The United States, dissociation and Afghanistan (Flickr CC image: visionshare)

Scales of Dissociation

March 2, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Auto-Biography, Society

It is December 4.  Preparing to write this entry, I considered describing the process of working with Lee Goodman to create the video describing the December 1 and December 2 Afghanistan escalation protests occurring across the country.  Those of us working as facilitators with PJEP kept 1,500 local organizations across the country in touch with the other small organizations across the country conducting protests.  We then requested video and photos of their events.  That stuff poured in.  On December 3, Lee and I cobbled the content into a five-minute video.

Becoming aware that this essay would not be published until March (after sending it to an editor), I considered what the view of these events would be from a season in the future.  Then, I became aware of myself conducting a dissociation to achieve an alternative perspective.  This was followed by my being aware of my being aware of my conducting a dissociation.

There is a difference between debilitating dissociation that leads to an experience of feeling removed or separated from an integration with the environment and the kind of dissociation that offers an ability to achieve both an experience of integration accompanied by a grasping of the relationship of the constituent parts at several levels.  Dissociation can be characterized by division or integration.

The line between these two kinds of dissociation can be pretty thin.  I spend time in both places.  The people I am close to in my life note that I’m engaged in debilitating dissociation usually before I am aware that that is what is happening.  They then call my attention to it, providing me a reminder to associate and engage.

The United States also features both debilitating and integrative dissociations.  This country has offered an astonishing ability to engender alternative perspectives propelling the world into new creative directions.  This does not always occur in an awareness vacuum where competing parts jostle for achievement with no oversight, but in a larger context where it is understood that the community is renewed by an independence of its parts, while those parts that contribute to the community are most revered.  Dissociation featuring integration does occur.

At the same time, the United States exhibits a shocking disregard for understanding the implications of violently intervening in the affairs of other countries.  Instead of defining U.S. national security in the context of a larger global whole, U.S. foreign policy often revolves around what works best for corporations and the access of those corporations to resources that benefit American investors.

Protesting the Obama escalation in Afghanistan, citizens call attention to government behavior that is resulting in a less integrated, less socially aware, less communally involved population.  Intervention is required.  So we protest.

Dissociation can be characterized by division or integration.  The choice to escalate in Afghanistan has compelled, in me, an association.  A deep sadness often establishes itself in my body.  When a choice by some invests sadness or anger in others, it’s often a sign that integration will only happen after grief is faced.

The escalation in Afghanistan is founded on dissociation, leading inevitably to grief.


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