Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Paul Levy: Breaking the Vow of Silence

animated_fractal_color_cycling.gifSilence is not golden, the adapted adage goes, just yellow: speak up! One is reminded about what Orwell said telling the truth in a time of universal deceit, and this spirit informs the Paul Levy piece presented here. A practitioner of integral psychology, Levy is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis, available at his website http://www.awakeninthedream.com.

Here, I feature an excerpt from one of his most recent articles, Breaking the vow of silence, a characteristically thoughtful scholarly-spiritual analytical amalgam that explores the fertile territory between psychology and politics. The piece begins with and then extrapolates from a perceptive anecdote on the psycho-social roots of our political conundrum in western and particularly Anglophone states, where creeping fascism and fearmongering threaten to become more than passing features of our political climate.

BREAKING THE VOW OF SILENCE

by Paul Levy

Certain events play out in our individual lives that reflect back to us situations that are happening in the collective life of our nation or world. One such event happened many years ago in the very synagogue in which I was Bar-Mitzvahed. In what today seems like a dream, I was with my parents on the holiest night of the entire Jewish year, “Kol Nidre”, the night before “Yom Kippur”, the day of atonement. I probably hadn’t been to a synagogue since my Bar-Mitzvah, which was years before. For the sermon, the rabbi gave an impassioned talk about how everybody hates the Jews, and that we all needed to band together against the world. His words were filled with hatred and venom. He was literally preaching fear and separation. His vision had nothing to do with love and compassion, and was certainly not based in wisdom.

I was outraged by the rabbi’s talk. Much to my dismay, when I expressed my feelings to my parents, they not only felt differently but also were very angry with me for having the nerve to be critical of their rabbi. They felt that I was being dis-respectful and sacrilegious by questioning the wisdom of the rabbi, who was, after all, the leader of their congregation.

A couple of months later, the rabbi got fired. Why? It was because he was consistently giving fear-inducing and hate-filled talks to his congregation. My parents told me about the rabbi being fired, and asked me, totally incredulous “How did you know”?

The underlying, unconscious psychological process that played out between my parents and the rabbi is very revealing, in that it is isomorphic (similar in structure) with what is playing out in our country today with people who are unquestioningly supporting the Bush regime and its criminal policies. Though the overwhelming majority of Americans now see through the current administration’s web of lies, there are still enough people who, like my parents blindly supporting the rabbi, either continue to unquestioningly support Bush in his madness, or recognizing the madness, remain silent. Each of these reactions allows the madness to enact itself unabated. The underlying psychological process that played out with the rabbi and his congregation was like a fractal that is presently reiterating itself en masse in our country as well as in numerous permutations throughout the world. Contemplating what was being symbolically revealed in the process with the rabbi can help us understand how to better deal with the madness that is currently being acted out in the body politic of our nation and our world at large. In blindly believing what the rabbi was saying, they naively invested their own power into his hands. In doing so, they forfeited their own right to think for themselves, to see out of their own eyes, to have their own experience, and gave it away to the rabbi, who gladly accepted all the donations of his follower’s minds. The rabbi then abused his rank, privilege, power and authority, as he manipulated the compliant minds of his congregation in order to feed his paranoid delusions. He was creating a dream of fear, hatred, separation, and violence, and was enlisting all of the followers he could entice.

Because the rabbi was an unquestioned authority figure who was assumed by my parents to know what he was talking about, they fell under his spell. In blindly believing what the rabbi was saying, they naively invested their own power into his hands. In doing so, they forfeited their own right to think for themselves, to see out of their own eyes, to have their own experience, and gave it away to the rabbi, who gladly accepted all the donations of his follower’s minds. The rabbi then abused his rank, privilege, power and authority, as he manipulated the compliant minds of his congregation in order to feed his paranoid delusions. He was creating a dream of fear, hatred, separation, and violence, and was enlisting all of the followers he could entice.

READ THE REST HERE

2 comments on “Paul Levy: Breaking the Vow of Silence

  1. homeyra
    11 July, 2007

    What an interesting text.
    We can change the “Rabbi” character with people of all schools of thought and belief, can’t we?

    “Having an enemy to collectively scapegoat and project the shadow onto was a great relief, though the fact that this process was based on a lie and was guaranteed to ultimately create nothing but guilt, fear, and violence went unnoticed by the members of the congregation.”

    Many should write these down! :)

  2. Ann El Khoury
    11 July, 2007

    Thanks Homeyra, I thought Levy’s were very wise words, too. Like you, I think the lesson is universal.

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Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"


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