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Posted by on Sep 19, 2008 in Politics | 29 comments

‘The Savior Projection’: Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe Biden, Bob Barr


Putting The Culture On The Couch: ‘The Savior Projection’ Onto Politicians Running For High Office

We all do it when we are first in love: idealize ‘the other,’ seeing them as both ‘the I and the Thou’… not keeping much of a personal self, but somehow merging with an over-idealized vision of beauty and perfection we project onto this other soul…

That flush of enormous feeling, in actually, upon investigation, appears to be an unrealistic image, as though from a slide projector…an image projected over the loved one, an image that contains all of one’s hopes and dreams, and yes, one’s own unrealized gifts… all this projected you might say, onto the wall, hoping someone will walk by who fits its outlines exactly….

Thus, the loved one not only shines with their own gifts, but takes on double, triple, quadruple sheen…. for they are carrying an odd optical illusion that comes from a projection of magnitude…

all this can be caused by us unconsciously dreaming ‘Wondrous Perfection’ aloud, and draping it over another person… and then,

expecting them to live up to the unlivable (for humans) divine projection.

Many a politician, by virtue of righteously appealing to our dearest just dreams during a campaign for election, rouses the sleeping dreamer, the somnambulistic idealist in many of us. This is good in one way, bringing people back to life. But also, by so doing, such a politician also has to be prepared to suddenly find him or herself engulfed by the huge archetypes of Supreme Helper, Savior, or Hope of the World.

The man becomes Mountain, thereby. The woman becomes Wonder, thereby… Or else, Demon personified, because a wholly negative projection works similarly … negative projection can be filled with the bent iron nails and broken glass of our own foibles and errors that we resist admitting…. to ourselves about ourselves… and so instead, we aim them outwardly, finding in others grave omissions, grievous commissions, and so on.

But, most often, at first, before overly-negative projections occur, come overly-positive ones. The politicians (and sometimes those who are their side-men and side-women) reach beyond simple persona into the heart of dreams people have been carrying for a long time.

This is one way politicians, thereby, inadvertently, create many portals for projection of the Divine onto themselves. It is usually not solicited, but is a side effect of rousing people’s hopes and ambitions. Yet the politician is a mere mortal. No mortal can fulfill the projection of Divinity without in some way being reduced to scrap by the trying.

To remain innately kind and steady in the midst of such flurries of projected mirror shine, can be tough… the ego can become unbalanced by being overly thrilled by the adulation, but the soul is not…. the soul insists on holding its own shape, holding steady to one’s own greater mind, despite all the shimmy-shiny that is waved before it.

In the creative life which shares at least two walls with spirit, there are challenges to hold to the soul and not sell out to ego alone or/and to what everyone else wants us to be … for them.

It’s a feat to remain compassionate and visionary when one cannot give everything that every person desires, cannot fix everything in the world that is in dire need, but one hopes to, dreams it, wants it, is dedicated lifelong to mending the world.

It’s a feat to remain visionary when everyday somewhere in the world, no matter what the best persons do to mediate, grave losses continue to pile up, even as gains are made elsewhere. It’s a feat to hold to one’s own mortal shape and do the ordinary most often and the extraordinary as often as possible, to be fair and honest about oneself, one’s view of the world… while under continual duress to transform all things.

Projection of the Savior, or Great Hope of the World, is powerful. We have seen its deleterious effects in both the great leaders and also the great dictators of the world. We can see how, in the inexperienced and naive, that all can throw a politician off their heart game… and instead, dump them into a flashy, showy inflation that is about ego alone, about ‘looking and sounding good in order to win only,’ in order to shock . shake. transmute the world in a way that will make ‘the world’ take notice.

But then, one’s life is no longer about following the difficult directives of spirit and soul… and the politician often falters then, more scornful, even rageful, irritable then, and thus more prone to not watching over the process, the acolytes, the employees, the adulants, and more prone to errors of judgment and speech.

A politician resisting profound public projection and the undertows that go with it, knows when he or she is speaking according to the vision he or she dedicatedly carries, versus allowing themselves to lose their shape and try to fit the empty but golden carapace some overly-adorational groups have fashioned for them to inhabit… again, via a stunning projection the politician can never live up to.

The odd thing is, projection of the Divine is often incremental, and the politicians who receive this glossy projection are often not aware they are trying on its gilded clothing more and more as time goes on. That is until, as it was said in ancient Greece, ‘Whom the Gods once loved, they now seek to destroy.’

Hero-making projections in our presidential elections are bound to unwind and fall into an entropy, as all ‘too shiny’ projections must.

Remember, when we are first in love and think the other has no weaknesses, no icky habits, no part of themselves that is not just love personified? But, as time goes on, we see the person full and whole… and imperfect. Maybe we are disappointed and move on, ever wanting to project ‘perfect person-hood’ onto someone, anyone… but most often that perfect someone will never be found… for it’s an archetype one is enamored with, not a flesh and blood real human being who scratches and sneezes and sings sweetly sometimes.

But, maybe instead, we say, the true gold is so valuable in this person we care for, that even though there is an appreciable amount of untransformed lead in them–and us– too, that we will still care deeply, and we will remain close, joining our quests in life to theirs.

That’s when, as they say in our culture, ‘the honeymoon is over.’ But, what is left once the projection is shattered, is what is truly real. The real gold, as well as the real ‘not-yet-golden.’ The real deal.

Then, one might say, a durable love begins, a finely tuned love of not only of delight, but also of intense devotion. Based on what is real, rather than on what has suddenly jumped up out of thin air via a fantasmagoric projection.

The more shiny a projection was to begin with, the more unrealistically divine, the more it will begin to eventually lose its luster. And we are now, I believe, seeing the webbed feet rather than the shiny-shine of various candidates as time goes on in this election cycle.

The idea is not to scorn what/ who one once was madly in projective love with, but rather to face the touching reality about all of us: There is no perfect swan. There is no soul on earth who is not human at every level. Each has bodily functions to take care of every day. Each has urges and drives and instincts and oddities, weirdnesses and wildness.

Perhaps the real wonder, given all those ticks and tocks we all carry, is that we all do as well as we do on earth. That’s the real miracle, I think.

Yet, in this home stretch of the elections, we are in the denouement at the moment, I think, given all the ankle-biting and slam-booking going on on all sides by some…. the projections are being dismantled left and right….but whatever is left after all politicians running for office are finally at rest, in private, with those they trust, those who are conscious of these matters, will throw the too tall golden crowns in the corner, only taking them out for ceremonial occasions, perhaps…

for there is hardly anything more destructive that will or can ruin a potentially great leader than nurturing a hubris within oneself, one that rises higher and higher to match the more and more unrealistic projections he or she is receiving.

To allow hubris to rise to meet projection, is doom.

But also, to continue to project Hope of the World and Savior over every potential leader, is also doom. A leader cannot fit themselves to Divine projection without destroying others…. as well as, ultimately, themselves. All suffer then. All.

In any case, whatever was golden in a politician to begin with, will not tarnish as time goes on. That remains treasure. The question however, will ever be, how inhibitory or obstructive will what is still dead gray lead in the politician’s insight, mapping abilities, endurance, and strategic chess-like thinking, continue to be an issue, when/if he or she wins control and leadership of this beautiful America and her people?

photo by Manu