I wrote the segment below based on prison work, yet it applies just as much to the disowned and masked parts of ourselves.

  • What I don’t want to see, I can never solve.
  • What I can’t love in myself, I usually hate in others.
  • What I don’t want to look at in myself unconsciously drives my behavior.
  • What I don’t want to examine, limits my freedom.

An excerpt from Indivisible:

“In doing this [work in prisons], I became aware of the way we’ve pushed perceived undesirable people—the sick, the criminal, the elderly—into corners. And in pushing these people away—in ghettoizing them, in stereotyping them, in turning them into cartoons—we have blocked the problem from our day-to-day view. Society says that if you kill another person, you are never to be forgiven. But from their stories, I understood that almost every victimizer is also a victim. They still deserve our attention, love and healing.

Like a tumor, what isn’t examined persists. If ignored it will just keep growing, until it destroys its host. The severing and disconnection from the undesirable elements in society or in ourselves doesn’t solve anything, it just begets more of the same. Moreover, I felt in my bones that these men, as individuals, are scapegoats for our massive brokenness as a culture. We have pushed them into a box and refused to look at the culture we have built that is making them. They are the symptoms of our structural problems, made and grown collectively, not individually.

And it is not only criminals we have pushed away; we have pushed away the sick, the poor, the elderly; we have excluded anyone who doesn’t paint a rosy picture of a healthy, productive society. We refuse to look at our own shadows, even while they separates, wounds, and kills in countless ways. I think this is where our biggest potential as a culture lies.”

Shadow