The Chrysalis CrisisWe all lose when women are abused, suppressed, and deprived the seats of power.

Like Oprah said, “the time is up!” No more sexually abusing and harassing women. No more keeping silent about it. No more giving them unequal pay or imposing beliefs that require they cover themselves up and accept a secondary status to men. But most importantly, no more denying them positions of political and corporate power, because their lack of influence in the decisions that get made in how we use resources or engage other countries may ultimately lead to the destruction of our planet.

Women bring a necessary balancing effect to the predominant masculine way we’ve been running our world. That masculine approach has favored the attributes of aggression, competition, and dominance. But these are not always the best ways of addressing critical world concerns.

It’s a little like the saying, if your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. Might and the exertion of physical power aren’t always the right way to “hammer” out problems. They can lead to aggression and war. Competition leaves winners and unhappy losers, and dominance eventually incites rebellion.

While Darwin was right—it’s the strong who survive—strength is not predominantly found in the province of physicality. We’ve learned that strength can be expressed intellectually, emotionally, socially, morally, and spiritually. And we need all forms of strength in our toolkit to solve today’s problems. However, men and women are more naturally inclined to favor certain forms of strength. That’s why it’s important to have equal representation of men and women in positions of power.

One wonders how many times in history certain problems might have been more effectively solved with a feminine approach instead of the masculine one taken? Was aggression and war the only answer? Would an approach that favored non-violence have achieved better results? Gandhi and Martin Luther King would have thought so.

Would cooperating rather than competing, or being compassionate and executing restraint rather than jumping into aggressive action, have gotten the job done? Might we have achieved better outcomes if we had sought to understand, listen, or just “let it be?”

In my forthcoming book The Chrysalis Crisis, I make reference to Jungian psychologist June Singer’s research on androgyny and its relevance to our identity growth. She suggests that men and women have both masculine and feminine characteristics. But some are more natural to one sex and less inclined by the other. In the latter case they’re considered auxiliary functions. However, Singer notes, as we become more conscious of our natural and auxiliary functions, we can learn when to appropriately employ each, and sometimes it’s our auxiliary functions that may be best suited for managing a given situation.

Men need to discover their more feminine nurturing potentials; learn when to be still and listen; when to be receptive and passive; when to cooperate and not compete; when not to be defensive; and when to be more compassionate and vulnerable.

Women need to know when to harness their aggression and turn it into appropriate assertion; how to take leadership; how to compete; when to take action; and how to be equally formidable on all fields of play.

Our world has long been influenced by the disproportionate dominance of the masculine approach to problem solving. This needs to change. But doing so will require identifying, valuing, and harnessing what women have to offer. We need to elevate the feminine, assure that the more natural female approach to problem solving is given equal influence with those of men.

Let’s not wait until we have a societal Chrysalis Crisis before we discover that a more balanced masculine and feminine approach is needed to achieve a harmonious and prosperous world.

The Wizard of Id

Chrysalis Crisis CharlottesvilleThe Wizard of Id

Pull back the curtain, expose the façade,
the emperor’s wearing no clothes.
Are you blinded by fear, overlooking what’s real,
not seeing what’s under your nose?

Intended appeals to your animal drives
will seduce your support for what’s wrong.
But a price will be paid for accepting the false
when your ears become deaf to truth’s song.

Don’t let your attention be drawn to the side,
that magician has skills that were honed.
He’ll distract you while dealing from under the deck,
beware if you’re trust what he moans.

He’ll sell you on one point, reverse what he states,
profess what’s convenient to say.
He’ll tell you that daylight is actually fake,
when shadows are taken away.

To knowingly tolerate lies and untruth,
your conscience will slowly erode.
You’ll muddy the compass that points you towards good,
get morally lost down the road.

Frank Pasciuti

One chapter in my forthcoming book is on moral growth. It’s called Driving Blind and deals with the influences that lead people to do or support what they “know” is wrong. It also defines what contributes to moral development, and what can muddy the clarity of your moral compass.

Hostiles and Charlottesville’s Chrysalis Crisis

It’s been three months since Charlottesville gained worldwide attention for the crisis that took place in our town. That’s when hate-filled outsiders invaded the city, spewed bigotry over the grounds, and brought chaos, violence, and death to our streets. We stood up to reject their opinions, but some were left wounded and dead.

The crisis has passed now and most have adjusted, but others still struggle to heal. Many wonder why the animosity arose, and what it will take to bring forth the healing. Last week, as part of the University of Virginia’s 30th annual Film Festival, I watched a movie that provided some clues to those answers. It’s called Hostiles, and it dramatized how hatred can arise and be healed.

The movie poignantly depicts how hatred takes over people’s hearts and minds, and leads them to commit violence and murder. Christian Bale plays the part of an embittered US Calvary officer who reluctantly agrees to accompany a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal lands in Montana. The few brutal scenes serve to underscore the trauma and loss that its characters undergo, how they emotionally and mentally wrestle with its residual effects, and how many carry guilt for the cruelty they inflicted.

One tormented person is the main character, Joe, the officer played by Bale, who maintains his ability to keep functioning despite his inner demons about his brutal past. He does so by rationalizing his behavior as just “doing his job.” But over time we see that this defense becomes increasingly more difficult to sustain.

At one point in the movie, another soldier approaches Joe while standing in a nighttime deluge of cold winter rain. He conveys that he can no longer handle his torments. When Joe suggests he come out of the rain, the friend says, “I can’t feel anything.” Initially, it seems the soldier is referring to not feeling the rain pouring onto his head, but to me, it revealed what he needed to heal. He needed to regain his capacity to feel. His heart had become as cold as that rain. He was numb, functioning like an emotional zombie, physically alive, but walking dead.

The emotional healing that is needed after a trauma is particularly difficult for a survivor, and the ability to experience all feelings is critical if that part of the healing is to occur. It not only enables the person to diffuse and work through the various feelings that resulted from the impact of the trauma, but it keeps his heart open. That helps him be capable of empathizing, having compassion, and even being able to move toward forgiving his perpetrators. In addition to emotional healing, there may be a need for physical healing, a change in intellectual beliefs, or a change in moral or spiritual understanding.

These are all key areas of growth I discuss in my book, The Chrysalis Crisis, How Life’s Ordeals Can Lead to Personal and Spiritual Growth. In it I examine ten key areas of development where an individual might need to grow in order to heal after a crisis. Although it can be a struggle to attain, development in these key areas can lead to greater happiness in life.

When growth is prompted by a crisis, I refer to the ordeal as having served as a Chrysalis Crisis. Just as a butterfly’s struggle to free its wings from the cocoon also strengthens them for flight, the struggle to free oneself from the impact of a crisis can contribute to growth and transformation. And that can aid the individual for the rest of their flight through life.

Whether crises arise from racial hatred and intolerance of the ‘other,’ as in Hostiles, or they arise from religious differences, greed, power, or the other lower expressions of human potentials, remember, we also have access to our higher potentials, too. So if you wish to heal from a crisis, or avoid contributing to bringing one about, keep the words of Mahatma Ghandi in mind. He said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”