It seems Newt Gingrich may have upset the Republican presidential primary season with his recent win in South Carolina. If we are not thoughtful and responsible, he just may take us all by surprise in the days and months to come. Many Democrats and Republicans seem to believe that a race between Barack Obama and Newt Gingrich for president will be an easy Democratic win, but I'm not so sure we should jump so far ahead of ourselves. While we have Newt Gingrich front and center, we might consider taking an opportunity to look at what he reflects within each of us.
In this country we relate very deeply to archetypes of villains and heroes. We project upon the villains of our culture, (which, it seems Gingrich is quickly becoming with each spoken word) all of our blame, excuses, weaknesses, and fears. It's easy to look at a person like Gingrich and condemn him for his mistreatment of women, blacks, and impoverished children, along with his questionable political history. However, as we spend time finger pointing and gasping because of what Gingrich has said or done, we are missing an opportunity to heal our nation and ourselves.
Newt Gingrich is the gift that keeps on giving. Why? Because he brings out from the cover of darkness the shadow that exists within us. He makes no apologies for, nor acknowledges his actions that most of us find unforgivable and shameful. And he does so as he races to become the most powerful man in the free world. Believe it or not, Newt Gingrich is exactly what we need in order to face ourselves and heal our nation of past wounds that continue to contaminate our ability to move forward, empowered individually, and lovingly connected as a unified people. The rise of Newt Gingrich gives us an opportunity to willingly face the hatred, pain, abandonment, and destruction issues that poverty, race, and adultery touch within us. The beauty of Gingrich is that he dares to say out loud what most of us are ashamed of even thinking or feeling. Of course, we are not all pure reflections of Gingrich; there are those of us who have sincerely moved into a way of being that expresses love, acceptance, and community. However the majority of us, if we are honest, hold within our hearts beliefs of superiority, exclusion, bigotry, separation, and arrogance.
It's no mistake that Gingrich's perceived offenses have been directed toward what many might call the most vulnerable in our society -- women, children, ethnic minorities, and the impoverished. Our society has a great deal of healing, forgiveness, and integration to experience in connection with its treatment of these groups.The inequitable treatment of these groups cast the longest shadows in our culture because they represent the topics and experiences we have been too afraid and too ignorant to face head-on. Gingrich has risen to the top of the Republican primary race -- and to the forefront of our attention -- because what lies in the dark must come to the light in order for it to be healed. For this I say "Thank you, Newt Gingrich."
We have been afraid to face these aspects of ourselves because of our judgment that we are somehow wrong or bad for having feelings of bigotry, or superiority. We attempt to disown the parts of ourselves that we condemn with the hope that no one else will see them. Yet, what we ignore simply festers within our society. Here's the opportunity at hand. When apartheid ended in South African and Nelson Mandela became the first African president of that nation, a Truth and Reconciliation Council was created. This council was formed to allow those who had been deeply impacted by apartheid to come forward and speak of their crimes and experiences of crime, with the intention of forgiveness and healing for all parties involved. Speaking their stories aloud was an opportunity for perpetrators and victims to bring to light what they were holding in the dark in order to heal and move forward into greater freedom.
We can begin healing what is broken and hurting within the American psyche right where we are today. The question is "Are we ready to look within ourselves for our inner Gingrich? Do we have the courage to acknowledge our own ideas of elitism and our desire to exclude those we see as different or less-than? Have we ever lied to or cheated on those closest to us for personal gain?" These are not easy questions to answer from within ourselves, and most of us might, at least at first, respond by finger pointing and blaming the other. But being present with the emotions and facing ourselves authentically is what is needed now. Facing ourselves, however difficult, will garner immeasurable rewards setting the stage for what can be a dynamic and bright future. We cannot move forward in the way we desire without reconciling these cast-off parts of ourselves. Today is a new day in our nation. We are not who we were several decades ago, and we have not become what will be several decades from now. We seem to be holed up in a liquefied state, like that of the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. We cannot become what is possible without recognizing what we have been.
Newt Gingrich's win in South Carolina is a wake-up call for us to begin asking ourselves "Who do we want to be as a nation? Do we desire to continue old patterns of betrayal, bigotry, superiority, and exclusion? Or are we a courageous people, uniquely diverse and powerfully united in an experience of healing and transformation? If change is what we truly desire then it can only come from courage to allow our entire selves to be seen. We must be vulnerable and remove the masks that cover our brokenness. Thank you Newt Gingrich, for opening the door to our darkest closets, giving us a chance to really see the light.