Sunday, December 25, 2016

Reflections on Patriarchal Mind, Despair and Hope

Yes, I know it is Christmas, but I celebrated the Solstice a few days ago in grand style, and today, I made the mistake of going to Facebook and reading some of the news feeds.  Frankly, ever since the election and the scary people rapidly being put into power to determine the fate of America and the environment......I've felt shell shot.  I don't know how to get my hope back,  I feel the tides rushing very fast now.  With every chest thumping, fist pounding gesture, and every impulsive, bullying tweet the new president makes, I am reminded of the famous words of Louis IIIIX, just before the French Revolution:  "Apres moi, la deluge."  

With the power to incite devastating war, with the urgency of environmental destruction  ignored and denied, with every indication of repression, bigotry, and misogyny arising even before Trump takes office..........what hope is there?  Is this something that will bring forth reaction and ultimate change?  Or does it mean the real irretrievable splintering of this country?   What do people like me do now, besides trying to be as  kind, and generous as possible?

Trump and his cronies are already talking about "increasing our nuclear armaments" and enhancing the military.  The Military in the U.S. already receives some 60% of the tax dollar.  And this country has an arsenal of nuclear arms that could easily destroy every single living thing on the planet some 50 times over. This is the farthest imaginable extreme of the patriarchal mind.

I've marched against Vietnam, and against the invasion of Iraq, each time seeing the streets of San Francisco swollen with 300,000 people. Yet the wars went on.   Why do we still have no control over the militarism of our country?  Why is the new administration pulling out the phallic spectres of bombs so gleefully?  Why does no one seem to notice the elephant in the room?

When I was in Bali I used to go to the Temple of Hanuman to feed the grey monkeys that lived in the forest there.  It was a common sight to see the little females struggling to forage with an infant on their breasts, and an older child hanging on for dear life to their backs.  One day I turned up with a bunch of bananas, and a very big alpha male monkey sauntered over, walking very much as a human bully would, bared his considerable teeth at me, and grabbed the whole bunch out of my hands.  I wasn't going to argue.  He sauntered away, sat down with the entire bunch, and all the rest of the monkeys gathered around, hoping he might drop something. 

I remember thinking, damn, I sure hope, as a very large tribe of naked monkeys, we can evolve beyond this.  

Hollywood churns out distopian movies now that are all about a ruined world, with roaming bands of warriors fighting for alpha male status - endless mythos of a "hero" fighting it out, and ending up, like that grey monkey, for a while, with all the bananas and the best females.  Until, of course, the next alpha male turns up with bigger firepower.  This is the adolescent male fantasy that absorbs virtually all "action" films, and tragically, all it can imagine for the future is endless war and competition, although, if we're lucky, there is a certain pause in the action when the hero finally gets the girl. 

But this is the  foundational mythos that millions of boys (and girls) now addictively act out with video games, video games that will prepare them someday to push buttons that launch drone bombs to far away places, never seeing in their minds or hearts the face of the children, women, old people upon whom they will fall.  They don't see the ruined faces of the children of Aleppo, a tragedy unfolding even as I write, they don't remember for one moment the faces of the dead of Kosovo, and bodies piled high in Vietnam, or in the pits of German concentration camps or the killing fields of Cambodia.    None of this has been hidden, it's all been documented in living color for the past 50 years.  And yet nothing changes.   

This is the imbalance in the human psyche taking its continual toll.  Has it always been like this?  No.  Marija Gimbutas and others have demonstrated that past cultures have existed for long periods of time, their economies and values, reflected in their art and their buriel remains, not based upon conquest and war.  The his-story of humanity is not all the domain of the violent  patriarchal war gods.    This is what happens when the Goddess is removed from the sacred vocabulary.

Pray indeed for our country now,  if the alpha male chest thumping of Trump has any substance to it.  Pray for the ravaged earth our descendants must live on.  And for the millions of innocents who will experience our bombs along with the violent tyranny of their own tyrants.  And the thousands of  youth who will not become doctors, or parents, or artists, or gardeners, or environmental activists, but who will die as soldiers. 

When I feel stressed, thanks to Netflix, I now escape into Star Trek.  Yes, there's a lot of fighting there, but there is also, especially in the earlier versions, a lot of hope that I no longer see in our media. I was fortunate, I see now, to live in such a hopeful time.  Inherent in Star trek was the firm concept of a noble crew and captain, and a society that sought to explore "where no one has gone before" with the Prime Directive, leaving behind a home world without poverty or injustice. The recent "Star Trek" movies, featuring new actors portraying younger versions of Kirk and Spock, feature brilliant special effects - but nowhere is there the effort to teach some kind of morality, ethics, or human relational  interest that was a concern in Gene Roddenberry's earlier series. It's like a video game - endless bang bang and blow 'em up.  I imagine most young people find the "moralizing" of old Star Trek shows boring indeed.  But if stories can't help us to learn how to be human beings, what does?  

