Saturday, August 6, 2011


I was teaching a large group of poor young black children. It was under a tent and sort of like a VBS environment but secular. Two supportive white women were behind the scenes. I felt like I was connecting with the children. Right off the bat I referred to my and their  skin  color. I feared the ladies would think this was a bad move so early but they seemed to take this as a good sign that I was not afraid of the issue. I interacted spontaneously with the children in various ways and overall it seemed to be working for their benefit. I was connecting with them.

I then rented out a cheap three room apartment. The same day one of the same black boys showed up to visit me. I felt I had a boundary problem and was not successful in getting him to leave. Finally I went to bed. I woke up feeling disconnected. I was in a strange place and was wondering, "what have I got myself into?" I went to my little living room and there were four black boys bedded down. I immediately woke them and began to explain  that this was not OK. They could not stay with me. A couple of them left quickly saying beneath there breath, 'Jim does not care. Jim does not care.' I think the other two then left. I felt like crap and now I dreaded the next school session where these four children would likely not be so cooperative.
'The Least Of These' have many different faces.

This is a disturbing dream resurrecting an area of great unrest in my personal unconscious and perhaps in the collective of my middle class white American culture. I have nearly lived it as intensely as the dream shows. In my state funded counseling and 'high risk freshman' high school teaching I was similarly related to some 'poor blacks.' (Part of the problem is that it seems unavoidable to not describe and identify fellow humans with such words. But not to is to ignore the plight of some.) I was there supposedly as teacher and helper. I let myself be very aware of such children who live in near poverty conditions. But the always present fear was being called so fully into their 'other world' that I would lose the right to enjoy my own world of such comfort, safety and privilege. In the dream the black boys come into my world, however inappropriately on their part, and I am faced with having to, with much guilt, re-erect the boundaries between us. I think this taps into a deep cultural fear the nation faces now with respect to all underclass including poor whites, blacks and Hispanic and working immigrants. Our general level of religion and spiritual training makes us realize we have some kind of obligation to assist them in their plight but we do not want to fully engage with them as mutual human beings and the issues of shared world resources(Resources that we claim to believe do not belong to any of us personally, but to all of us.) I also think there is an underlying fear that if we(middle class folks) take seriously everyone having resources and environments of  fully enfranchised  'life' that we will find ourselves having 'less' than what we have become accustomed to. This is surely a conundrum the Christian gospels are always bringing into focus by the teaching and actions of Jesus. It seems conservative religion has an especially strong conflict of loyalties in this area, sometimes  teaching that social programs aimed at bringing fuller life and resources to poorer people  are somehow not appropriate or our social responsibility.

I realize that I have never personally found a clear or simple  solution to this moral dilemma. I ,like so many, have touched the people and the problem but always knowing I will retreat back to my more comfortable world. Even missionaries to third world countries who have correct and respectful values are often in this same predicament, fully knowing they will leave that diminished resources environment and return home to the privileged life. I understand that a person has to have a place of anchor called home from which to enter the larger world day in and day out. There is indeed a way of viewing this social reality that causes the 'more privileged' to have and act from much guilt. This guilt is very undefined and likely an unhealthy motivator in approaching real solutions to the problem. The kids were introducing this guilt in their chant, 'Jim doesn't care.'

I'm reminded of the words of Jesus regarding 'the least of these' and 'the little ones' for I think that is exactly what this dream is about. These teachings were surely central to the one who said to pray for 'daily bread' and suggest that a culture's 'debts' may literally destroy all of it's people. This dream is spun from an archetype that must have been very alive in Jesus'  consciousness  and is becoming more obvious, on a grander scale, in our own national and world culture.  My ego conscious thoughts would have never taken me to this place.  I am now so far removed from such people and consider it primarily a  'past' experience. I've even mistakenly tried to convince myself that I made my contribution and now am no longer burdened with it. The collective dream source is not ready to accept such an attitude at all....thus this unpleasant  intervention into my consciousness.

