Loading...

The Marianne Williamson Presidential Phenomenon

Cultural (R)Evolution in a Dangerous Time

by R. Michael Fisher (Author)
Monographs XXX, 326 Pages

Summary

The most important national election in U.S. history is underway. Marianne Williamson stepped-up to show she is confident to be president of the United States in 2020. She had to step down. Many people are supportive of her provocative healing vision for America, and that fan and voter-base is growing. She may run again in 2024. However, many are puzzled by her and many are critics on the Left and Right and in between. The book is a thorough case study of Williamson’s speeches, writings, and interviews. It documents and analyzes the thoughts and feelings of her supporters and critics based on what they have written, performed, and published. It records history while it is being made. The author offers support and criticism of how Williamson’s leadership and her team could have done things different so as to be more successful in the presidential campaign. The big idea throughout the book is to emphasize, as does Williamson’s teaching, that spirituality and politics ought never be separated completely (as religion and the State), if we truly desire more than mere reforms of society, but desire a transformation to a truly better and more liberated world. The book highlights productive guideposts for Williamson and other leaders like Williamson in future campaigns. It offers Americans, and others, a view of "what happened" in 2019-20 that made Williamson an outstanding phenomenon. Students, scholars, journalists, politicians, and the general public interested in the improvement of politics will want to study this book.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword by Rob Asghar
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Transformer for President(?): A Shocking Possibility
  • Politician or Not?
  • Book Overview
  • PART I The Phenomenon
  • 1 The Donald Trump Phenomenon
  • Trump and Talking about Fear: Coronavirus Epidemic
  • The Donald Trump Phenomenon
  • The New Age of Trumpism
  • 2 The Marianne Williamson Phenomenon
  • Contexts of Sensemaking
  • Williamson and Talking about Fear: Coronavirus Epidemic
  • Corona-Time: Do We Need an Epidemic of Williamson-Style Love?
  • Four Major Aspects of the Marianne Williamson Phenomenon
  • A. Inner Life (and Mysticism)
  • B. Leadership (Theory/Style)
  • C. Philosophy (and Theology)
  • D. Therapy (and Metaphysician)
  • 3 A Spiritual (R)Evolution Enters Politics
  • Spiritual (R)Evolution
  • Move On: Your History Needs You!
  • More than “Spiritual but Not Religious”: A Course in Miracles
  • New Age/New Thought Movement
  • Marianne Williamson and New Social Movements: 50+ Branches
  • PART II The Critique
  • 4 Donald Trump as Bad or as Evil?
  • Entering Fragilization as Discovery
  • Mirroring: Introduction of the Arch Rivals
  • “You’re Letting Evil In …”
  • Williamson’s Theological View on “Evil”
  • ‘You’re Letting in the Donald Trump Phenomenon’
  • The Twin Phenomenon: Shadow Projections
  • Making Something Useful Out of This Twin Phenomenon
  • 5 Systems Thinking Correction: Transformation of I and We
  • Introduction: From Political Sphere to Entering Politics
  • Self-Correcting Systems: Mind/Nation
  • Paradise Is Nice but There’s More Story to Tell
  • PART III The Lessons
  • 6 She’s Missing ‘The Right’ Six Words
  • Never Short on Words
  • ‘I Want to Be President of the United States’
  • Reflections: The Primaries Election Disconnect
  • 7 Some Lessons
  • Lesson Six: ‘Waking Up’
  • Lesson Five: Tweet Mindfully or Not At All
  • Lesson Four: Boomeritis Handicap
  • Lesson Three: Love vs. Fear Thing
  • Lesson Two: “Faux Spirituality”
  • Lesson One: Playing Psychiatrist
  • Index