We all know now we're not going to the stars.  2001 has come and gone, and unlike the vision Kubrick had, we didn't go to the moon in that year.  Instead we went to war, again, and then again.  And we have learned very little about how to live together on, and preserve, our beloved Mother Earth.  Mostly I cry for the loss of so much that is beautiful, and I cry for the future, for our children and their children, who are not going to the stars or the moon, but rather will struggle to survive in the debris of our  civilization, a civilization with so many wonders, so much possibility.  Here's another  email I recently received, from a woman named Ariadne:
"I'm not hopeful about the future. It's clear that this civilization will not survive the effects of climate change and the many other consequences of our pollution, overpopulation, greed and lack of empathy. Nor should patriarchal civilization survive, but it's unlikely to die without a catastrophic collapse. The survivors will be trying to scratch out an existence in a biologically depauperate world.  To me, Goddess is Nature -- the Universe and the Earth. She does not need us; we need Her. But I think the evolutionary experiment on Earth of combining large brains with testosterone has been a fairly quick flop -- managing to exist for only a quarter million years before evolving to extinction.  It's a big universe, and no doubt there are other experiments in "intelligence" under way elsewhere. Life will go on here on Earth for hundreds of millions of years after we are gone."
"GAIA" (1986)

Should I mince my words, for fear of offending, not share the anger and despair of people like Ariadne?  I already have friends who are telling me to "chill", to calm down and stop being upset and political, who are talking about some variation or other of "everything happens for a reason."  I think the people of Aleppo, or the people suffering in Mongolia right now as the permafrost melts and they can't farm anymore........would find no comfort in such mysticism.  Yes, it is important to not lose one's center.  But I do not think I will calm down.  

I pray for real guidance, in spite of it all.  We all know what good and beauty  human beings are capable of - we celebrate Martin Luthor King for what he accomplished, and Susan B. Anthony, and FDR, and so many others  who helped to make a  better and more just America, the America that was capable of inspiring the world.  People who represented that evolution beyond patriarchy, an evolution toward cooperation.   No matter what, we must hold on to these principles, these possibilities.  I do not believe in mindless "positivity".  But  I do believe in finding ways to go forward with love,  with compassion, and with generosity -  if not always hope.
"Dove of Sophia" by Hrana Janto.


Gail said...

Right after I posted my dream to our group, I clicked on to read your most recent 'musings' and WOW! Many of us must be going through the same despair. If it wasn't for the postings about the bravery of the Indigenous at Standing Rock - I might tend to lean towards Ariadne's doomsday prophesy.

My dream:
Hope everyone had a peaceful Yule/Christmas holiday. I thought I did - until I had this dream.

This morning I dreamed that I heard a noise and opened my bedroom door and saw the bottom half of a man on the stairway landing only wearing GRAY underwear. I quickly locked the door and let myself out the WINDOW onto the roof. I grabbed some scaffolding and let myself down to the ground. As I was running towards the GATE he was right behind me lauging creepily. As he caught me - all of a sudden I was with a COUNSELLOR in group therapy explaining what had just happened.

"In the chase dream you are on the defensive trying to evade being caught by the pursuer in your dream. You may try to simply outwit you pursuer or you may try to get away by running. The standard feelings that one gets in the chase or flee dream is a feeling of insecurity, anxiety, being out of control, and fear.

The common interpretation for the chase dream is that you are being told by your subconscious that there is an issue or person that you have been trying to avoid. In the chase dream your pursuer matters for the meaning. If you are being chased by someone you know it could be that you fear the individual exposing something about you to others or discovering something personal. Being chased by an animal will have a different meaning than being chased by a person.

Dreaming about being chased may also mean that you are trying to avoid something painful, uneasy or fearful of something. These feelings in the real world can often be expressed in a person’s subconscious through the act of dreaming about it. People who don’t like to confront situations in the real world and run away from their problem may have a chase or fleeing dream. It is always important to ask yourself what you are running from in the dream."

"Gray, a mixture of white and black, is a neutral color. It can mean indecision, uncertainty, or confusion. It may mean isolation or detachment. It may also mean lifeless or dull."

I'm pretty sure this is all about my fears for the future with the Trump administration in charge. I've been 'holding everything in' trying to convince myself that maybe everything will be alright. I feel deep despair, for the environment and disadvantaged, yet absolutely HELPLESS.

After I wrote this dream down at 4:20am I was sitting up in bed with my eyes closed wondering if I should just get up when I had a vision/dream. A long road lay before me with a canopy of trees covering the road so thickly that it was like a dark tunnel, but light enough for me to see the dark green of the trees. I could see a car's headlights coming towards me and daylight at the other end of the tree tunnel. Then it changed and it seemed there was a hill in the tunnel that shut out the light and the tunnel was completely dark. I was standing at the end thinking that I could be ATTACKED from the woods or from someone in a car if I walked down that dark path alone. My protective Animus was no where around.
Not a great place to be at the end of 2016.

Lauren Raine said...

Thanks Gail, for your thoughtful and insightful sharing of this dream. Yes, I think it does reflect the fear that many of us feel. I have written about it, and know as well that it is something we need to acknowledge so we can be clear and self aware as we go forward to do our work. And the work is be as much "light" as each of us has to share, to illuminate, to be. I also had a powerful experience about this recently, as well as sharing a Solstice ritual with 25 people about "lighting and igniting"......I hope to be able to write about it soon.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Lauren. You summed up so much of what burns in my body. Tears, me too. At least they're true.