “match made in heaven.” Some years later, my friend and I were walking, and she said she was getting divorced. We talked about what was going on, how she and her husband came to that decision, and how she felt. And then I told her I had been concerned from the beginning but hadn’t felt it my place to say anything since our friendship was so very new. With tears in her eyes she turned to me and said she wished I had said something. She shared that the families were so excited about the two of them getting married that she got carried away on the wave of the families’ excitement. She suspended her thinking, her real feelings, her instinct and let the mob mentality, so to speak, carry her someplace that wasn’t really good or true for her to go.

This kind of thing happens all the time on a micro level . . . in families, among siblings, among friends, and so forth. Often with painful, sometimes even truly destructive consequences. Think, for example of a family bullying one of the children in the family.

Now let’s look at an example of the macro level: In the book The Oxbow Incident, three innocent men are hanged by a would-be posse. Although one amongst them tries to save them, being part of the mob carries the others away from truth and justice. Only after the hangings have taken place, does the mob discover that their supposed justification for suspecting and killing the three men had never occurred at all. A truly serious, destructive consequence of getting caught up and carried away by the mob mentality.

Or let’s look at how the charisma of Adolph Hitler – which could have been used for great good – was misused and abused to carry people on a wave to their worst instincts and intentions . . . without their even realizing it. And how the mob mentality turned into a riot mentality that caused the deaths of millions of innocent people, the torture of millions more, and destruction beyond comprehension. Although we need to comprehend that kind of destruction that results from being carried on the wave of the mob mentality.

One final macro example: As I write this article, it has been revealed that there have been riots in two Middle Eastern cities at the embassies of the United States. The cause: Someone in the U.S. put an amateur movie clip and trailer on the internet making fun of Mohammed. The effect: People in the Middle East who believe in Allah and follow Mohammed saw the movie and began to protest. The protest (influenced and manipulated by some or not) turned into a mob and then a riot. At least four United States embassy people have been reported killed (so far). This shows that the riot mentality can take place in person, via television or radio, and via the internet, as well.

As you prepare to vote in the election on November 6th. . . I urge you to search your mind, your heart, your soul. I urge you to explore within yourself . . . Have I been caught up on a wave of mob mentality? Have I been vulnerable in some way unconsciously to allowing myself to be carried onto such a wave? Have I suspended my own thinking? My own true feelings? My own best instincts? If so, how did that happen? If so, how do I get myself off that wave and find a grounded place from which to re-explore? How do I discover what it was in me that caused me to let go of myself and join the wave? What do I need to heal in order to prevent that in the future?

As you and we move toward the election, and a very important election it is . . . Whatever information you gather in the outer world, commit to find the truth.

But most important of all . . . heal within yourself the place where you could be caught up on a wave of mob mentality, completely disconnected from truth. Completely disconnected from who you really are.

*I have full and generous permission from my friend to tell her story in its essence, in the service of helping us not be part of the mob mentality during this election process . . . or any time.

NOTE: Please pass this on to others you know and to places that support consciousness and truth. This is crucial for our wellbeing individually, as a society, and as a world.

© Judith Barr, 2012

IT’S ELECTION TIME: ARE YOU A RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN?

Why do they lie? The candidates and their public relations people.
Why do they report the lies as though they’re the truth, with little if any fact checking at all? The media.

What does it say about our politics that there is so much lying? Absence of integrity.
What does it say about our government? Corruption.
What does it say about our country? Weaknesses coming out into the open more than ever.  It could mean deteriorating. Or it could be well utilized for healing and transformation. Which will you choose and participate in?

Now . . . what happens if we shift the focus of our questions?
What happens if we ask about ourselves as citizens?
What does it mean if politicians and government leaders lie . . . and we believe them?
What does it mean if the media reports the lies as though they were the truth . . . and we believe them?
What if the fact checkers expose the lies, but we, believing the lies, move on and don’t even pay attention to the facts?

What does it mean about us if we believe and act on those lies?
Does it mean we’re blind to lies? Deaf to lies? Numb to lies?
Why would we be unable to identify a lie?
Are we not fully present in the current moment?
Have we been triggered by what’s going on and, as a result, regressed to a young age? Regressed to the child we once were who’s still alive inside us? A child who couldn’t bear to know that Mommy and/or Daddy were lying?
A child who made up a lie about what was going on in order to bear the pain of his/her existence in a painful childhood home?

Does it mean we can’t discern the truth from a lie?
Do we just simply not want to know?
How many of us have pain and trauma in our childhoods that drive our lives from beneath our awareness?
How many of us have built defenses against that pain, defenses that we absolutely do not want to take down?
How many of us, if asked straight out, would say we just don’t want to know . . . the truth of what happened to us?
The truth of what we felt when it happened?
How many of us choose lies over truth as a defense against pain?