←x | xi→
Acknowledgments

I wish I could recall who was the first friend and/or colleague it was who, around 1993 or so, said to me, as I was sitting in the In Search of Fearlessness Center and Research Institute probably writing out quotes on fear and fearlessness from my library collection, “Hey, you might want to check out the work of Marianne Williamson; she writes about Love and Fear.” After that, history unfolded, and I am ever grateful to that person for making this connection. I also wish I could recall the exact moment of inspiration that my unconscious spoke to my conscious mind, “Hey, Marianne is running for the Democratic party leadership and hoping to be President, maybe you ought to follow her journey.” I thank Marianne Williamson for stepping up to the plate and making her voice better known in a dangerous time, where the ancient wisdom she knows well may find a new home in the contemporary political sphere. I want to acknowledge all the journalists, writers, podcasters, bloggers who have contributed indirectly to this book, as their articles and interviews, be they more pro or con, offered me quick access to important information I could harvest. Your work made mine a whole lot richer and easier.

With humble gratitude to the ancestral peoples, plants and animals, of this region known as the Canadian prairies where I grew up, your presence absence ←xi | xii→while I read and wrote many hours in my office was a steady background of sanity I could not have done well without.

Thanks to Rob Asghar for working with me and trusting my intentions for this book. I appreciated from the start you saw through my sometimes fervent critiques of Williamson’s campaign and American society. You saw below the surface, where good critique is ultimately a beginning stage for possible offerings to improve leadership and politics in this world. Your Foreword as a poetic and poignant story is meant to be told—it is exactly an example of one of the co-creating aspects of what I have labeled the Marianne Williamson Phenomenon.

Lastly, I thank my readers, Barbara Bickel, Dan McKinnon, Nonye T. Aghanya, Randy Auxier, and Sheldon Solomon. Your gracious offering to hang-in there with my manuscript as it was taking shape inspired me to continue. And to Rafiq (aka Robert Sean Lewis), Madelainne K. Joss, Robert Sardello, David Spangler, Jack Miller your encouraging early insights helped; and an especially big hug and appreciation to Elizabeth Lange for your nuanced comments for improving my nascent journal article draft soon to be finished in the months ahead, “Marianne Williamson: Adult Educator in Dark Times.”

←xii | xiii→
Foreword by Rob Asghar

It has been said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Some have ascribed this aphorism to the 18th century political philosopher Edmund Burke, others to the 19th century philosopher John Stuart Mill, and it may well represent an imprecise amalgam of their ideas. It has nonetheless become a common trumpet call for people of goodwill to enter the political arena.

A good American woman courageously stepped forth in November, 2018 with a strong intention to pursue national office in order to address the rising evils she saw in our world: Marianne Williamson, the popular self-help author and speaker, who had spent decades preaching and teaching based on the new-age book A Course in Miracles,1 was about to attract a good deal of attention in the political arena.

Williamson’s concern for the state of the planet, for the plight of the poor and for the redressing of injustices, has been and still is admirable. Her bold denunciation of “dark forces” that perpetuate evil is laudable. And her call for a transformation of our souls and our society makes her an ideal case study, as R. Michael Fisher notes in these pages, regarding “how to apply ‘other-worldly’ thinking to repair mainstream society.”

←xiii | xiv→

The paradox, as Dr. Fisher and others have observed, is that Williamson’s political style represents a sharp break with the idyllic spiritual other-worldliness of A Course in Miracles, and with her own lesser politically imbued past.

I first saw Williamson speak in 1988. She was building an immense grassroots following in Los Angeles. For several years, I attended her weekly talks and acquired cassette tapes of her lessons to ponder while on my unending L.A. commutes. I was impressed with the rigor of her spiritual knowledge and practice—the unconditional acceptance of others, the refusal to judge, and especially the remarkable emphasis on preemptive forgiveness.

For Williamson and The Course, the suffering of the world represented a delusional misunderstanding of true reality and an unwillingness to yield to its higher dimensions. At that moment in her journey, her motto could have been, roughly, “If you’re angry and outraged by others, you’re not paying attention to the truth about them or about yourself.”

After making it a point to attend her talks again years later, paradoxically, I heard her repeatedly point to political and social strife and say, “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” She justified this as love’s moral outrage. By that stage, she had run a failed 2014 congressional campaign, was beginning to become an avid campaigner for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, and was only a few years away from launching her own bid for national office.

