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 na├»ve 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.

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