The echo chamber that is my Facebook page is flooded with grief and disbelief on the eve of Brett Kavanaugh’s election as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Whether or not Kavanaugh had been found guilty of the crime(s) he allegedly committed: the man disqualified himself on many levels by objective measure. Yet, he will serve the nation’s highest court for a lifetime. The distraught voices of protest in the Senate gallery scintillated with rage. There is an imminent, desperate tone to the activists’ chants. Similarly, in the photograph below, shared on Facebook by NPR photo editor Mary Mathis, the distraught woman asks: “How are we going to find the strength to keep on fighting?”
As an expatriate US citizen, I find myself ethically beyond perturbed by the Kavanaugh development. Emotionally, however, the consequences feel distant and dull at best. For me personally, the sun will rise again come morning. I will go to work and I will go about my personal business. While some may put their necks on the line for collective injustice, the reality is that most of us will not. We may re-post a YouTube video or two, we scan the headlines on our preferred news apps in the morning and we might moan to our friends over after-work drinks. In a recent article published on “Medium”, Ijeoma Oluo rightly points out that our rage ought to be put to good use. While I wholeheartedly agree with the energizing and productive quality of anger, I also believe that we are fundamentally stirred by the personal and the immediate. It is there, where we should be investing the limited resource that is our emotional energy. Demonstrative resistance is well and good – a rightful tool within the democratic process. But I can’t help but wonder if the heartbroken woman in the image above isn’t investing too much of her resources beyond the scope of her immediate surroundings.
True transformation is essentially forged through the diligent and often solitary work of untangling oneself, integrating the conscious and unconscious and becoming truly yourself. This encapsulates loosely what Carl G. Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, referred to as Individuation. And let’s be clear: the health of our collective is vitally dependent on the work of the silent middle, wedged between one-sided, opposing extremes. Kavanaugh’s yay-Sayers were never going to be swayed by a noisy minority of angry protesters in revolt. So before you feel guilty for not doing your part in political activism, consider first what can be done closer to home.
Where do your friends personally draw the line when it comes to sexual harassment? Chances are, your opinions will diverge. How does your partner react when a close friend is displaying behavior he doesn’t agree with? We’ve all known a Kavanaugh-type. Do you advocate for yourself at work? If you admired Christine Blasey Ford’s courage to speak up, go ahead and negotiate a higher salary if you’re in a position to do so. Do you hold yourself accountable when it comes to your own priorities? The more balanced and nourished you are as an individual, the more resources you have to allocate to causes you feel passionate about. Reestablishing collective political balance is entirely contingent on each of us tending to our own metaphorical backyard. We have the potential to be greater than the sum of our individual parts – but only so long as the individual parts are whole and thriving.