This is not to say that her new worldview was unjustifiable, but mainly to point out that it represents a u-turn from the discipline of unconditional acceptance that she promoted and preached for years.

Many social justice activists would find The Course far too detached and fuzzy for their tastes, and would find Williamson’s newly militant mindset to be a wonderful sign of progress. For such persons, there is a special place in heaven for a Jeremiah, an Amos or a Micah, those Old Testament prophets who thundered moral denunciations at the people for their wickedness. These activists would sniff at the restrained wisdom of the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous serenity prayer; instead, they would likely exclaim, with radical activist Angela Davis, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”2

*****

There is, however, the issue of whether a Jeremiah or Amos or Davis would even make an effective senator or president.

The legend of Moses as a leader is an outlier, depicting as it does a person who shuns the mantle of authority but has it thrust upon him anyway by none other than the Living God he served.

←xiv | xv→

But prophets on the whole do not tend to make good leaders, because theirs is the role of the uncompromising critic, while leaders of institutions must accommodate the moral messiness of the world each new morning, choosing to lose some fights in order to win others. “There are no Mother Teresas in this business,” a successful, long-time university president once told me. “We’re all a bunch of whores, compromising our principles all the time just to make it to the next day.”

The moral compromises of conventional organizational leadership are even more pronounced—as humans have noticed and rued for thousands of years—within the fragrant muck of contemporary divisive politics.

What shall we make of the person who believes she can enter into the muck and change it without being changed by it? Is such a person noble or naive? Dr. Fisher’s inquiry invites us to engage these kinds of questions, and encourages us not to choose only one or the other as simple binaries, but more to approach, with fragile sensitivity, a path of critical inquiry that holds the noble and naive as always close cousins.

*****

Leadership is hell, I have argued for many years, even titling a book thusly. My research and experience shows the pursuit and maintenance of power tend to represent a Faustian bargain: A person seeks a throne or position of authority, often rationalizing that the world will be better when she receives it. However, that quest is often ruinous, and rare is the story of a person who attains power, uses it wisely, then let’s go of it willingly.3 Some have argued that the Roman general Cincinnatus and George Washington are among the few in the Western tradition to have done so. Yet, soberingly, Tolkien’s Gollum may represent the fate of most leaders’ souls.

Still, “Kings are the slaves of history,” Tolstoy wrote. History uses the vanity of leaders to get where it needs to, then leaves them at the side of the road.

I have come to suspect that it may not even be enough to say that leadership is a devil’s bargain. That may misrepresent the chronology. Those who actively seek power may already be embedded in a sort of personal hell, which tends to inflate their need for achievement and recognition. Seductively, they come to believe that their own salvation will come from saving others.

I believe Thomas Merton captured the challenge well more than a half-century ago:

A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all ←xv | xvi→around him,” he wrote. “Even when he tries to do good to others his efforts are hopeless, since he does not know how to do good to himself. In moments of wildest idealism he may take it into his head to make other people happy: and in doing so he will overwhelm them with his own unhappiness. He seeks to find himself somehow in the work of making others happy. Therefore he throws himself into the work. As a result he gets out of the work all that he put into it: his own confusion, his own disintegration, his own unhappiness.4

*****

In this book, Dr. Fisher sympathetically captures the highs and lows, the passion and the unhappiness, of Marianne Williamson’s quixotic quest.

In a previous, other-worldly incarnation in the 1980s and early 1990s, Williamson chided those who would condemn their brothers, sisters, parents and bosses. However, pulled by her own distresses, in her worldly and combative incarnation, she rallied, as Dr. Fisher notes here, against (in Williamson’s words) “corporate fat cats and their errand boys in government”—displaying little respectful sympathy for human organizational change and complexity in the 21st century.

To the impatient and righteous, her new approach is invigorating. However, I would argue that such rally cries only increase the contagion of conflict which Merton spoke of. It leaves the leader only more frustrated and embittered. The rejected rescuer will inevitably judge those who fail to be rescued.