With the abuses of corporate and government power we have witnessed so directly in the recent decade I’m forced to the reality that the places of highest power in our culture are also places of great greed, hubris and selfishness. An example is that CEO's compensation has grown from 35 times more than the average worker 30 years ago to a whopping 350 times today. Privileged Americans have, while complaining about poorer people having an 'entitled' attitude,  become so 'entitled minded'  ourselves that we are sure every 'possession' and extravagance is one we have 'earned by hard work' and personal responsibility. Believing oneself to be entitled to greater resources, comfort and safety than many others may be our postmodern great sin. People with greater power and wealth take more 'because they can.' I was struck by President Clinton's statement well after his affair with a young intern. When asked why he did that he said, "because I could." He then added that , "Doing something because one can is the sorriest  moral motivation a person can act by." This is the attitude of entitlement. Even the poorest are unwilling to challenge such a materialistic belief. The poor instead often even honor the very ones who take so much and give back so little. They seem undisturbed that at least 40% of the nations productive wealth has landed in the hands of about 1 % of the people. I see this is an extremely dangerous spiritual and psychological situation. The congress, due to public consensus, cannot even consider limiting Social Security to what it was intended to be, a safety net for those who did not 'make it.' If it were reduced to being a benefit to those say with less than 100,000 new annual income our national deficit would significantly diminish. The same would happen if those who can obviously afford their own health care after retirement were expected to do so. The 'entitlement programs' are meant to be insurance polices. Either of these two 'entitlement' programs to the well-off is a far larger part of our deficit than all 'services to the poor' combined. Ones who are fortunate to have personal resources to gain these essential needs should not expect to receive benefits, exactly like all other kinds of insurance. But from the top to bottom we all are tempted to feel 'entitled' but see this only in others and not in ourselves. Recall Jesus' story of 'seeing the speck in the other's eye and not the post in our own?'  Another dream that pushed me to a higher consciousness with respect to the segregated South where I grew up is here:

As Jung clearly observed ,' Humans are most immoral in their groups and the larger the group the more the unconscious immorality.' The individuals involved could have such a discussion(about Social Security and Medicare), but protected within their group mentality such considerations are off the table- no discussion. Jung believed that the individual human is always far more likely to practice a genuine morality than is any group. Religious groups fall into the same trap. It is the 'shadow' of every group. They are strongly motivated to use their power to advance themselves, no matter what level of economic security they already enjoy. This greedy dynamic has opportunity to become more conscious due to the suffering in  with the middle class becoming the lower economic class. A  related developing irrational fear of 'illegal immigrants' as expressed in legislation like the Arizona Immigration Law is another outbreak of fearing  if 'others' lot is improved it may be too much expense to me.'  Thus a growing  number of  politicians  have reversed their stand from being for 'pathways to citizenship' to a 'send them back' mentality.

At the ego level I feel totally weak of any capacity to correct the personal error the dream exposes. It is a 'public Sin' more than an individual one. Only public policy can really bring significant progress to these social problems. That is why individuals are not as gripped by it as we should be. I would hope the ideas I have written of in other places offers views of how through the 'Self' coming to its own in more individuals such problems can move toward real solutions.(eg. this blog.... ') Our present public and religious mind sets offer little hope anymore. Surely  the presence and action of love, its combined forms of Agape, Eros and Phileo, is the necessary foundation for solutions to such overwhelming social/moral problems. It is my hope that America can become  a place the world can see  a major transformation in how the more powerful parts of the culture are able to genuinely and creatively make it so the underclass can also responsibly and mutually enjoy the fruits of the country's wealth. Such a transformation seems far away but hopefully it is closer than I can 'see.' It must be if we are to survive as the same nation under the guidance of our present founding documents.

I have had my personal moments of connecting with such children, and their adults, imaged in the dream. I've connected at times in such a way that the 'Self' is present. It is when I felt I was truly a part of their world. I've had moments, as I am confident many others have, of genuine Eros( genuinely liking at a fully mutual embodied level) connecting me to those who are 'different'. Such an experience, and I can think of no other, has the power to change both our worlds, and how we see everything that is. It is that higher view point which I pray can come into some clearer focus in our nation. Obviously that focus must eventually come to those who are in corporate and political power but it first has to appear in us more regular individuals. It will reach into the  power structures when more individuated psyches are able to 'hear and see' the plight of their fellow Americans. And to become confident that the more wealthy do not lose any genuine or important 'quality of life' by creating systems that allow the 'others' to be full participants of the fruits of the Earth. I think our founding documents are still able to shape such a vision, just as the Bible is still capable of supporting it.

This, not often quoted by some claiming to praise  the founding documents, 'socialist sounding' line from the the Declaration of Independence points to the needed capacity, With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." This is the profound and transforming Spirit of the U. S. Constitution that is most needed today. Jim

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