A New American Vision: Rethinking Our Past and Future Mythologies, Part 2 – Guest Post by Marian A. Lee

Vision is not mere fantasy devoid of pragmatic realism but an expression of our core values linked to universal experiences.  For a nation that used to pride itself on a universal concept of E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one), we have politically divided and compartmentalized ourselves in the “Pluribus,” but have precious little “Unum” to show the world as the American political process continues to grind away defined by fractured relations and contentious posturing.  Our “better angels” have obviously not alighted on this planet to guide our actions to date.

Both sides of the political spectrum confuse the “map with the territory” a concept first proposed by philosopher Alfred Korzybski and expanded upon by anthropologist Gregory Bateson.  In essence, people confuse their own personal maps of the world with the territory the map represents by the conviction that their view is the one and only “truth”.  As a result, we engage in never ending arguments over whose version of the truth is the correct view of reality.  When gazing through a universal lens, multiple realities exist which necessitates a collaborative response for effective governing so that each reality is honored at a given level of consciousness, while moving toward wholeness and understanding. Creating a national vision where multiple realities from diverse perspectives are organized into a coherent unified force to solve our complex domestic and global problems has clearly been lacking in the current political climate.

Furthermore, the capacity of our … Continue reading

A New American Vision: Rethinking Our Past and Future Mythologies, Part 1 – Guest Post by Marian A. Lee

Black Elk, a Native American visionary and Lakota Sioux medicine man chronicled by John Neihardt in Black Elk Speaks, believed a coherent vision to be central to a people’s well-being.  Black Elk’s prophetic message was clear—“Without vision, the people perish.”  A vision encompasses not only the values and goals a people strive to honor but creates a mythology of who we are, what we stand for and how our vision fits into the cosmic order. Out of this mythology comes its symbolism of meaning that functions in maintaining the moral integrity and stability of the community as a whole, while also assisting individual members through the stages of life. Vision permeates what Jung calls the self, “…the organizing principle of the personality,” through the archetypal symbolism we embody tied to the collective unconscious. According to Jung, the self is the archetype of order, organization and most importantly, unification, which harmonizes all other archetypes and their manifestation.  The visionary connected self carries us through crises that occur during the course of our individual lives and the history of a people.

Joseph Campbell, a professor and lecturer on comparative mythology and author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, found that danger exists when the social order requirements and interpretations of social institutions (religious, political and cultural) “…press on people mythological structures that no longer match their human experience.” Campbell maintained that the symbols or metaphors which express societal mythology must possess a “spiritual aura” signifying a living spiritual core of awakening.  If mythological symbols are “…reduced to the concrete goals of a particular political system of socialization,” they lack the “connotative meaning of … Continue reading