If someone had a dream of the massacre of children; a mother slain by the son’s own hand who then takes his life, what would it mean?
As the world searches for answers – and perhaps new questions – in the wake of the slaughter in Connecticut, I struggle to imagine what I would do if I were sitting with the author of this dream.
“But this is no dream,” you cry. “This is a horrible reality.”
Yes, but as we search for meaning, exploring multiple dimensions of reality, including images from the unconscious mind, may be instructive.
If the dreamer of such a horrible nightmare came to me, I would begin by listening to the story, in every detail, simply honoring the level of horror. A Greek tragedy of such epic proportions, Sophocles could never have conceived of it, even in a culture that enslaved and exploited children.
Is this a possible theme: something is not being honored in the sacred child, in American culture, and in other cultures around the world. To honor the sacred in a child is not to “spoil” her, but to cherish her.
Perhaps I should use the pronoun “him”, since the perpetrators of recent massacres have all been young males. This begs the question:
is there a wound in the infantile masculine that runs so deep, and echoes of such rage, it finds expression in these heinous acts?
And, what do we mean by “the masculine”? Is it about gender, or about the spirit, the animus, the creative drive in all human beings that to flourish, requires the nourishment of the inner life.
Return to the dreamer. Was he or she “assaulted” as a child? Are the bullets in the dream symbolic of emotional attacks? Does this express the genesis of the dreamer’s profound self-hatred? If so, where does this hatred of the self come from? A boy who could never “fit in”, in a culture where not fitting in feels like emotional death?
Does the inner child of the dreamer still suffer from an undernourished soul? If so, how do we bring more of this nourishment into our relationships, our families, our schools, our art, games and communities?
Can we replace video violence and aggressive games with a new spirit of adventure that truly nourishes the soul? What would look like? It could take many forms, including creative art, rituals, journeys into nature, discovering new or your own neighborhood in the spirit of a life-long odyssey to redeem the Sacred, for our children, and for the child within every adult.
“Naïve”, you say. “Children growing up in poverty don’t have access to these enrichments.” True. But, the massacres did not take place in the inner city. They took place in the community forums of middle-class America: shopping malls, movie theaters, universities, high schools, elementary schools…
And, I may not be a question of shifting the form, ie, children can still play baseball, climb trees and have imaginal play. It is the motivation, the goal, and the content that needs to change, from a focus on prevailing, conquering, or getting esteem at all costs, to nourishing, honoring, and cherishing the growth of inner creative being.
Ironically, at least one of the young victims of the Connecticut massacre, the little girl called Emily, was, according to her Dad, “a wonderful artist; the kindest person I had ever known.”
Can we take full advantage of this global grief, to take action that goes to the archetypal roots of this slaughter? Yes, enact strict gun control laws! Yes, please, dear God, improve the mental health system!! And yes, address the other level, of reality, moving with power and conviction, to nourish the sacred child soul in us all.