“How do you find a lion that has swallowed you?” asked Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, commenting on the moral dilemma posed by the “shadow,” his insightful term for the dark, hidden side of the human psyche. The answer to Jung’s questions is “you can’t find or see that lion”—not as long as you are inside the beast. And therein resides the essential dilemma of a group’s dark side or shadow: it is nearly impossible for those caught inside a group’s belief system to see their own dark side with any clarity or objectivity. This hidden side grows over time, regressing, becoming more and more aggressive. It’s the “long bag we drag behind us,” says poet Robert Bly—where, as individuals, we dispose of all those things that are too uncomfortable to look at. “The long-repressed shadow of Dr. Jekyll rises up in the shape of Mr. Hyde, deformed, an ape-like figure glimpsed against the alley wall.” Now imagine millions of Mr. Hydes and you have a sense of the group shadow of fundamentalist, right wing extremists dressed up as “compassionate conservatives,” led by George W. Bush. It’s like shifting from a hand gun to a nuclear bomb. And it began long ago in both the Moslem and Christian worlds.
The invasion of American Democratic institutions by fundamentalist, historically militant (as in crusades,[*] witch hunts, inquisitions, and support of slavery) Christianity has significantly increased the stench coming from the already disturbing dark side of U.S. politics. It’s like a nightmarish replay of the Christian crusades—politics with a militant, convert-the-heathens dark side. Potent, cult-like group dynamics combine with unacknowledged and unseen shadow qualities to easily overwhelm the individual’s sense of right and wrong, often unleashing pure evil en masse.