The Military Metaphors of Our Daily Discourse

In my attempts to grasp some sense of the senseless murders of chidren and teachers at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT., I engage in a daily meditation on the question of what are the underlying unconscious dynamics which led to this horror. This evening I took part in Dr. Michael Conforti and Bonnie Bright’s teleseminar entitled “Beyond Horror and Hope: The Archetypal Intersection of Innocence and Evil.” Over 500 participants took part and had an opportunity to gain some depth psychological insight into the perennial and pervasive slaughter of innocents which takes place on a daily basis all over the globe. Comforti pointed out that there is an archetypal pattern of possession which overcomes an individual, such as Adam Lanza, and that no amount of agenda driven policy analysis will be able to prevent such horrors from taking place again and again in the future. Adam Lanza was lost a long time ago; his personality overcome by a primal force which many in the therapeutic community are labeling as pure “evil.” The conversation which was facilitated by the Assisi Institute and the Depth Psychological Alliance will resume next week. I will post links to their websites.

What concerns me tonight is our daily discourse—the language we appropriate and use regularly. The metaphors which we employ speak volumes; they are keys to our individual and collective unconscious. We need to become conscious of what we say, how we say, and how we color our language with emotion. Let’s start paying attention to the overabundant use of military metaphors in our day-to-day talk.

The usage of military metaphors dominant our daily discourse. For example, there is a war on terrorism, a war on poverty, we battle obesity, a war on drugs, and we protect our borders, fight traffic, and resolve family, marital, economic, and corporate conflicts. We battle climate change, are invaded by diseases, bolster immune systems, fight cancer, and surgeries are often invasive. We also fight illiteracy; defend family values, religion, God, tradition, morality, community, and so on. The word “occupy” is particularly fearsome to many of us whose families emigrated from Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and other Eastern European countries which were occupied by the Nazis and then the Soviet Russians. Occupy is not a benevolent concept by any means. It is an aggressive military metaphor.

So when you get in your car tomorrow and fight traffic to go to your workplace where you will battle with co-workers in order to defeat the competition, ask yourself the following question: “Are Adam Lanza, and others, who project their inner fight by using literal bullets an incarnation of our own battles and conflicts?”

“Peace on Earth and Goodwill” should never just be a pious platitude.

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