“You already feel the fist of the iron one on your back. This is the beginning of the way. If blood, fire, and the cry of distress fill this world, then you will recognize yourself in your acts: Drink your fill of the bloody atrocities of the war, feast upon the killing and destruction, then your eyes will open, you will see that you yourselves are the bearers of such fruit. You are on the way if you will all this. Willing creates blindness, and blindness leads to the way. Should we will error? You should not, but you do will that error which you take for the best truth, as men have always done.”
The Red Book by C.G. Jung, P. 254; Reader’s Edition P. 203.
I noticed the blood during my first reading of The Red Book, but I did not comprehend its prophetic significance until I read Lament of the Dead: Psychology after Jung’s Red Book. Fundamentally, what Dr. Jung was telling us is that we are “lived by the dead,” in the sense that the dead need our blood in order to play out the significance of the lives that went before.
Bundled into the fundamental idea is the sense that every culture calcifies, and it is only by blood that major change occurs. We can see many examples in recent history and current events. Psychiatrist Carl Jung learned from his own experiences that one can even predict when blood will be spilled. During Christmas night 1913 [eight months before the outbreak of World War I] he had a vision:
“I saw something terrible and incomprehensible … I saw the peasant’s boot, the sign of the horrors of the peasant war, of murdering incendiaries and of bloody cruelty. I knew to interpret this sign for myself as nothing but the fact that something bloody and dreadful lay before us. I saw the foot of a giant that crushed a whole city. How could I interpret this sign otherwise? I saw that the way to self-sacrifice began here. They will all become enraptured by these tremendous experiences, and in their blindness will want to understand them as outer events. It is an inner happening …
“May the frightfulness become so great that it can turn men’s eyes inward, so that their will no longer seeks the self in others but in themselves.”
The Red Book by C.G. Jung, P. 254; Reader’s Edition P. 203-04.
No one can doubt that the blood of World Wars I and II caused the German and Japanese peoples to change how they address the rest of the world. This was not because they were subdued by all of the deaths, but rather because those who survived had no choice but to look inward for their strength, and when they did they found something different from what they had been sold by their leaders before and during the wars, based on the cultures in place at the time.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew from his own vision, which he described the night before his murder that change would come to the racial situation in the United States only when a blood sacrifice was made. While our racial relations are certainly not where many of us would hope them to be 50 years after the “March on Washington” and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, they are certainly vastly different from where they were before that August afternoon in 1963.
As we look at many of the huge political controversies facing humanity, we can see that major change comes with blood. Many of us would like to see a change in our American attitude toward gun violence in our country. We know that the blood sacrifice of 26 innocents in Newtown, Connecticut last December was not enough to change the calcified attitudes of members of the National Rifle Association.
Dr. Jung explains why we have not seen more political change around gun control since the Newtown tragedy thusly:
“The masses as we know follow the law of their own inertia and seek, if disturbed, to restore the state of balance as speedily as possible, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.” C.G. Jung’s Commentary on Keyserling’s La Revolution Mondiale (May 13, 1934)[Collected Works, Civilization in Transition, Volume 10, P. 498].
Unfortunately, we must conclude that only when enough blood is shed, and the horrors have truly overwhelmed our sensibilities, only then will we see the changes so many of us yearn to see.
Looking out into the world today, we see many calcified attitudes, and much blood being shed. We can only hope that these many unfortunate killings will lead to significant introspection on all sides, which will once again lead us to an age of peaceful tolerance of one another.
One can easily see how we are lived by our dead from the actions of “The Virginia Flaggers,”http://cwmemory.com/2013/08/18/the-virginia-flaggers-have-overreached/ who are still posting Confederate flags along the I-95 corridor, to “restore the honor” of the Confederate Dead, 150 years after The Civil War. Presumably none of these people favors a reinstitution of slavery in this country, but the battle cries of old don’t die easily. When I was a boy in Norfolk, Virginia, The Virginian Pilot newspaper daily published little coupons throughout saying, “Save your confederate money, the South shall rise again.”
I have often wondered why there is not more about Dr. Jung’s activity during the war years. Perhaps it was because he knew the contents of the German soul from his many therapy clients, and he knew that wouldn’t be changed without blood, since that is the only way to change the collective unconscious.
It is not a question of arguing my point. Ask yourself, what political changes do we seek requiring blood before the changes we seek will be implemented? Here’s a short list: abortion rights; gay rights; tighter gun restrictions; women’s rights; and stricter penalties for driving while intoxicated.
In Japan there is zero tolerance for drunk driving. If you are caught with anything over zero liquor on your breath while driving, you lose your driver’s license for life. We used to kill about 25,000 on our roads every year because of drunk driving. Now, thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) forcing legislatures to act, that has improved, but we are still killing about 13,000 per year by drunk driving. To get to the level Japan achieved, more blood will be necessary—regrettably.
In 2007, I published a book called Tsunami of Blood. I imagined that if I sounded a warning about what I saw as a very bloody age, perhaps it could be averted. Dr. Jung has now explained to me through The Red Book why it couldn’t. But now, with millions of people dead in the Middle East and Afghanistan, we see rifts emerge among the inhabitants themselves. Those rifts could only emerge when enough blood was spilled. Only then could women shout into the ears of their warrior husbands, “Enough!”
Osama bin Laden viscerally knew that if he took down the World Trade Center, in a very bloody way, change would happen. He thought many would rally to his banner. And he was right! They did! But what also happened is that calcified ideas in the deep unconscious of his original sympathizers began to break apart, and that has caused blood feuds centuries old to be reignited between brothers. Rather than getting all of Islam rallying to his flag, he got himself and millions of his fellow travelers killed, not to mention the innocents of those lands.
It’s not a pretty prescription, and I point it out with a heavy heart. But it is clear that Dr. Jung was onto something when he started to encounter blood in The Red Book. Now it is for us to find ways to avoid spilling more and more innocent blood. Can we do it? Unfortunately, There Will Be Blood!
Painting Credit: Dr. Carl G. Jung, [I]The Red Book[/I] (Folio Edition), P. 91