Today we have a look at a combination of themes from the last 2 Journal entries.
Two Journal entries ago I wrote from Richard Rohr’s book On the Threshold of Transformation, Daily Meditations for Men. This writing covered his meditations for days 199-202 which were about understanding and working with one’s shadow psycho-emotional energetic. We project this energy out into the world and people around us.
This Journal will consider Rohr’s meditation for Day 204, Cultures Have Shadows, Too.
Here is the meditation followed by Rohr’s question for the day:
“Shadows are carried not only by individuals but by cultures as well. Societies have their secrets and denials. Every group, nation, religion, and race has taboo subjects that they corporately agree not to talk about. In Victorian England, for example, body fluids or body functions were never to be spoken of in public. All was externally proper and polite. Miss Manners was in charge of everything. However, England exported its shadow issues out to its colonies, where ‘improper’ peoples could be subjected, enslaved, and sexually abused.
All groups, organizations, and cultures have a social face. Everything that seems unsuitable goes underground. Our uncivilized desires and feelings, the identities we don’t want, are hidden in the shadow world. Soon we forget the shadow’s existence, and we believe our public image. When that happens, a group or nation is capable of doing great evil without recognizing it as evil.
God sends prophets to make nations aware of their shadow side, which usually results in the prophets getting persecuted or killed.”
The Day 204 Question: What are some of the elements that your culture keeps in shadow? What helps you recognize these elements?
Crestone and Beyond
To assist your depth of perception about this cultural shadow issue, all you have to do is turn on the military or the history channel and catch some of the footage of how we bombed Germany and Japan and Viet Nam into seeming oblivion and profound human suffering. Other countries and factions have done this in the past also. Why do we keep creating wars and sufferings on such vast scales?
Past Surgical Anecdotes…My Study of the Cultural Shadow
I shall tell you about some of my past history, which offered me direct insights into our cultural shadow, and my own shadow.
In my surgical past I was often taken to school in human violence, and I did not even have to join any branch of the armed forces to get my training. When I was a young surgeon I often operated all day and all night on gunshot victims of urban violence. There were many such events in my training days in New Orleans and Baltimore.
I stood, blood soaked through to the skin, sometimes with blood pooling in my shoes, for hours in surgery. In the city streets, I also saw friends and other people gunned down in urban police fire fights. Once I was held up at pistol point. On another occasion I was shot at by a madman. Fortunately, I was not armed myself, or my life would have dramatically changed in some way. I was fortunate to just escape this problem.
When you have tended to the victims of so much violence, when you have been muzzled by someone pointing a firearm at you, when you have been shot at intentionally, and when you have witnessed so much violence, then your inner psychic terrain going to be affected. This kind of pain must be transformed, or it will be transmitted.
These types of personal experiences always get filed away in what I now refer to as the personal trauma inventory. Such memories and events inform the individual shadow psyche. This accumulates inwardly and often spills over into the cultural shadow psyche.
A society and a culture can grow into a large composite shadow force. The composite shadow of a society obviously can affect an individual, as it did in my case. My reaction to the violent events I was involved in was to move to a smaller more peaceful city. Upon finishing my surgery residency, I moved to relatively peaceful Boulder, Colorado.
To assist the healing evolution of my psyche I took up the study of Tae Kwon Do. I learned to fight. My teacher was Grand Master Chul Woo Jung, 9th degree black belt in 3 different martial forms, and 3 times world champion. He once said that I had a lot of anger. I did have such an anger, but I learned to transform it. It was the shadowy type of anger, the type that I now try to help my clients heal in their lives.
While training in this martial arts form form, I broke ribs and fingers in some of the daily sparring, and I would show up in the OR the next day, and keep operating on people. I worked a lot out of my shadow in those days simply through persistence and becoming more resilient. Such is one short version of my Boulder chapter.
In 20 years of general, vascular, and trauma surgery in Boulder, I recount operating on 2 gunshot victims. This stands in contrast to my earlier days in New Orleans and Baltimore when such surgeries were a daily event.
