Racial Hatred: Our Shadow Self
Current Replays of an Ancient Scourge
As I write this article, tear gas still wafts through the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, as the tragic saga of yet another slain black youth—Michael Brown—plays out on the stage of life that we call ‘modern’ America.
This horrific event comes in the wake of another black man shot in Los Angeles, still another choked to death by a police officer in New York City, not to mention the thousands of minorities executed and beheaded by ISIL in the northern portions of Iraq.
One might think we’d learned the lessons of Auchwitz and Dachau, or moved past lynchings that occurred as recently as the 1950’s, or gone beyond the violent and tragic beatings of Selma, Alabama, and the murders of decent people like Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman or Emmitt Till. But, alas, it isn’t so.
Racism and cultural hatred are still with us, as pernicious as ever, and making a comeback, it appears. On the very night of the Inauguration of the United States’ first black president in January of 2009, Republicans plotted a strategy of ‘NO,’ determined to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
That goal was beyond reach, so the abusing of voting rights and women’s rights as related to health care and workers’ rights took center stage instead, along with ‘Birther’ myths and cries of ‘Socialism.’
What lies behind all this? Not just a clamoring for power and control, but deeper issues, with the hatred of other races and minorities at the head of the list. The not-so-ironic truth is that all of this was to be expected. Why? Because of an aspect of human nature that psychiatrist Carl Jung termed the “shadow self.” An excellent web-pages article on that subject is well worth reading. Use the link below to access it, after you read the rest of this article.
Carl Jung and the Shadow: An Introduction
- Carl Jung and the Shadow: An Introduction
The Jungian Shadow: Its Phenomenology, Detection and Conscious Integration Psychiatrist Carl Jung’s construct of the shadow, comprised of the denied aspects of the self (1959, p. 20), conceals within itself the golden key not only to...
Looking into the Shadows
Each human being has parts of his or her personality that are denied. They lurk in the background of consciousness and haunt us at our weakest and most vulnerable moments. We don’t see these darker aspects of ourselves without a great deal of introspective work, but we do see their effects.
Whenever we lash out in anger at someone else, or envy the success of others, or refer to any individual or group with a collective ‘them’ and express disapproval or outrage, we unleash our shadow selves.
The truth is, what we hate, we fear in ourselves. It’s no mystery that many TV evangelists and conservative politicians who decry homosexuality or other immoral behavior are often forced later to confront their own hidden predilections along those same lines. It’s the ‘log in your own eye’ syndrome mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 7:3-5, or what's termed in psychology as projection.
Moving Toward a Solution
The way to resolve these inner conflicts and avoid immense hurt and suffering in the world at large is to acknowledge the dark side in ourselves and express the fear that is present in us.
Some people may be totally incapable (or unwilling) to undertake such a task. In such cases they need to be stopped, by force if necessary. But most of us are ‘works in progress,’ and we’re willing to learn and adapt and change for the better.
That we do so is crucial, not just for ourselves, but for the betterment of our society and the world around us.
It’s high time that we exorcise the demons within, in order to restore peace and justice to our planet.