Saturday, August 27, 2011

We Can Be Proud: Our Democracy Works

Watergate, on top of the three "Big" assassinations of the 1960s, was a rude awakening, leaving many a young adult idealist view of our governing leaders changed forever. I was among them. Up until Watergate I still held onto my childhood hero-worship of presidents.

With fun-filled grade school celebrations for both Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays an annual bill of fare to which I looked forward, it hadn’t yet come into the naïve perspectives of those of us growing up in my era that the President of the United States Of America might lie to the American people, especially in a serious way.

More disillusioning for me, however, than accepting the disappointing reality to the contrary that our president could and would lie, was how deluded were the many citizens around me who willingly believed Richard Nixon regarding Watergate. I am proud to report I was not among them.

As Nixon proceeded forth with his boldfaced attempt to deceive the Watergate commission, I lay watching the hearings from a Washington, D.C. hospital bed certain that John Dean was the one telling the truth, Nixon the liar. Captivated by the hearings but even more so by the fact that I was awaiting the arrival of a donated cornea from the Eye Bank to be transplanted into my eye, replacing my own that was diseased, there was no other place for me to go. So, lying in my hospital bed, I entertained myself, applying my newly developing psychotherapy skills to the psychological diagnosis of the Watergate drama players and the games they were playing.

Out of my astonishment with, not only Nixon’s chicanery, but my ability to sleuth the truth, early on, and to recognize the citizenry collusiveness with this deceit, began one of the several passions of my professional career; understanding and upending the complicity between the aggressive or power addicted individual and the passive (i.e. co-dependent) addict. In the service of social justice, I have pursued this fascination for transforming the Dark Side in society all these many years until it became my art.

Check out some of my stories about this on the history behind my professional work and the New Horizons program.

While this passion has not always made life easy, it certainly has been interesting. Under the tutelage of my psychiatrist mentor, Martin G. Groder, M.D., I came to understand how similar can be the character and inner dynamics of the convict and the high leadership individual. You can see this character likeness between convicts and many high leadership people, now, can’t you, if only by your intuition? 

Added to the clarity I gained on the subject, once I caught on to Groder’s accuracy of assessment in this area, the adeptness he passed on to me at managing the challenges of the task of upending power addictions has gratified the mischievous side of me more than once or twice.

Thus I admit that this certainty of knowing has served me well in a pinch, on occasion, both personally and professionally. Even brought me some fun, especially when coming face-to-face with an unknowing power addict who wrongly believed I might just be fooled by his/her charismatic aura. Sometimes I almost laughed out loud at my naughtiness.

Most gratifying for me, however, is to witness that the American people have done a lot of growing up since the days of Nixon and Watergate. Collectively, we are no longer so easily fooled by our leaders. Nor are we willing to accept deceit from our elected officials. Witness the intolerance of Bill Clinton’s deceptiveness regarding Monica Lewinsky (though we do seem to have forgiven him as we should) and the massive confrontations of the management, or lack thereof, of our political leaders over the debt ceiling.

For all its flaws, our democratic system is working. As a nation we are coming of age with greatly clarified expectations regarding the character of our representatives. What a journey it’s been. I can see these days in many ways that the best is yet to come. We can make it to awe! I can see it almost happening now in pockets around the country.

The Possible Human, Possible Society Study recently embarked upon by our New Horizons community development and violence prevention program is delighting me as it draws out expressions of personal integrity and that high American spirit I loved and believed in as a kid.

Please check out this project. Rarely have I been so certain about the alignment of New Horizons' recent projects with where the masses are headed. The time is now!  Certainly the rewards ahead will be of the co-creators living in this democracy that works.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

“If I Tell You Who I Am….

... and, you don’t like it, that’s all I’ve got.”

Words from a rather smallish sized book of insights, “Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?” by John Powell that made a huge impact on me.

I read it to client groups of mine off and on for years. You might enjoy its message too.

So now I’ve gone and done it; publicly exposed, my uncensored mad-side; my unedited, frustration with our current socio-political environment, and my passion for truth and clarity. Such a different voice from Anastasia, you might say.

Actually, I’ve been growing in this direction of expression since the early part of the year. What follows below is what my voice sounds like when I am a bit more soulful. And, somewhat excuses my coarseness (or so it looked to me.)

Oh, well, “I wear a thousand masks and all of them are me!”

Next steps at taking off my masks; finding socially lovely ways to stand in my truth and look good too. Patience. Patience. Patience.

However, sometimes things just get too much to concern oneself about “prettying it up.” I've been so long focused on "looking good." Not looking so good, I guess, is part of my growing up.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Know When I Know (Full post)

I know when I know. Even when I don’t know what I am knowing. Then, mostly, I need to wait for what I know I am knowing to be revealed. So what I knew – first off – as I sat by my/our fire circle that snowy day a few weeks back was that the fire in my soul was flaming.

It was firing up inside of me – almost – more than it had since the day I lost my eyesight. It was as if a life was bursting forth from the deepest part of my soul. It felt new and fresh as if seeing the light of day for the very first time. Yet, it was certainly rooted in an ancient part of me.

I knew that that fire was springing out of the calling of my soul to do my small part to somehow, at least, try to put an end to the mediocrity with which we are presently living. The Arizona shooting in January coupled with the voices of commentary from all parts of the country were speaking out, loud and clear; there must be an end to the political bashing! And, the general, mean-spirited, divisiveness running through our day-to-day lives.

These voices carried a strong message to me, as the fire was called up from my depths. Perhaps, there was one small thing, at least, that I could contribute. And, since there was one, at least -- offer it I must. So, I threw my cap into the ring, sharing my sense of that fire in me with whomever would listen, respectfully. The mediocrity of our society – and – worse its potential for, not only subtle violence, but mortal violence was being, at last, verbally shouted down.

