A very important piece of this puzzling injustice that has been lost through the George Zimmerman verdict is the direct perception of the fact that race, as a delusional concept, has been handed down throughout the centuries and burrowed itself comfortably in the consciousness of an ordinary human being. What George Zimmerman ought to represent at this troubling moment is what is possible when a destructive delusion such as race-based criminalization takes possession of a human being who is armed. The emotional intensity surrounding the verdict doesn’t allow us to see as clearly as we must, but it is important that we are able to extract what lies beneath the surface of this injustice, bring it to the surface and utilize it as a mirror reflecting violence worldwide.
Stripped of all of its innumerable adornments, racism is simple dehumanization. This dehumanization has been portrayed under many faces throughout history and has lasting influence in our contemporary worldview. The psychological violence perpetuated by “savage” or “nigger” or “kike” or “wetback” or “cracker/devil” has come clothed in stereotypes of supposed others, stances of superiority, and our demonstrated inability to reflectively take the time to truly come to an understanding of the sacred other. We are a world and a struggling humanity, deeply divided against ourselves, representing what Carl Jung referred to as “optional neurotics”.
But, let us take a look at this a bit further before we jump down that rabbit hole. At a fundamental level of biological difference, evolutionary theory and biologists have informed us that race does not exist. Without going deeper than that, the next view in this analysis is that to hold on to a view that has no basis in reality makes one delusional. The extreme end of living in a world of delusions is someone living with schizophrenia that sees objects that are not appearing to other people’s vision. Can’t this be said of people who cling to race-based perception and the stereotypes that come with them? Why has it taken us so long to inform the masses that racist belief systems that dehumanize another human being is a form of mental illness? These are deeply embedded psychological abnormalities that become housed in human consciousness, take possession of our thinking and perceptual capacity, thereby acting on or operating through a human being.
In other words … it’s a sickness. But fortunately for the need for optimism, it’s a dis-ease with a cure (I believe).
The teachings of Hua-Yen Buddhism that found me some years ago portrayed to my awareness that material reality is a manifestation of numinous nothingness. I also learned this through Traditional African Religion and Taoism as well, but the exegesis of the Avatamsaka Sutra by Chinese Philosophers like Fa-Tsang teach us about an interweaving reality of non-duality that portray reality as one movement, at the absolute level. Not as a romantic notion, or nice idea to get people to love one another, but as reality. One Reality. Sometimes it is visible through the human body that houses trillions of cells, different organs with different functions, different regulatory systems, all comprising – upholding – one being.
But, to not stray too far from the point of what I’m saying, Carl Jung one of the great thinkers of early (still modern) psychology defined a neurotic as being “divided against themselves” (against our inherent oneness). He went on to note that, “These victims of the psychic dichotomy of our time are merely optional neurotics: their apparent morbidity drops away the moment the gulf between the ego and the unconscious is closed.” This might be a leap for many to make but as we are able to strip ourselves of the burdening language of othering as it exist in our psychology, we create space for greater meanings and understandings of reality to reveal themselves. It should go without saying that the word “race” is a tasteless cover-up for our will to remain shallowly indignant to greater understanding, stuck in “psychic dichotomy” – optionally neurotic. Race is an arbitrary concept, just like many others that have no clear, evidentiary basis in reality. To this Jung says, “Experience is stripped of its substance, and instead mere names are substituted, which are henceforth put in the place of reality. No on has any obligations to a concept; that is what is so agreeable about conceptuality – it promises protection from experience …. Words butter no parsnips; nevertheless, this futile procedure is repeated ad infinitum.”
Yes, ad infinitum. This dehumanizing psychic dichotomy is happening now in Burma. It is happening now in Pakistan. Obviously, this is what has happened in Sanford, Florida with George Zimmerman and throughout the U.S. as we live in the aftermath of the verdict. But, one of the trickiest aspects of this view on dehumanized neuroticism is that we all have the potential to be both victim and perpetrator; oppressor and oppressed. Our immense task is a movement toward humanization. George Zimmerman and many other aggressors that advocate and enact violence on other human beings are at the same time victims of the excessive promotion and internalization of sickening concepts that destroy human lives. As Paulo Freire has taught us:
“But while both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only the first is the people’s vocation. This vocation is constantly negated, yet it is affirmed by that very negation. It is thwarted by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and the violence of the oppressors; it is affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost humanity.
Dehumanization, which marks not only those whose humanity has been stolen, but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it, is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human. This distortion occurs within history; but it is not an historical vocation. Indeed, to admit of dehumanization as an historical vocation would lead either to cynicism or total despair. The struggle for humanization … for the overcoming of alienation, for the affirmation of men and women as persons would be meaningless. This struggle is only possible because dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed.
Because it is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.
This, then, is the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.”
Sorry for the long quote, but the point of this statement by Freire is dramatically important in this violent moment and as we move forward in our will to become fully human. George Zimmerman is a human being as are the military personnel that are drone bombing Pakistani civilians. Yet, our dehumanization of them only deepens the divide and puts us further from liberation. I think that most of us understand this notion but we have to bring it to the fore of the conversation. These psychological distortions that have placed us in an unhealthy social reality must be met with audacious compassion intent on healing resolutions. This is a crisis in consciousness and our psychological relationship with one another. The only way this neurosis can be met is by bringing the light of awareness into our consciousness to dispel dehumanization. It is a task for all of humanity.