It’s Father’s Day. For the few who pay attention to it, it might mean a Hallmark Card and breakfast served. Check it off the list and we’re done.
But what if we used the day for a collective reflection on the importance of fathering, the issues involved, the list of the many ways we’ve failed and the list of the many ways we could—and should— do better? So in that spirit, I’ll dedicate this post to fathers and fathers-to-be and return to yesterday’s book (King, Warrior, Magician, Lover) to consider the role of the King archetype in both good fathering and good leadership. Which naturally includes by necessity a look at the damage caused by that King energy wrongly understood and thus, abused.
Some quotes to give background to the theme:
The king is the earthly conduit from the Divine World to this world, the mediator between the mortal and the divine. One of his roles is to bless, to mirror and affirm others who deserve his blessing, to see them— in a literal sense, in his audiences at the palace and in the psychological sense of noticing them, knowing them, in their true worth. Being blessed has tremendous psychological consequences for us— out bodies actually change chemically when we feel valued, praised and blessed.
Young men today are starving for blessing from older men. They need to be seen and when that happens, it heals and makes whole.
I’ve written before of my responsibility as a teacher to authentically praise and bless my students and though, as a mere mortal, I’ve often fallen short, I’ve also risen to it and received, without asking, the testimony from countless people that it made a difference. Often more than I ever imagined. Though I suffered from those elders or people in power who failed to see, know, value and bless me, I also benefitted tremendously by the few who did. My mentor Avon Gillespie, select other teachers and a few memorable moments from my own father (hard-earned, that one!).
So what happens when men (all people, of course, but again, the Father’s Day theme) don’t receive the blessings they deserve? Amongst other things, they don’t develop the capacity to bless and the unbroken chain of refusing to properly praise the young— including the young child within oneself— continues unchallenged, much to the detriment of both the individuals and the culture. And when someone rises to power that lives wholly in the shadow side of the King energy— alternately the Tyrant and the Weakling— it becomes a national style and collective disaster and the whole nation suffers Read this description of the Tyrant King and see if it helps you understand that the years 2016-2020 were not only a political disaster, but a deep psychological disaster, wounding each and every one of us.
The King energy in its fullness possesses the qualities of order, of reasonable and rational patternings, of integration and integrity in the psyche. It stabilizes chaotic emotion and out-of-control behaviors. It gives stability and centeredness. It brings calm. And in its fertilizing and centeredness, it mediates vitality, life-force and joy.
Order, reasoning, integration, integrity— just some of the things that went missing and continue to be absent in the political party that carries its loyalty to the Shadow King forward. Instead of stability, it’s all chaotic emotion and out-of-control behaviors. Instead of calm, it’s agitation, frenzy, turbulence, anxiety, violence. All purposely promoted by the tyrant/weaklings abusing their power and trust. As described in the book:
The Tyrant exploits and abuses other. He is ruthless, merciless and without feeling when he is pursuing what he thinks is his own self-interest. His lack of loyalty and degradation of others knows no bounds. (Note Trump’s comments on the crowd’s chant to hang Mike Pence.) He hates all beauty, all innocence, all strength, all talent, all life energy. He does so because he lacks inner structure and is terrified of his own hidden weakness and underlying lack of potency.
Many people in the corporate business world today are acting out their tyrant King, not at all interested in the companies they work for. There is no devotion or loyalty to the company, only to themselves. They negotiate for their own financial benefit, will willingly sell their company and have it dismembered, are willing to see their friends and loyal employees fired as excess baggage. (Again, look at the massive dismissals in the Trump White House.)
We can see the Tyrant King at work in the narcissistic personality disorder. These people feel that they are the center of the universe and others exist only to serve them. Instead of mirroring others, they insatiably seek mirroring from them. Instead of seeing others, they demand to be adored by them. …They are sensitive to criticism and rage like a toddler in a high chair when challenged.
On it goes, not only perfectly describing the ex-President and all his cronies still throwing their tantrums, but something to watch out for in all of us. The point here is not just to further illuminate the damaged character of the person elected to serve the nation, to understand better that the harm of living in the shadow of a Tyrant King is even deeper and more widespread than we thought, but to look at that dynamic at work in all of us and the unconscious ways we carry it forward. To consider that we can consciously refuse it, not by simply deposing and putting down the King energy, but as with the Warrior, transposing it to its life-giving dimension where it serves to unify, integrate and bless.
And so on Father’s Day, I’ll end with another quote to share with fathers everywhere, to encourage us to reflect on how we were fathered and make a conscious and determined decision as to how to do a better job ourselves (knowing the thousand ways we’ll constantly fail).
The Tyrant King energy shows in the father who makes war on his son’s (and daughter’s) joy and strength, their abilities and vitality. He fears their freshness, their newness of being and the life-force surging through them and he seeks to kill it. He does this with open verbal assaults and deprecation of their interests, hopes and talents, or he does it, alternately, by ignoring their accomplishments, turning his back on their disappointments and registering boredom and disinterest when they come home from school with a piece of artwork or a good grade on a test.
His attacks may not be limited to verbal or psychological abuse. They may include physical abuse or sexual assaults, exploiting his children’s weakness and vulnerability.
How were you fathered? If you are a father now, how are you fathering? After we answer those questions, enjoy your card and breakfast!