“Do you want to improve the world?” Lao Tzu asks, in Stephen Mitchell’s wonderful paraphrase of the Tao te Ching: “I don’t think it can be done ….The world is sacred. It can’t be improved. If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it. If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.”5

The 13th century mystic-poet Rumi seemed to speak to a similar notion of reality, saying, in Coleman Banks’ rendering,

When you think your father is guilty of an injustice, his face looks cruel. Joseph, to his envious brothers, seemed dangerous. When you make peace with your father, he will look peaceful and friendly. The whole world is a form for truth. When someone does not feel grateful to that, the forms appear to be as he feels. They mirror his anger, his greed, and his fear. Make peace with the universe. Take joy in it. It will turn to gold. Resurrection will be now. Every moment, a new beauty.6

From Lao Tzu to Jesus to Rumi, to aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba to A Course in Miracles via author Helen Schucman, mystical leaders and their traditions have ←xvi | xvii→represented a turning away from deep engagement in politics. Of course this may be frustrating to many spiritually inclined social-justice activists, who often find something in their masters’ texts that sanctifies or at least rationalizes an obsession with worldly combat. Marianne Williamson did just that.

Yet these traditions are other-worldly for a reason. Williamson calls for an “integrative” approach, spirituality and politics, other-worldly and worldly, based on love; yet her own political journey shows how difficult this is to achieve.

For Lao Tzu, the prophets need not rail at the people, and the leaders need not play heroes, rescuers or saviors. Instead, the wise person returns to her center, to the primal state of the cosmos, and in so doing helps others to return to the center.7 Therefore, her highest service is to model serenity and compassion, and in that right way of a higher aim, one brings serenity, rather than conflict, to the world. In the process, a great leader humbly brings a measure of heaven to earth.

The great mystics of history did not reject the world. They lived in it loosely and freely, according to higher principles, rejecting the prison cells into which would-be saviors or rescuers necessarily enter. Williamson’s early years as a teacher and student of the wisdom traditions seemed to follow this approach, yet she found it wanting and changed tone and tactics. This may illustrate Lao Tzu’s point: “The moral man does something, and when no one responds he rolls up his sleeves and uses force.”8

Each person who seeks healing for the world must make difficult choices regarding which approach to take: That of the warrior or the mystic; that of the angry Jeremiah or the serene Buddha. The substantial risk for those who opt eagerly for the first approach is that they will dive headlong into the toxicity of our political systems, expecting to change them, and instead are changed for the worse themselves. As Don Quixote’s niece warned him, “Many go for wool and come back shorn.”9

Lessons here are to be learned, for her, for all of us. Marianne Williamson’s own story has certainly not ended. It is a remarkable one, with much that is instructive and some that is problematic, a cautionary for all leaders. Dr. Fisher has done us a service by helping us understand that story to this point.

Rob Asghar

Leadership Strategist,

Author and Columnist

Chicago, IL

June 2020

←xvii | xviii→

Notes

1. Foundation for Inner Peace (1976). A Course in Miracles. Foundation for Inner Peace.

2. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7767240-i-am-no-longer-accepting-the-things-i-cannot-change

3. See Asghar, R. (2014). Leadership is hell: How to manage well—and escape with your soul. Figuero Press; and Asghar, R. (2020). Marianne Williamson tumbles to earth, and a legacy is tarnished. Forbes Magazine, retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/robasghar/2020/03/05/marianne-williamson-tumbles-to-earth-and-a-legacy-is-tarnished/#159f79761850

4. Merton, T. (2002). No man is an island. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, p. 121 [originally published in 1955].

5. Mitchell, S. (2007). Tao Te Ching (CD, Chapter 29). Harper Perennial.

6. Rumi, Jalal Al-Din. (2004). The essential Rumi (re-issue). HarperCollins, p. 239. [originally published in 1995]

7. From Williamson’s (1992) most famous passage: “As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Williamson, M. (1992). A return to love: Reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles. HarperCollins, p. 191.