Clearly, the subtle and not so subtle violence was making, not only me, a bit crazy, but, maybe, even the silent majority was now no longer willing to be silent. And, people would now be willing to act! Do something rather than nothing! Perhaps in the light of tragedy, we had – as a society – been brought to the right conditions. And, people would no longer sit still for that which had long grown out of bounds.

For days after that day by the fire, I felt a surge of passion and creativity that became an abiding hunger. Far greater than simple nostalgia. For the days before I lost my eyesight. When a certain skillfulness in me had routinely been able to lead those who chose to be my students into an experience of awe.

I HUNGERED FOR that AWE; a return to that place of community cohesiveness, I had co-created awe, again and again, with others for almost TWENTY-FIVE years before I lost my eyesight (but never my vision,) Through the old New Horizons Truth Or Dare Game -- there had been a regular, community coming together where awe was the expected and achieved outcome.

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The GAME’s On You, Mr. President!

... but only long enough for you to realize what you need to do to self-correct. You don’t get to hang out in the spotlight as though you are the almighty. Make a commitment to do what you need to do to be fully accountable for the mess we are in. Then take the necessary follow-up actions to back up your commitment.

No talking back either. And, you, Mr. President, don’t get to put a GAME on anyone else until you have fully looked at your part. You DO NOT get to re-direct the flak you are getting.

Now, it’s your turn Ms., Mrs and Mr. “other” politicians, the GAME’s on you. Then it moves on to the next elected representative politician with whom we, the constituents of America, wish to speak. Then onto the next and the next and the next after that.

Same procedure; listen to the words of that with which you are being confronted, make a “searching moral inventory” and clean up your act!

Eventually, of course, the GAME has to move on to you and me. We have to take that same responsibility; a searching moral inventory of what we are doing to help this country run well, or not doing that is contributing to the mess we are in?

Then clean up our acts. And make no excuses, that inventory must be fearless and so, also, must be our clean up operations!

Be sure to use your metaphoric, deep-cleaning, personal vacuum. And, take a good luck in the mirror at who you really are and what you are doing here.

It’s time to put a stop to the mediocrity of our leaders and of the mediocrity of ourselves; the “silent majority,” which is apparently doing a good bit to mis-manage this country with its passive-aggression.

Let’s really dig deep, now, to get to the truth, even the subtle ones that are holding us down.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Of The People, By The People And ....

... Instead Of The People!

It has taken me, as well as everyone else I know over age fifty, more than thirty years to get over Watergate. But who really “gets over” Watergate?”  Or, those “big” three assassinations of the ‘60s; of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.

Mourning is a process that follows on the heels of a significant, life changing loss. Mourning takes time, often a very long, long time. Managed conscientiously, it paves the way to an acceptance of a new reality. Mourning teaches us things.

New opportunities emerge out of our losses. Still the original wound lingers on. If it was important enough to our lives, the wound may never fully heal; a fact that becomes, after a time, meaningful in and of itself.

I have come to accept that myself, like many others, will never fully recover from what we lost in those assassinations and from Watergate. Still, as Jews proclaim of the Holocaust, “we remember that it may never happen again.” Remembering teaches us things we need to learn.

I’m never going to forget the April, 1968 day I stood by an apartment window in a high rise across from the Pentagon, watching Washington, D.C. burn. And, I am never going to forget the Friday, following the 2008 election of Barak Obama that I finally went into Washington, for the first time since that April day with joy and hope.

Unlike many of my fellow metro riders, also optimistically astir that November, 2008 day, however, I did not presume that the second coming of America’s “Messiah” was finally at hand. I had learned that lesson well.

Washington’s political scene, as long as I, or anyone else has truly known it, is a “game.” And, quite a mean-spirited one a great deal of the time, at that. People should know that and accept it. Maybe this time, after our recent, nasty debt ceiling debating showed, more people will.

How many eyes must we have to see that “We, the people…” are the hope of this country.

There is no coming Messiah!

We, who were yesterday’s youthful “Arab spring” are supposed to be today’s grown-ups, living out the wisdoms of what once were the elders upon whose shoulders we were carried. And, those truths we have come to know ourselves.

Our president is truly, like all others before him, “of the people, by the people, and instead of the people.” Those most invested in either attacking him or living through him are, more than anything else, projecting on to him that which they, at either extreme, are rejecting or wishing for in themselves. Both extremes are a way of using a person, typical of our American-way.

We love to live vicariously through our high profile people. Our own lives don’t seem to be enough to fulfill us. (Also known as co-dependency. With celebrities we do the same, albeit from the distance; same dysfunction, different venue from the one with which one might be sleeping.) So be it.

But, come on, try to get this, if you really be a true citizen of this democracy, stop pointing your fingers in blame at the president or “turning on” to him with your excitement addiction. Instead, try on this new way to think:

“Ask not what your country (or your president) can do for you, but what you can do for it (or him).”

Grow up, if you are even a bit shy of it, and accept that some of our greatest leaders of the second half of the twentieth century are gone! The American Messiah is not coming, again, to save our great and wonderful country. Complaining, blaming etc. are ways to avoid accepting what's real.Let’s mourn these losses and keep learning from them how to be leaders ourselves.

Mourning is not an event, such as was naively attributed to reactions to yesterday’s massive downslide on Wall Street. Mourning is an honorable process that paves our way to learn.

And, it behooves us to do just that! Beginning right now.

P.S. Though I be a registered Democrat, I cannot, personally, promise now who I will vote for in 2012 so don’t be blaming that fact on me for my words here.