Does it mean we are “immune” to lies?
That we don’t let them penetrate into our consciousness?
That we don’t let them touch our feeling selves?
That we make ourselves believe they wouldn’t affect us, even if they were lies … but they aren’t?
Does it mean we have deadened ourselves to the pain and so we’re also dead to our own aliveness? And the aliveness of lies that deeply impact us and our lives?
Does it mean that our efforts to hold our pain at bay – both our young pain and that of today – create a blockage within us that keeps us from our true instincts, which could easily discern lies from truth?

Does it mean that our own fear of the truth still alive within us from long, long ago is being manipulated by candidates and their staffs?
Is being taken advantage of by those trying to get certain people elected?
Is being used against us, thus confusing us even more, seducing us and deadening us even more, distancing us from our instincts and wise choices even more?

More important by far than what the candidates and government officials are doing with their lies in so many different forms is what we are doing with ourselves to keep ourselves from seeing the lies, hearing the lies, feeling the lies . . . and knowing the truth. Our lack of introspection . . . our lack of truly knowing ourselves . . . more than anything else . . . keeps us from being truly responsible citizens . . . on election day . . . and on any day at all.

Which will you choose and participate in? Continued deterioration of our society? Or healing and transformation into what we have the true potential to become? The first requires nothing of you … except to purposely block your introspection, continue to accept lies as truth, say ‘no’ and ‘I don’t want to know’ to your part in what’s going on – your wounds unacknowledged, unworked with, unresolved, unhealed. The second insists on your putting your whole heart and soul into being in truth and doing the inner healing work to know the truth, work for the truth, respond to the truth . . . holding yourself and the process with compassion.

© Judith Barr, 2012

IMAGINE IT’S ELECTION DAY – DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE PERSON YOU’RE VOTING FOR?

Imagine it’s Election Day. You walk into the voting booth.

Who are you going to vote for? Do you know how you came to that decision? Do you really know the person you may help put into office?

You may think you do. But it is highly unlikely!

You may think I mean it’s unlikely because so many candidates hide who they really are. Because so many put on a politically correct – or a supposedly politically correct – mask meant to do just that, hide themselves. Because so many candidates are the furthest thing from transparent. That’s part of why we keep discovering abuses of power by candidate after candidate, government official after government official.

But no, that’s not what I mean. I mean because . . . you may think you know e-x-a-c-t-l-y how you came to your decision, but that is more doubtful than you may imagine.

What if you have not been a particularly introspective person . . . and didn’t think that was necessary in relation to elections? What if you always thought you were introspective, but didn’t realize there is more introspection needed to be a truly good citizen, particularly in relation to elections? What if no matter how introspective you have been, you have so much more to understand about how our own unconscious can motivate us to make a choice – including a voting choice – or interfere with our making a healthy choice – including a voting choice?

Over the course of the coming weeks, I invite you to search within yourself to understand what is influencing your vote . . . beneath your awareness . . . to help you make the wisest, most conscious choice you can on election day.

Let me help you begin. Let’s look at an example of a major unconscious influence on your vote. What if when you were a child your father didn’t take care of your needs, but instead promised he would, and then just took care of his own. What if, without realizing it, you want the next president to take care of your needs – not from the adult place within you, but from the child still alive within you wanting a good daddy.

From a young place, you don’t even realize what you’re doing. You’re not even aware that you are going to vote for the “daddy you hope will take care of your needs.” Well, what if your own childhood pain seduces you into voting for the person who promises to take care of your needs and then breaks his promises and takes care of his own?

Did you ever think of that?

In my work, psychotherapy, this is called transference. It’s when you transfer onto a person, situation, or thing in the current day some person, experience, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, senses you had with someone in the past . . . particularly an authority figure. It happens not only in the therapist’s office, but all through our lives, every day, often without our even knowing about it. It happens with spouses, partners, employers, employees, friends, neighbors, professionals we go to like doctors, accountants, lawyers. It even happens with our own children.

What if we elect the next president because most of us are in transference with him? We think we know who we’re voting for on Election Day, but we’re really voting for someone from our past that we have transferred onto our candidate. Or we’re really voting for the corrective or idealized antidote to someone in our past who treated us badly, and we’ve transferred the idealized daddy, for example, onto our candidate.

Without our being aware of what can influence our vote, we may elect someone because of our unconscious wounding. Without the understanding and the introspection to find out . . . instead of being truly responsible citizens, we could end up being automatons thinking we’re voting responsibly but not doing so at all.