8. Mitchell (2007), Chapter 38.

9. Excerpt from https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Don_Quixote_(Cervantes,_Ormsby)_Volume_1.djvu/147

←xviii | xix→
Preface

[S]omething has gone seriously wrong with everyone’s [security] images and models.

Robert J. Lifton1

As a deep thinker and conscious citizen (Canadian), I have many things in common with and many things in conflict with my subject(s): American society, and a typical (albeit, uniquely inspirational) American citizen named Marianne Deborah Williamson (1952-). With its upside and downside, not being born and raised American comes through in this book. My other identity particularities are also problematic.2 Basically, I am a critic of my own country as much as America; yet, America takes everything to the extreme. In the extremes (and margins) I have always found the more interesting phenomenon of evolution to rub up against and learn from.

America and Americans, like Williamson require not just critique, they require insights and support from others, especially outside of their own silos and the inevitable blind spots. Having recently lived in America for nine years and having many friends and colleagues there, I have learned that American’s don’t like to be critiqued from “outsiders.” Who does? Americans are touchy these days. Who isn’t? The world and the American empire is in big trouble and most ←xix | xx→everything can be perceived as a threat when the intention to offer useful criticism is mis-read, or worse.

So, I have prepared myself to write about the tense situation. What things I critique about America or Americans in this text are arrows that could just as easily u-turn and be applicable to Canada or myself. I have come to terms with that, and with that responsibility at hand, no matter what reactions come toward the book, my country or me, I’ll assume they have some justifiable cause. As an educator by profession, I am committed to learn from the arrows what I can. It is a cliché: America has the best and the worst. America has fascinating, and troubling, leaders. Yet, I prod and push around that saying “the best and the worst” for more juice than it typically delivers. I loathe stereotypes and their ability to freeze out authentic dialogue and inquiry for deeper truths beneath the surface of things. Williamson and I share that pet peeve and interest.

For nearly 30 years, I have been aware of her philosophy and ambitions. Like Rob Asghar (Foreword), and many others, I have pondered systematically her leadership trajectory, and simultaneously questioned my own, including the validity of my ideas and actions: Have I made my life purposeful in a useful way to the betterment of our species and the planet’s ecological health and sustainability for seven generations? Could I have done better? To assess my life I have had to compare it to role models, whom I (and others) consider those of highest quality as great images of (s)heroes. The fact Williamson was born in my generation and in the same year is more than a little compelling to make comparisons.

Compelling or not, I have neither written this book for me, nor for Williamson either. It is especially for those who have followed her for years and/or in the 2020 American election cycle, be they fans or enemies or in between—they and their numbers are growing and substantive. They have the real power to speak out, vote, and to carry on a movement bringing forward the best of what humans can be. For fans or enemies, I believe there are provocative lessons from all life events. The phenomenon I write of here which has grown in and around Williamson is remarkable. And, it is in that reality of remarkability that it also requires in depth analysis and documentation. There are critical lessons awaiting, some already known, many not yet revealed. As researcher-writer-journalist, I put my finger on the jugular vein as I synthesize one story of what has happened and, I speculate what may still happen. I look through the lens of the Marianne Williamson Presidential Phenomenon as a whole system of complex interrelations—an ecology of deep values, beliefs, worldviews and thinking—stirring and clashing—now that, is what intrigues me most.

←xx |
 xxi→

What has been, and still is, happening around her? Ultimately, I have written this book for history (not just American history), which is unfolding in flames right now, and a whole lot of us are feeling and thinking our way through this challenge of living and dying in the Anthropocene era of major cascading global crises—whether, you believe they are “man-made” or not—whether you believe our species extinction is immanent or not. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic “on” at the moment of completing this book, there is no one who is free from being affected (even President Donald Trump and his “no mask” iconography). And, there is no one who is not sensing our species is in big trouble if we don’t make some major changes in the way we carry on “business” and governance and the average life-style of the modern citizen. Of course, interpretations of the causes of that big trouble will line up along a wide spectrum of differences—and “isms” and conflicts. Yet, there are common views still to be harvested amongst that battle and blame-game politics.

