Like the Rest of Us
Natalia J. Garland
When I read Deepak Chopra's blog on the Huffington Post, I was
shocked. I came across his analysis of Sarah Palin last Saturday,
and my thoughts have been reeling ever since. My time is limited,
and I have to pick and choose what I write about. There are many
topics which I relinquish in order to focus better on the few that
I can manage within my weekly or monthly schedules. Chopra's blog
was one of those topics that would have been passed by: I do not
have the time, and I am working on another essay which has
required a lot of research. But, Chopra's views were so
disturbing, I figured the only way I could filter through the
confusion was to let my fingers do some typing. So, I'm thinking
and typing, and typing and thinking.
Gov. Sarah Palin to Sen. Barack Obama, referring to her as his
shadow. Since Chopra briefly states that the shadow is a
psychological term, I assume that he is working from the theory of
Carl Jung. Now, I have never practiced Jungian therapy and I
do not claim to be an expert in that area. Chopra's descriptions,
however, are vivid enough that even someone without direct
experience of Jungian therapy can understand the point which
Chopra is trying to make. The following is quoted from Chopra's
blog as posted on 09/04/08 and which I accessed on 09/13/08.
She [Sarah Palin] is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his
shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their
worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of
the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations,
virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger,
fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the
other." For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those
feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for
us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up
hidden reactions of an unsavory kind.
[End of quote.]
Wow! Where did
Palin get such psychological powers? Until a few weeks ago, she
was a relatively unknown governor in a far-away state that most of
us have never visited. If Palin represents Obama's shadow, then
why was her resistance to Obama's higher visions not obvious in
Alaska? How was she able to do some good things up there? Why
were her unwholesome powers only unleashed upon her acceptance of
the vice-presidential nomination? What if Sen. McCain had chosen
some other running mate? Would Palin still be regarded as Obama's
Already, there is a
problem with the logic in Chopra's presentation. And, I think
it's really this lack of logic that makes my head spin, more than
the fact that Chopra's views are different from my own. Chopra
might have made his point more clearly if he had approached the
differences between Palin and Obama within the context of an
American cultural divide, or from an explanation of post-modern
thought and whether this influences his opinion of Palin, or from
an evaluation of the philosophies of the 2008 Republican and
Instead, he has
nearly demonized Palin. Or is that, in fact, his point? That
Palin is unholy?! Chopra might disagree with Palin or even
question her character (and provide supporting evidence), but it
is doubtful that she personifies the shadow of Obama's idealism or
that she conscientiously wants to lead millions of people to
follow any hidden, inhumane impulses. It is also doubtful that
millions will succumb to any unintentional negative effects of
Palin's views. If we are talking about mob rule or mass hysteria,
I think Palin's homespun lifestyle falls short of the necessary
megalomania to sway millions.
Here are the
specifics on how "Palin sent a rousing call to those who want
to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision."
Look at what she stands for:
- Small town
values--a denial of America's global role, a return to petty,
of world affairs--a repudiation of the need to repair America's
values--a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social
justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be
stands on guns and abortion--a scornful repudiation that these
issues can be negotiated with those who
usual fallback in a failed war.
italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and
excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your
[End of quote.]
Oh, where do I
start?! Well, Chopra admits that we all have a shadow. "Not
just conservatives possess a shadow--we all do." So, he
regards Palin as a conservative (not a demon, unless the two words
are synonyms), and he seems especially concerned about
conservatives as shadow(s). However, if we all have a shadow
(individually or collectively), Chopra might have been more
convincing if he had also described Obama or liberals as a
shadow of someone else. It gets confusing, because the shadow
belongs to the interior, psychological realm. But, Chopra has
given it personification. So, looking again at what Palin stands
for, let's see if we can find a shadow of the shadow.
- Small town values: Palin is an everyday person, like many of
us. She could have come from a small town, a sprawling suburb, or
a mobile home park. In other words, she is not part of any
American political dynasty or aristocracy: Bush, Clinton, or what
might become Kennedy/Obama. And, she is not ivy-league educated.
She graduated from a state university which is more within the
reach of middle and working class people. She gives hope to
everyday people through her example of democracy in action.
of world affairs: everyone knows that America's image needs repair.
America needs allies, and America has always given assistance to
other nations. Nonetheless, there will always be people who envy
and hate America. There are political shadows expressed in the
form of terrorism and religious fanaticism. It is ignorant to
believe in utopia or permanent world peace. But we constantly
strive toward world peace, and America is one of the global leaders
- Family values: Palin is an accomplished
woman, a product of civil rights and the original feminist
movement. She is intelligent, sexual, maternal, and spiritual. If
others want to pursue different lifestyles, that's up to them.
Furthermore, family values also include the protection of women and
children from abuse--that's social justice.
stands on guns and abortion: guns and abortion are matters of the
Constitution and other laws. Apparently, Palin has not broken any
laws regarding guns and abortion. Therefore, the word rigid
is not applicable. She has a right to her own beliefs, opinions,
who determines that a war has failed, or that a war cannot be won
with changes in strategy? Chopra? America's enemies? The
Democratic Party? The military? The
- "Reform:" this
is not necessarily about ideology, but about spending, bribery,
incompetence, cronyism, voter fraud, etc.
Perhaps now we can
catch a glimpse of another shadow. Obama probably made a mistake
when he did not choose a female vice-presidential candidate.
Although there may have been understandable reasons for not
selecting Sen. Hillary Clinton, there were also substantial
reasons for selecting her or some other qualified woman.
Whether Obama has a shadow resistance to competent women, or
whether he simply made a strategical error, he opened the door for
Obama chose an
older male for his running mate, as though he needed a father
figure. In the politics of a past era, this dynamic might have
been workable and have even gone unnoticed or accepted as normal.
Democrats will not admit that Obama goofed. Unfortunately, Obama
was not true to his own idealism and vision, and that cannot be
blamed on Sarah Palin. Meanwhile, he still has to contend with a
qualified woman--not as a rival for the presidential nomination,
but as a potential president running against a potential
Today's essay was
not meant to promote or defend Palin as a candidate, but to
deconstruct Chopra's version of the shadow and to expose a lack
of logic. There are faulty conclusions that could be drawn from
what appears to be either/or thinking. It could be
concluded that if you do not support Obama (or, if you support
Palin), then you are probably racist, prejudiced, ethnocentric,
anti-immigrant, and oppressive and persecutory toward all who are
different from you or who disagree with your ways.
Some people cannot
fathom that an individual can be politically conservative or
moderate, can engage in a traditional lifestyle, can practice
Christianity; and still care about others, treat them with
respect, and affirm their right to self-determination. Before I
close today's essay, let me offer one more quotation from Chopra.
Then, I'm going to stop thinking and typing (well, maybe just the
typing), and tend to the rest of my day.
....there are millions of women who stand on the side of
conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own
good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by
raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to
change, and narrow-mindedness.
[End of quote.]
Who decides what
is for a woman's own good? I could be wrong, but I feel like I'm
detecting an element of condescension or intolerance in the above
remark. In civilized society, there is always a balance of
individual rights, protective laws, and one's own voluntary
adherence to religious doctrine. I just feel like the above
remark has an anti-Christian tone in its reference to
conservatism. But maybe I'm wrong. I'm only an imperfect human.
Still thinking, thinking.... (Written 09/15/08: bibliography available.)
Until we meet