Follow Me on Social Medias

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the 2020 resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, I ponder what the archetype of Truth has to contribute to the social justice dialectic. How does Truth matter to the healing of personal and intergenerational trauma? We know that trauma lives in the body of those who have been oppressed and exploited, hindering their ability to become wholly human with a secure sense of belonging. Issues of social justice are concerned with problems of power and oppression. Who is the oppressor? Ah that is the question. Our minds easily turn to images of the slave and slave owner, to capitalism and those impoverished by capitalism, or the literal and figurative colonization of certain groups. Let us go deeper, however. What is the psychic construct of the oppressor? On account of their narcissistic wound, the oppressor fails to empathetically value the reality of another.

Any time we willfully insist that our reality is more correct, more proven, more useful, more worthy than the reality of another we are the oppressor. Social justice occurs and healing begins when we make room for and exert empathy for the reality of another, including those despised aspects of ourselves. When we deny the light of truth its power to illuminate our interrelatedness, we enact a sort of cruelty. Much of that cruelty is stored in our bodies in traumatic ways and is somatised as illness or neurotic behavior. Russell A. Lockhart (1983) in Words as Eggs: Psyche in Language and Clinic eloquently speaks to this cruelty.

“So, I turned to the body … Then it seemed to me that one of the places we hear psyche least is in the area of relationship. It is here that the wounded and wounding ego speaks loudest of all. In my own experience of relationship difficulties and in studying the phenomena of relationship with others, I found that the most crucial problems of relationship stemmed most often from “not telling.” In working on the implications of this, I came to the conclusion that “eros means telling” and that “an eros relationship means that one is able to tell the other person the reality of one’s experience over its full range and to tell it in a personal way … We often hesitate to tell for fear we will hurt the other person, or that the other can’t take it, or will take it wrong, or will run away. That is when we wrongfully wound another person; that is cruelty … The most cruel thing is to withhold our reality from one another.”

Then a dream forced upon me the realization that we do not hear psyche’s speech at all in our words, that our words are forever encrusted with ego’s frenzied and faddish babble… the dream said, that “words are eggs” and have [sic] urged an eros relationship to words by following the connections that come imaginally when we begin to break the shell of words, thereby awakening and freeing the hidden psyche. ”

— (Lockhart, 1983, pp. 4-5)

The oppressor insists that their projected ideations of another are true. The oppressor has neither empathy nor tolerance for anything other than their will for another person, a place, or a thing. The oppressor may act in ways that are chronic and pervasive. More commonly, the oppressor appears in waves of blinded self-centeredness among even the best of us.

In this passage Psyche is the totality of our conscious and unconscious selves. Eros can be understood as the archetype of love. Truth is truth. Regarding social justice, in addition to Russell’s comments, I am mindful of how we wound each other when we demand that others speak only the language we want to hear so we can avoid wrestling with our own wounds or shadows and avoid being challenged to tolerate something other than our perspective or experience. Where personal relationships, family systems or social systems fail at truth and honoring the other they will fail at justice. Truth telling requires we get beyond the frenzied and faddish babble of our ego’s defensive response to its fears and give loving attention to unpacking the symbolic truth of our realities, our words and our ideologies so we can all be nourished. How do we see beyond ourselves to lovingly see the truth of you and you and you.

The Guests (Cohen, 1979) is a powerful invocation for receiving the truth of all those who are guests in our lives, including aspects of our own being that are not always welcome in the public sphere.

“One by one, the guests arrive
The guests are coming through
The open-hearted many
The broken-hearted few
And no one knows where the night is going
And no one knows why the wine is flowing
Oh, love I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you, oh
I need you now
And those who dance, begin to dance
Those who weep begin
And “welcome, welcome” cries a voice
”Let all my guests come in”
And no one knows where the night is going
And no one knows why the wine is flowing
Oh, love I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you, oh
I need you now
And all go stumbling through that house
In lonely secrecy
Saying “do reveal yourself”
Or “why has thou forsaken me?”
And no one knows where the night is going
And no one knows why the wine is flowing
Oh, love I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you, oh
I need you now”

— The Guests, Leonard Cohen, 1979

See the Madrid concert 2012

and the 1979 official version


Cohen, Leonard. (1979). The guests. Hollywood, CA: Columbia.

Lockhart, Russell A. (1983). Words as eggs: Psyche in language and clinic. Dallas, TX: Spring.