The Boulder sheriff shot one of those victims, a deranged fellow who charged the sheriff with a knife. He had just eaten a whole bag of alfalfa sprouts before being shot in the abdomen by the sheriff.
Upon meeting this patient in the Emergency Room, I made a simple series of simple diagnoses. He was shot with a 9 mm in the abdominal midline, a wound which was exuding whole alfalfa sprouts. It was not too much of a deductive reach to know that that my patient had been eating unchewed sprouts, and that the ballistic path included his stomach, and most likely some of the adjacent organs.
I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning sprouts out of every crevice of his abdomen and repairing his damaged stomach, small bowel, and colon. No sprout was left behind to fester and suppurate.
The 2 Boulder gunshot victims comprise a number which stands in stark contrast to the daily firearms events which go on in the bigger cities, where violence is seemingly ubiquitous, and unending. It is not unreasonable to conclude that the social collective consciousness of Boulder, CO is different from the bigger cities.
I consider the American society to be highly violent, and global statistics support the truth of this consideration. I do not believe that the American culture has this problem because there are so many firearms in America. I believe that the problem is in the psychic fabric of our society (just turn on your TV set where you can watch human violence glamorized on many channels at once), and in the traumatized individuals who live in this type of mass consciousness, and fall sway and crumble into some difficult reenactments from their past.
After leaving Boulder to live in tiny Crestone, I decided to go back to firearms practice, something I have always been skilled at, but never formally trained in. I engaged in a variety of types of training of a tactical nature, with a variety of firearms, and from a variety of teachers. And even after all of that, I went on to be trained in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), a course of study which trains medical professionals to deliver care to the injured while under fire, and also to return fire if necessary while under attack. I was trained by Army military personel, physicians, and law enforcement.
I also went out to San Diego and was schooled in a type of close encounter hand to hand fighting called Target Focused Training. This is perhaps the very best of the open hand self defense forms, and is relatively simple to study and practice.
Since the days when I put myself through all of this training, it feels like something has softened and healed deep down inside of me. I was always cool under the stress of the forms of violence I experienced, but the events were, and still are, imprinted and could still be viewed as disturbing. However, the only aspect which really disturbs me now is that our society is so violent.
One absorbs enormous psychic baggage from the kinds of events which I experienced. Such imprinting can be mitigated by a variety of healing modalities. In my case, I engaged in different types of immersion therapy.
These days I feel more at peace. I did what I had to do to heal an intense part of my past, and be able forgive it and transform it. I now feel protected and safe in my own skills, and so the inner vibrational attractant energetic which would bring me more violence has greatly diminished. I continue to enjoin this healing at more subtle levels in my being.
I respect and believe in every expressed intention of the Second Amendment of our Constitution, the right to bear arms. Some of our states are now passing laws for what is known as “Constitutional carry.” This is a mandate which encourages citizens to carry arms. In Colorado, one can “open carry,” with firearm visible on one’s person from 3 sides. One can also be trained and licensed for “concealed carry” in most states. The training is worth it, but to be reflexively conditioned in the use of lethal force, one will probably need more extensive training than what you will receive in such a one day course.
When you are faced with a dedicated lethal predator, you will have to know how to kill, or be killed. That is a summary statement of where our collective psyche has come to at this point in our social evolution in America.
If someone had been in the crowd, operating under Constitutional, concealed, or open carry, when Representative Gabrielle Giffords was injured, and others were killed, the scope of the event could have been aborted by one person who could have stepped forward with the requisite fortitude, reflexive training, and skill at arms.
Giffords was shot in the left side of the head on January 8, 2011, while meeting with constituents in Tucson, Arizona. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the attack, including the lawmaker. The perpetrator of this event had an overwhelming amount of shadow societal trauma informing his psyche. This is the disease that we must heal. It is present in all who engage in violence.
After the Harvard trained Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto successfully attacked Pearl Harbor, he was asked why he did not follow on with an invasion of America’s west coast. His now famous response was, “Because all Americans are armed with guns.”
When we heal our underlying societal and cultural shadow, and when we become a peaceful race, then we can put aside our perceived need to have firearms.
Signing off from Crestone and Beyond.
Thank you for reading.