And without doing the introspective work, the real soul searching to know what in you is causing you to vote for Joe Smith . . . you can so easily be manipulated to vote for someone you would otherwise, with consciousness, not vote for. So easily, so scarily manipulated. That kind of manipulation is done all the time, and in so many ways: by ads, by sound bites, by lies, by covering up the truth, by attacks, by endless chaos and confusion, by months and months and months of hype around the elections, not just by the candidates but by the media, too.

For example, in connection with the example above, what if you have been manipulated based exactly on your fear that the daddy won’t take care of your needs because your daddy didn’t when you were a child? What if the candidate leads you to believe, even promises you that in effect . . . he will fix things and soon, and he will be a good daddy and this time take care of you. Your pain and fear from childhood – the pain and fear that you may not even be aware of and certainly haven’t worked through – will set you up to be seduced to voting for this candidate.

Yes, I did say seduced.

And if you help elect that person, what will you experience when he doesn’t take care of your needs, but instead takes care of his own and the needs of his cronies? Will you realize that what you are feeling is once again the pain from daddy’s broken promises and your unmet needs? Or will you think it’s just a thing of today? And will you realize that because you weren’t aware of the connections, because you hadn’t worked to heal it, you co-created this repeat experience that doesn’t just affect you, but affects our whole country, even the whole world? Will you be able to take responsibility for not having been a fully responsible voter? A completely responsible citizen?

Or will you pooh-pooh it all, brush it all aside, dismiss it all . . . and just be angry at the new president’s broken promises. Or the government? Or politics?

We all have a part – a deeper part than we know, a deeper part than many of us are willing to know – in our political system, our government, our country, our world. We all have a part – more unconscious than we know – in how things are created and co-created in our world. We will all have a part – beyond what we’ve been taught – in what’s happening over the next two plus months of the campaign and in the election itself.

Will you take this in and become more responsible in finding what part you are now playing, what part you would play if you stay unaware, and what part you could play if you really explore your consciousness? On Election Day, will you truly be a responsible citizen? Or will your actions as a citizen have been manipulated by others and driven by your unresolved transference . . . not by the adult you, but rather by the child you once were long ago still alive within you, showing you she or he needs the help to heal?

© Judith Barr, 2012

JUSTICE?

Osama Bin Laden was killed by the U.S. Navy Seals in Pakistan Sunday night. Many see the responses of U.S. citizens as natural.
Celebrations. Relief. Hatred fulfilled. Claims of justice.

Political concerns aside. Safety concerns aside. . .
A mixture of many responses.
Most media people I’ve heard have claimed it was justice.
Some have acknowledged their rage.
Some have called him the most hated man on the face of the earth.

Although he needed to be stopped . . .
although there may have been no other way to stop him . . .
although there may have been no other way to capture him . . .
sometimes, sadly, killing is the only option for protecting ourselves.
When animals in the wild kill for protection,
they have no negative intention accompanying their action.

But . . . we humans too often do.

Even though sometimes people aren’t satisfied until a ‘wrong-doer” is killed,
killing is never a matter of justice.
What kind of justice is it to kill someone?
What does it say about us if we call “justice”?
what is really revenge, getting someone back, getting even, avenging?
What does it say about us individually and culturally?
What does it say about our need to grow and develop ourselves into something more?
Into something more matured?
What does it say about our need to discover what justice really means?

How did you feel when you heard the news?
And what can you learn about yourself from how you felt?

© Judith Barr, 2011

THE POWER OF TOGETHER . . .

There are many lenses through which we need to look at Egypt in this era . . . and we do need to look. Many of them are very deep and complex. Although it’s impossible to do them all at once, today I offer this wondrous and more simple view:

There’s a beautiful children’s book by Leo Lionni.* In French the book is called Nageot, in English, Swimmy. In the story, there is a school of tiny red fish, with one black brother, Nageot. One day everyone in the school except Nageot is eaten by a big fish. Nageot, sad and scared, goes on his way through the sea, having new adventures. One day, he sees a school of tiny red fish, similar to those with whom he originally swam. He invites them to go on adventures with him, but they are too frightened . . . the big fish will eat them.

Nageot won’t give up. Unwilling to pretend there’s nothing to be afraid of, and yet unwilling to be paralyzed by fear, he is determined to find a solution . . . and finally he does: They can all swim together, each in his or her own specific place, so that together they look like a gigantic fish and they will be safe from the big fish.

And in Egypt . . .

The people of Egypt stayed together in Tahrir Square in Cairo. They didn’t attack. They didn’t become violent. They didn’t hide. They didn’t withdraw. They simply stayed together. What a testament to the power of working together!

© Judith Barr, 2011

*Swimmy by Leo Lionni, copyright 1963, Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc. Copyright renewed 1991, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York and Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Although I’ve told you the story, the pictures and the visual involvement in the story are still well worth experiencing first hand.