Facing The Dark Side: Spiritual Challenges of the Capitol Attack

United States Capitol - Wikipedia

I love our Capitol. I remember visiting it on a tour when I was a boy. I was awed by the statuary. I was excited to see Everett Dirkson on the Senate floor. Yes, I am aware that some scoundrels have served in Congress. And yes I am aware that some shameful legislation has been passed there. But to me it is nonetheless sacred. This week that sacred space has been desecrated and my heart is breaking.

Yesterday I was talking with a woman well-versed in the Twelve Step program. She was discussing some blaming she had been doing but then said “But if I name it, I have to wear it.” This was a reminder to me of the great spiritual challenge I am facing subsequent to the attack on the Capital.

Years ago, I wrote to the great psychologist Carl Rogers, arrogantly believing I had found a flaw in his theory centering around the therapist being angry with the client. He wrote back challenging me to face the judgment I was making of the client, in essence suggesting that I too was part of the problem.

All the spiritual approaches I embrace — from Carl Jung’s psychology (facing one’s Shadow) to the Twelve Step program (“If you’re pointing your finger at someone, just remember that the rest of your fingers are pointing back at you”) to Christianity “Love your enemy”) — now challenge me to face something that makes me shudder. I have to face and embrace the Donald Trump within me.

There are a number of people whom I dearly love and who are Trump supporters. I ask those people as well as other readers this: if you wish to respond to this posting in support of Donald Trump, I will read your words with respect. However, I would also respectfully point out to you what this posting challenges you to do — to look within and to find the Joe Biden within you.

Shadow work has been a challenge. Yes, I have tried to face the Darth Vader within me. I have tried to find within me that which I quickly judge in others. I can even acknowledge that, yes, there may be themes I have in common with the guy wearing the antlers or the other guy arrogantly sitting in Pelosi’s chair, a crumbled American flag nearby. (Do you hear my judgment sneaking in there?) But the idea of acknowledging common ground with Donald Trump repulses me. Yet that is what I am called to do if I truly believe the principles mentioned above.

I’ve come to see that doing Shadow work does not mean I am excusing someone’s behavior. God is a God of compassion but He/She is also a God of justice. And so those who invaded the Capitol as well as those who encouraged them to do so must all be held accountable.

And so as I reflect on Donald Trump, I have to face and admit my own arrogance. I have to face and admit that I too have coveted power. I have to admit that I too have lied to protect myself. I too have disrespected others to inflate my own ego. These are all character defects within me that I am called to face and heal. It would be much easier for me to settle into a place of anger and judgment.

Loving my enemy does not mean that I should start wearing a MAG hat. It does mean that I should pray for a man I find repulsive. It means I should pray for his healing and for him finding some inner peace. The words choke in my throat like swallowed sand. But then Shadow work or 12-step work or Christian practice are never really easy.

REFLECTION: How have the attacks on the Capitol affected you spiritually or otherwise?