I can only speak to North America(ns) and somewhat the West and North globally, because that’s where I have lived, researched, and dedicated my existence to caring for a home for my children and grandchild. And, that’s where I have come to know the greater-than-human species that have been around many times longer than I have—my wise ancestors on this land. I give thanks to their enabling me to have come to this privileged place, and time, and may they offer me the spirit of fearlessness to carry forth a “good message,” even if I have made errors in delivering it. This book was created quickly due to historical events, so it is not perfectly everything I would want to say, and my writing ability to express deep thoughts and feelings are also thus compromised no doubt by my analytic and individual (poor working class) style at times, my lack of training and a top-notch education in the elite higher education schools, and my own agendas at times that may get in the way. All that, nonetheless, I offer this book as a guide to the future and with intention that it may be non-partisan politically, religiously, ideologically.

Sure, I have my leanings to the left and progressive ideas, but there are also great ideas on the right which I, like Williamson, do not shuffle off as only “other” and to be “dissed” on the way to the garbage bin. History and evolution do not unfold because of left and right political or ideological preferences, thank goodness for that! We need diversity of views on how “best” to live, and no more is that required than today with such strife building to very dangerous levels. We need competent mature leaders as bridge-builders, and many I have studied who are in this book, believe Williamson is that kind of loving person, with strong views, but also a basic human decency that is at her political and ethical core of ←xxi | xxii→what it means to be a human being and treat others along the lines of the universal Golden Rule.

Writing about history and politics, which this current book is about, has not been my usual course of study and action to bring about positive change, restoration and healing, with possibilities of transformation and liberation for our species. Writing about religion and spirituality, which this book is also about, has likewise not been my specialty. Yet, I wanted to play intellectual biographer, journalist and write a good case study, a good story, of a fascinating person, a great leader. When I reflect on articles and books I have written (not always published) since the early 1970s that I loved doing most, they were books on special topics and species: wild orchids, polar bears, great blue herons, snowy owls, great educators (outside of the field of Education proper), Ken Wilber, Four Arrows, and now Marianne Williamson. I love studying the ecology of predators, and sacred warriors.

Many have criticized me for poking holes in some of the best leaders of the progressive community (Wilber, Four Arrows, Williamson), and I have wondered why I do that. Why don’t I just criticize the opponents on the other-side? I think it is because they are too easy of a target, and it’s boring. I am more interested in the subtle “faults” of my-side, that is, the progressives—because, I have seen lots to admire but lots to challenge as well. I guess I want my-side to “grow up” and mature as best it can to better be able to engage with the other-side—for only then, really, will our species and culture as a whole make much progress. Opposites become complementarities, that is, an ancient law of my ancestors. That’s the main assumption for my writing projects. And, with Williamson, I have risked more than with the other books because she is a fairly well-known celebrity and more so has stepped up onto the political stage of American politics and history. It must be a vulnerable thing to do for her and it certainly feels vulnerable for me to write about her and the phenomenon she’s become part of.

A little of my history: in essence, I am an artist who thinks differently on most things, but professionally I’m an educator devoted to true education, not propaganda—the latter, which keeps people in their chains. Yet, schools I taught in from primary grades to universities, were my nemesis not my allies to bring about such an idealistic curriculum agenda. I learned the rules of regimes of power-knowledge-fear and politics that control the field of Education (and society). It makes me livid. Rebelling all the way, I eventually dropped out rather than choosing to work within those systems. The 1960s–70s spirit of (r)evolution was always and still is in my veins. I could have tried harder to climb to the seats of power within them to bring about the right changes. Rather, I became a critic and ←xxii | xxiii→was quickly exiled from the very institutions I had dedicated my life purpose to improve. Something had gone wrong in my image and models of emancipation, and my career.

