Christopher Knippers, Ph.D.
Paradise appears on the horizon in a vast churning gleaming sea of clear blue, green, and slightly violet waters teaming with multicolored fish and coral. Lush tropical foliage, colorful fragrant blossoms with the sounds of birds singing in the trees waving in the trade winds of Hawaii create a peaceful ethereal world of pure enchantment.
How did such a magical paradise come into being? It was not always peaceful nor beautiful. In fact it was a violent fiery explosion followed by a seeming void from which came this enchanting world to which we flock by the millions each year. Hawaii was formed from centuries of boiling hot pressure building and finally exploding from the floor of a spectacular Pacific Ocean. Very gradually paradise was formed over millennia through many tropical storms blowing across a barren rocky landscape, migrating birds planting seeds, and eventually migrating Polynesians bringing their culture of Aloha to these nascent islands. Many cultural revolutions occurred through the centuries trying to destroy Aloha, but the Aloha of the original Polynesians prevailed. It took extreme pressure and eventual explosions along with thousands of years of nature creating paradise out of this blank canvas in order to have a new world.
We look at our current world in 2021 and desperately try to explain the chaos, violence, explosiveness, and shocking attitudes of even a few of our closest friends and relatives who seem to have gone mad. What is happening!?
Much like the pressure of a volcanic eruption the world’s cultures have all been in processes of great disruption and eruption with pressure building for centuries. Society is under tremendous pressure and is beginning to explode. People’s darker natures are being triggered and are being exposed by the uncertainty and stress of cultural revolution, pandemics, economic inequities, uncertainty, and a void of clear leadership. Millions of people live in fear. There is currently a void of confident, rational leadership in the world; so every interest group is trying to exploit the uncertainty to promote their own agenda as the answer.
There are also people giving in to their natural (for many reasons) nature of Love. Millions of people of literally all ages are doing amazingly kind and charitable deeds in the world: Feeding the hungry; housing the homeless; caring for the true “victims” (children, the disabled, elderly); healing through medicine and through just being a supportive presence in people’s lives.
The masses would rather hear about the events that justify their own fears and their own sense of failure; therefore it is rare to hear about these loving people in the media.
The greatest division in our world is the division between the 2 great forces in our human natures: Fear and Love. Our basic nature is exposed in times of great stress.
Our world is indeed in a time of great revolution and transition.
It is the resulting chaos and uncertainty which eventually explodes into conditions which lead to a new world. All great cultural transformations begin with pressure, which leads to explosion, which leads to chaos and uncertainty, which leads to change and a new world order.
The brilliant psychiatrist Carl Jung who revolutionized our understanding of psychology, anthropology and spirituality warned us many years ago that our “Shadow Self” was a mighty force with which to be reckoned. He said that we all have potent personal characteristics that we try to keep hidden but which none-the-less do exist within us and bubble up to the surface to surprise and dismay us in times of stress. These characteristics are necessary, especially when we need a strong defense as when the “Mother Bear” in us comes out if our kids are being harmed. Other times this Shadow Self emerges when we are frightened (angry, anxious, etc.) causing us to over-react to a relatively minor threat to our well-being, or a threat to the image we want to have of ourselves (our persona.
Our entire world seems to be in a process of getting in touch with the Shadow Self. The political divisiveness, the economic inequities, the pandemic seem to have triggered a tectonic shift in our very souls. We have all been at least slightly shifted off our axis.
Carl Jung said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” He also said, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.”
The pain we are experiencing in ourselves and in our world is all part of coming to a new consciousness; a new world. The pain and conflict must be exposed in order to make way for the new world order we have been desiring for centuries.
In many people the pain is manifesting as fear and it’s other manifestations such as anxiety, and anger. Fear/Anger, while often necessary, can bring out the worst in people, especially when we do not take the effort to realize the lessons we need to learn from anger/fear and then move on. Some people make a life style of anger and fear. When I was a psychology intern in maximum security prison, most of my inmate patients truly believed that anger was their guiding force or higher power. Today, I see people holding onto their anger and even fear as if their ives depended on it.
I also see people who are all the more determined to bring out the love within them as the rest of society becomes more fearful/angry. There are millions of people in the world doing amazingly selfless, unconditionally loving acts of kindness and compassion. It is the people who get in touch with the unconditional love within them who will prevail and establish the new world order after the eruptions of fiery anger burn out.
Be a force of Love in these uncertain, chaotic times. Love prevails and plants the seeds of paradise.
Christopher Knippers, Ph.D. July 12, 2021