The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference …

Elie Wiesel

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It is rather amazing to me that in a society that spends lavishly on education, we can have public discourse that seems so often devoid of familiarity with history or culture.  The absence of each leaves us talking of things without knowing very much, having any insight.  The result: we are trapped in ignorance, bound for error.

I cite a simple case in point today and I will follow tomorrow with another one or two.

Joseph Campbell in his excellent book The Hero of a Thousand Faces tells of the “head hunting tribes” of New Guinea who sought to excise the image of the father as an archetypal figure who intrudes in the blissful paradise that is the relationship between the mother and the infant.

In this culture whatever is killed in life, by the protector men in the culture, becomes a symbol of the intruding father and the killing restores an equilibrium, a state of paradise. In this context, they project aggression on their neighbors and violent conflict becomes a natural result in the course of securing contact with what is recognized as a perfect setting – the mother and the infant.

Well, so what?

If you review cultures, you will find that these sorts of ideas are not uncommon, that the human being projects all sorts of notions that, attempting to secure a sacred experience, produce behavior that might seem wrong, immoral, savage. The further point is this: such paradigms and their resultant conduct are common to the psychological nature of the human person.  Well, still – so what?

Has anyone in public commentary sought to understand precisely what poor inner city violence (say, in Chicago) that has young Black men killing one another and innocent bystanders says psychologically?  Culturally?  Does anyone seek to decipher what this might actually say?

Is it an expression of the loss of the institutions of fatherhood and family in the urban Black experience?  Does it arise as a statement of the grief, or protest, or disorder that Black men know within from the loss of something so vital as fatherhood and family?

Could anyone not image the pain endured when such a vital identity as fatherhood is denied?  And family lost?  As Christians who value above all the Father and the Son, and revere the Spirit and the Virgin Mother, is what we see not speaking to us at greater and more urgent depth?

I just never hear much of a conversation that sheds light on what is a tragic, serious and desperately sad problem that we must come to understand and address.

At present we seem so uncaring in our abject indifference.  We talk, and the killing continues.

Shalom.

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