With experience and maturity and further study of the human condition, across many disciplines beyond what the field of Education had to offer, I encountered many great researchers and writers, often futurists, with awakening ideas and vision of a “better way” for our societies to evolve than the current mess we’re in. I realized something had gone wrong long before my career track fizzled. As an independent thinker and scholar, I penned my first major tome, after 25 years of research and living in the insidious reality of a fear-based world, with a favorite line in the Introduction that says everything and says nothing (in detail): Something is wrong in the field of fear management.3 Recently re-reading Robert J. Lifton, the eminent American psychiatrist, psychohistorian and thanatologist, with the opening quote of this Preface, reminded me that I have come to watch and listen to politics with a discerning method, adding my own twist on it, that Indigenous elders have called “two-eyed seeing.”4 My method is madness in a way. It is destabilizing psychologically. Yet, I see no other sane way to study and learn from politics, and the current American election cycle, a case among cases for madness on many levels.

Lifton’s quote, with my own, points to two ways of “seeing” history and politics and the social psychology that affects everyone’s life. It is a lens I carry into this book by which I observe and interpret phenomenon like Donald Trump, Marianne Williamson and where the world is heading in general. The first lens: I observe the world like most everyone else by “news” of what is happening, virus vs. medical experts, activist-protest and police-military-government suppression, Democrats vs. Republicans, blacks vs. whites, on and on … whatever the daily drama and conflict is in institutions, in the streets or in the publications that tell the juicy “stories” of what is (supposedly) going on. For two years I have studied the current American election cycle, seduced by the fascination with Marianne Williamson juxtaposed in running for political leader (possible President) with Donald J. Trump.

This first half of my perceptual gaze is thus the lens of theatre. I see the spectacle and “play” and how people respond to it, much like Williamson has pegged the world of politics in America as “two” political spheres. I record it and compare my own responses. However, that is ultimately dissatisfying. My inner critic cannot remain dulled or deluded by narratives from the theatre. The scientist-artist-psychologist-educator training pushes out of the envelop, and part of myself wants something more from that “normal” story so many people spin. I sort through ←xxiii | xxiv→the narratives, the discourses of power-knowledge-values, and search for gems. Soon, patterns emerge that have possibility for something new and educative. Patterns of more than entertainment, and patterns of more than making us all more scared. That becomes more challenging everyday as the crises and emergencies being crafted by media, corporations, governments, elites and ideological groups vie for attention and seek power-over everyone else.

This second lens: sees everything people and institutions are doing as attempts to live out images of the way they think things should be, and even will deny the way things are. “We live on images,” wrote Lifton.5 The images, become metaphors, become ideologies and even policies and structures supposed to guide us like a good map. But the maps have gone seriously wrong. This second lens sees everything as fear/terror management attempts. It sees near everything as afraid of chaos and desperately scrambling to create order—and, nothing works so well for order in one’s mind or in a society or nation or world as “security stories,” based around death imagery and life-continuity imagery, as Lifton’s research has shown, of which the recent study of history has also shown to be based on a dynamic of “security tales.” I am referring to Derber & Magrass who wrote a fascinating book on “moving beyond fear”6 as a possible route for re-creating order that avoids (theoretically) the terrible pitfall they found in history (especially in America): where attempts to construct and distribute “security stories” was one big irony of failure in that those very attempts historically created insecurity which imperils the citizens and nations in the end. Their summative analysis of much of history and politics is pretty much my own summary conclusion of the nature and role of what sociologists have dubbed for decades, the “culture of fear.”

Details

Pages
XXX, 326
ISBN (PDF)
9781433179631
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433179648
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433179655
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433179303
Language
English
Publication date
2021 (February)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XXX, 326 pp.

Biographical notes

R. Michael Fisher (Author)

R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D. is an artist-educator, philosopher, and fearologist, currently on faculty at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. He specializes in holistic human development. His major tome is The World’s Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century.

Previous

Title: The Marianne Williamson Presidential Phenomenon