“$8 Million Bail for Kidnapping Suspect” read the New York Times headline on May 9, 2013. Once again the headlines shout out the most aberrant, deviant, chillingly evil of human beings. In this case Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping, raping, chaining and beating three young women for a decade, now exposed and in captivity. A sentiment arises in reaction: Execute him by the cruelest of means, avenge the lost innocence, protect future innocence!
Though I hold no sympathy for the devil, I know this devil is but a symptom of our current human condition, a sign that must be fully read and owned if our species is to advance beyond our current rut. To simply kill the messenger is to fail to comprehend the real message.
I’ve spent the lion’s share of my professional life, almost 35 years, penetrating PTSD, journeying with survivors of abuse to retrieve their lost wings and ultimately fly with sheer abandon, finally freed of their trauma. Consistently, throughout the years, the question presents itself: Why? Why are there predators? Why do brothers rape sisters and brothers? Why do fathers rape daughters and sons, mothers their sons and daughters? Why do uncles rape their nieces and nephews, grandparents their grandchildren? Why do neighbors rape neighbors, men rape women, priests their brethren? The list touches every social construction, every relationship in our world.
The myth of our origin is a crime, our hubris—the Catholics call it original sin—our original decision to evolve on our own terms outside the laws of nature. Humankind decided to take nature and further it in its own way. This was the birth of consciousness, of ego at the control, alienated from its god—nature as it had evolved and run for eons based on what worked best, based on its own laws of balance. Then along came man.
Humankind quickly generated its own rule books to regulate and further itself, leaving nature to the animal world. Humankind developed taboos like incest, and instituted rites of passage to regulate and transform the powerful instincts of sex, hunger, and protection. Eventually religions arose to regulate those instincts. Religions were also charged with regulating and guiding the evolving spirit self, checking the tendency of ego self to proclaim itself a god.
Today, we have a world where religions largely do lip service to uphold the norm and support a social identity. Today, the human race has completely lost its real identity. The human race has forgotten that it is an animal. The human sees itself as a supercomputer, a technical wizard-god, capable of creating its own universe. The human being has long forgotten its animal roots. It has completely underestimated the power of its instinctive core.
For most of us, finding a healthy pathway to the instincts is barred. We human beings are either terrified of the disintegrating impact instincts have upon consciousness, or we have completely lost the ability to feel a deeper connection to those instinctive energies. If those instincts do emerge, there is little to guide and help regulate their flow and integration. At best we have a bunch of rules. Few can talk openly about their passionate needs. They stay hidden in the shadows. We are a species dissociated and in opposition to our instincts. They manifest as the sick and maimed ferocious animals of our dreams—our boxed up, imprisoned, disowned instinctive selves.
Under the guise of “civilization” lies the belief that we are an advanced species, and that we are in superior control. Not so! Our instinctive selves have become the predators that lurk within and without. They are the Ariel Castors, the disowned ones, freed to roam and prey outside of us because we refuse to take seriously the power of our dissociated animal selves. The Ariel Castors among us are not separate from us. They are our disowned instincts driven to deviance by our silence and refusal to speak about our sexual nature.
It’s not the animal that’s the problem. Animals DON’T rape. It’s the failure of the human animal to properly acknowledge and wisely integrate its own instinctive nature. That’s what causes the animal in us to become rabid; neglect and disownment are the culprits. The sexual predator lives in the shadow side of a species that has disowned its animal self.
If we squarely faced the animal within ourselves, we’d have no illusions about the predatory potential all around and inside us. We’d have no illusions about the predatory potential of every human being—including our so civilized selves—to do harm to others.
I do not mean to stir up paranoia—although I would warn to be extremely thoughtful before leaving young children alone with older siblings or relatives or a neighbor. Instinctual energies that have not been properly encountered are prone to be acted out in a deviant way where opportunity arises, most often against the innocent and powerless. Our challenge is to face more squarely the sexual instinct inside the self, inside growing children, inside everyone, not to underestimate its power or impact, but to talk about it, regulate it, normalize it, transform it, warn and protect against its excesses. I’m proposing that it’s time to step up to the truth of the monstrous predicament we have gotten ourselves into by our failure to address the topic of our own instinctive selves, now turned deviant due to neglect, an imbalance caused by a failure to address and take responsibility for all sides of our human nature.
In the case I cited to begin this blog with, that of Ariel Castro, this predator must be held accountable and properly sentenced for the crimes he committed against those young women, but the real message for all of us is not to kill the messenger, but to heed his most alarming message. This is what we have become! To kill the messenger is a micro management solution to a macro problem. Let’s get to the broader view of an endangered species that has lost its way. It’s a problem that effects all of us. It’s time to go straight to the management and complain, because if we simply scapegoat the messenger, the sacrifice offered by the innocent ones is lost and we don’t advance our human species, but simply remain entrenched in our current “civilized” illusion.
Who do we, as a species, want to be? Yes, we are spirit beings, but we are first and foremost animals. We will never realize our fuller spirit potential if we do not successfully integrate our animal natures.