In America, we live in an either/or world. Either you are an individualist (a Republican or Libertarian) or you are a progressive socialist (Democrat). Did it ever occur to anyone that a person who is concerned about social issues may also be an independent, self-responsible person? And how about those Americans who are always slamming government and trying to ever reduce social protections, supposedly because they are worried about losing individual liberties? Don’t they ever need help? Don’t they benefit from the organization and infrastructures that government provides? Do they have running water? Do they drive a car on paved roads? Do they live in a neighborhood?
My point is simple. We are all individuals. We all value our freedoms and try our best to respect ourselves and others as well as our commitments. We are also members of a community of some kind. We all (or most of us, anyway), live in communities. Unless you live in a cabin somewhere far in the woods and are completely off the grid, you depend on social structures and government for your everyday survival and well being. We do need government, and, my Republican or borderline anarchist tea party friends, I highly doubt you are all considering living completely off the grid. I know that the wealthy in America feel that all comforts and services can be bought. The reason that businesses need to be regulated is that greed and the desire to accumulate is an aspect of human nature which, when uncontrolled, leads to great social inequality and social chaos. This can lead to war, famine, and other crisis situations which are historically not good at all for any civilization or culture. An attempt at social equality is an attempt to create balance and harmony in society. Social stability leads to relative prosperity for all people living in a society.
I am a progressive, and I am concerned about social welfare. Welfare means well-being. It doesn’t mean subsidizing other people who don’t want to take care of themselves. We all want to take care of our self and our family. As American citizens, we spend large portions of our time devoted to working for others, and in exchange, we hope we will earn enough resources to take care of our ourselves, our children, our homes, our pets. I always pay my bills on time, and I consider myself to be a highly independent, proud, and resourceful person. In America, I work over 50 hours each week, yet I rarely have enough money to buy food and basic necessities. I live very frugally. My son and I almost never go on vacation. I have not been on an airplane in 7 years. Our car is 16 years old. I buy most of our clothing in a thrift store. At my job, I only accrue one and a half hours of sick leave each pay period. It takes months just to earn one day off. If I fall sick, I would have to work weekends to make up the time. I am a busy single parent. I need time to rest. I am concerned about the quality of my life, about what I have to contribute. I want to work for our country and contribute my personal talents. As it happens, my talents are in art, writing, and teaching. Because America today doesn’t value the arts, I cannot make a living doing what I was born to do. I haven’t given up. I know I will achieve my destiny.
What I want to say is this: I have lived in a country with a social safety net (France), and I have lived in a country which in many ways is without a social safety net for the majority of its citizens (the United States), each for decades. The peace of mind which comes from knowing that I could not be fired for no reason and for having a written work contract gave me peace of mind in France. The health care system in France also gave me peace of mind. In the United States, I go to work every day knowing that my employer can let me go for no reason. I also pay a lot of money for health insurance, but I still cannot afford to go to the doctors I know and with whom I have built a relationship. These doctors are not covered by my insurance policy. I cannot find good doctors in my network. It is a complicated, awkward, expensive system here in America, and I worry that while I am a pretty healthy person, how will I get care if an emergency happens? I am a single parent. How will I take care of my son if an accident happens to me? There will be no one here to help.
The title of this post, “Yin and Yang: the political divide in America” is about how this divide is unnatural. What would a society be like that was comprised of men only? Would that be a good thing? The answer to that rhetorical question is obvious. The response to the same question as applied to women would be equally evident. We, in America, have been run by a political, economic, and social system with a very heavy male hand and male thought process for a very long time. An excess of individualism is unhealthy, as is an excess of collectivism. We need balance, and balance requires that the voices and concerns of individualists (male values) are valued equally to those devoted to community (feminine values) This is not a feminist rant. A society out of balance is beneficial for no one in the long run.
Today, our two party system seems to represent no one person. We are all individuals and we are all part of a society. The needs of the individual and the group need to be met, and letting either energy force take over leads to an unhealthy society where a lot of people are going to suffer. We need to let go of Capitalism just as much as we have determined that Communism does not work. Neither of these systems works because they both stifle basic human needs. Communism restricts individual creativity and our natural need for freedom of expression and movement. On the other hand, Capitalism promotes an excess of individualism, and the consequences are many. Too much competition, too much emphasis on personal success, accumulation of wealth and power…and the result is that the group suffers as a whole. In any society, there are always individuals who are more motivated by the accumulation of power and wealth, and if these individuals and their desires and the businesses they run are unregulated, the entire group suffers.
