It is simple and requires no personal change, to point the finger at one or a group of powerful "others" and highlight their failings. Unfortunately this approach is widely accepted. However it requires us giving away our personal power - through the assumption that others are more powerful and it is they who need to change.
We engage in this ritual most commonly in relation to politicians - an absurd habit really if we analyze that power structure and see that politicians are beholden not to the people, so much as to the corporations who fund their campaigns, and who they have to placate if they are to be reelected.
When I read the following description, from David C. Korten's latest book, of the early life of George W. Bush I found it easy to feel compassion for the individual. And it raised some questions.
Justin A. Frank, a respected Washington D.C., psychoanalyst and professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, points to George W. Bush as an example of the potentially tragic consequences of nonnurturant parenting. By his reading of the public record of George W.'s early childhood experience, Dr. Frank concludes that young George suffered a serious lack of nurturing parenting, with devastating consequences for the United States and the world as he subsequently acted out his unresolved childhood conflicts on the global stage.
Young George's father, George H.W. Bush, was largely absent from the home and had little role in George W.'s early upbringing. His emotional distant mother, Barbara Bush, was by her own account a strict disciplinarian who regularly invoked harsh physical punishment. When George was six, his younger sister, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia, but he did not learn of her illness until after her death. George simply was told not to play with her. In the meantime, his parents frequently flew with her to the East Coast for treatment. On her death he was left to struggle on his own with unresolved feelings of abandonment, resentment, self-blame, and love associated with the tragedy and his parents' stoic response to it.
Such early experiences profoundly influence whether a child will grow up to perceive the world as largely safe and affirming or threatening and alienating. They also influence whether the child develops a positive self-concept and the ability as an adult to admit error, feel compassion, and see oneself through the eyes of another -- in other words, the ability to take the step from an Imperial to a Socialised Consciousness and beyond. Persistent fears and self doubt may also translate into learning disabilities, rigid belief systems, claims to moral certainty, and megalomania that bar the passage to the high orders of consciousness. Confined to an Imperial Consciousness, individuals so afflicted are unable to acknowledge even to themselves the evil of the harm they inflict on others or the moral hypocrisy of their positions.
Dr. Frank documents the ways in which all these symptoms of thwarted development have been manifested by the adult George W. during his presidency. This pattern has been common among Empire's ruling elites since the earliest days of Empire, and the species has paid a terrible price.
One question that arises is: What form of society can we create that bypasses this unfortunate state of affairs? How do we bypass lineage as a primary determinant for who leads a society, and instead embrace and support only those outstanding individuals who demonstrate the real qualifications needed for such important roles?