In fact, not only does the group suffer, but the spirit of the feminine suffers. The feminine is embodied by our environment, by nature, by human and animal welfare, by the rhythms of our bodies and our necessary desire to be creative and find sustenance in community. In our Capitalistic society, exploitation of natural resources, people, animals, without restraint or empathy – the ability to use anything and anyone that exists as a resource by which wealth can be extracted – all of this is authorized. This dominance by the “male energies” has lead us to where we are today. Women are forced to work and behave like men. Society is deprived of our the gifts of the feminine. We are deprived of beauty, of the comforts of love and care. Our communities are atomized. Drug use and crime rates have escalated exponentially. People are suffering because they are deprived of our feminine heritage. Even our God is male. He is single. He has no female companion. The feminine has been abandoned, relegated to the subconscious, individually and collectively.
Violence and unrest is generated when vast areas of the human psyche are denied conscious access in the societies in which we live. The feminine is demanding to be recognized and incorporated into our cultures once again. In ancient times, goddesses were worshiped with equal authority to male gods. This differentiation – the “pagan” system – allowed people to experience the wide vocabulary of the various roles the different gods played in their own lives. People are full of contradictions. Being aware of these contractions and paradoxical needs helps us to live more fully. We are not money-making machines with no emotional needs. Even relationships have been objectified in America. When people are dating, they have a checklist. Men and women see a date as a prize with a status value. A woman on a date might be checking her cell phone to see if a better offer is waiting in the wings. No one seems to live in the moment. It is rare for people to be present for themselves or for one another. Lives are lost in the pursuit of emptiness and distraction.
Social inequality and the political divide, narcotics use, gun violence, domestic violence, animal abuse, the growth of huge corporate monopolies which dominate our banking, health care, food, pharmaceutical and other systems: these are all symptoms of a society out of balance.
I wish we had more nuance in our political system. More parties which could better represent the values we wish to and need to represent in our government, which needs to also better represent the diversity of our people. We need to respect individuals and groups. We need to protect and cherish all peoples, not exploit them. Capitalism has proved that deregulation does not lead to equal opportunities for wealth. We are, for a reason, born with different gifts. Some people are highly driven and competitive, ultra male. These people are favored in a Capitalist system, and these individuals chase and hoard resources. These same individuals do all they can to protect their ability to accumulate more wealth. This excess of individualism and masculinity does not, as anti-government Libertarians would have it, create more opportunity for more people.
There is a reason that some of us are born female, some male. Within each person, there are “male” and “female” energies. Some men are more feminine: more empathic, caring, emotionally aware. Some women have a “male” dominance and are competitive, logical. We are complex beings with many needs and talents. Our societies need all of our talents, and if we refuse to recognize the voice of at least half of our natural heritage, our communities suffer in consequence. We all individually and collectively suffer when the feminine is suppressed. We don’t even realize it. Our health suffers. Our environment suffers. We create systems which create suffering in other countries around the world. Farm animals suffer because they are treated as objects and not as sentient beings. We need to care and be cared for.
In our political race today towards the 2016 presidential elections, we see the ultra testosterone-laden individualist, persuasive and charismatic speaker, misogynist, and successful entrepreneur Donald Trump possibly facing off Bernie Sanders, an equally passionate and long time devoted crusader for social justice, outspoken against the excesses of our “male” dominated culture. Sanders is a man of integrity, an idealist, a progressive. He cares about people and social issues. Passions are running high, because we, the people, need to see radical change implemented. But an understanding that we need balance has not been expressed. There is a war between the sexual energies, an archetypal war, that is being waged. If we don’t wake up and become aware, how will we create balance together? I support Bernie Sanders, because, whether he knows it or not, he is leading the way for a strong return of the feminine. We have traveled so far in the excesses of the masculine for so long, that we need a long period of sustenance, to drink from the cup of feminine energies, before returning to a place somewhere in the middle.
Living intentionally, with a conscious awareness of our masculine and feminine heritage as human beings will lead us to build more balanced societies, to pass legislation which respects all of our needs as individuals and as communities. Being aware of the male and female within each of us will help us all grow in compassion for ourselves, for other people, for all animals, for our environment. We can learn to build businesses which are sustainable, which respect the feminine. We can heal our planet, and we can heal our drug problems and our obsessions with violence, accumulation of wealth and status. I firmly believe there is room for everyone in this world. There will always be conflict, but we don’t need to be so highly polarized. We can’t choose between being a member of a community or being an individual. I know I can’t. Because I am both. As a human being, I am a male and a female. That is my heritage. It is what we are, and our needs are spelled out in our DNA. Let us please learn to be aware of who and what we are as human beings. Then, and only then, can we build a better society and a future for our children where they can thrive.