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Monday, April 19, 2010

Obama: Saviour or Anti-Christ?

On my previous blog on I wrote about President Obama’s visit to Asia, some five months ago. Obama’s visit created great excitement in this a part of the world, and as a person who writes about Deep Futures, I was most interested in the way that Obama was being almost deified by many people here. It wasn’t that much different from some of the scenes in the US when Obama came to power. Before I make any further comment, here’s a few extracts from that post. (note: many in China were hoping Obama would somehow affirm Chinese policies in Tibet and Xinjiang, where there has been ethnic unrest in recent years).

Obama is perhaps more qualified than any other western leader in modern times to herald a new era of global unity, a prosperous future in every sense. He is the great black hope. For others, especially for the more conservative in the US, he is the devil in saviour’s clothing. He is a “communist”, even “Hitler”. So, which is it? Is he saint, or Satan?
The story of Obama tells us much about the way human beings perceive the future, and their role in it. It tells us how we unconsciously create false hopes and dreams, and equally imaginary nightmares, by abdicating responsibility. And it tells us much about the futures that we are creating today, albeit often unconsciously.
…we might note the human capacity to surrender power to the savior, in the hope of a better future.
In the US, upon inauguration, the cult of Obama reached almost messianic dimensions in some quarters, and the same mentality can still be seen in much of Asia. There is clearly something almost mesmerisingly attractive about a handsome, part white, part black man with Asian and Islamic influences, whose rhetoric reminds us of the lofty language of a JFK or a Martin Luther King (and let’s not think too much about what happened to them). Yet Obama’s policies on the home front have fallen somewhat short of the ideals. Just to mention one, the bailing out of the corporate giants who fleeced the general public of billions, has left many questioning who is really pulling the strings at the White House.
Obama has certainly been correct in one respect. Hope is an audacity. All hope creates expectation, and expectations which are not realised often lead to disappointment, anger and blame. The savior becomes the demon, and crucifixion is just a matter of time.
On the eve of Obama’s much anticipated trip to China, both the idolisers and the haters are playing the same game, just on opposite side. That game is the giving away of power and responsibility.
Whatever “wholeness” may be, it is not delivered by another. Obama’s pronouncements on Taiwan and Tibet, while significant, will do little to address the underlying issues in those two regions, nor the potential fragmentation of the psyche of China. It is time to accept the reality. There is no saviour (or demon) coming. Obama, and even the Chinese Communist Party, only wield as much power as people grant them. And only policy which addresses problems in depth is likely to make lasting change. Rhetoric is shallow.

It is now almost half a year since I wrote that, and things have become extremely polarised in the US in regard to Obama’s presidency. Yet nothing has really changed as far as the human capacity for perception goes. Whether we hate Obama or worship him, it is ultimately an illusion created by the ego. It has often been pointed out that the side with the weakest arguments in a debate often resort sto character assassination. But character deification is just the reverse side of the same coin.

There is another deeper level to the Obama conundrum that lies just below the surface of the problem. As an outsider observing the American system, it is my perception that the republican system exacerbates a common human perpetual weakness (and I know I'm not the only one who has said something like this). This is what I call the "confrontational binary thinking". It occurs when you take up one side of an argument, and begin attacking the other side. This process has been at the heart of western thinking since the time of the ancient Greeks. It’s greatest weakness is that it retards the capacity for novel perception, because the ego attaches its identity to one particular side of an argument or issue, and then cannot see the other's perspective. Ultimately, the capacity for detachment from the problem evaporates, because we get too close to the subject., and the emotional centres of the brain override "rationality". The recent health care bill was passed without a single vote from the Republicans, if I am correct. That really tells you something.

So, what are the alternatives to confrontational binary thinking? There are many. Edward de Bono has developed many techniques, for example. One method I have developed is called Harmonic Circles, which basically involves allowing the contents of the ego to be fully expressed, including all emotional attachments, and then assuming responsibility for the projections which emerge from them. I will return to this topic at a later date, but if you are up for a bit of extended reading, you can find out more about the personal applications of Harmonic Circles here. You can find out about its uses in cultural and civilisational clashes here.

Ultimately, it is not so much technique that moves us beyond the “I am right, you are wrong”,  “us vs them” mentality of the ego. It is finally coming to the deeper relalisation that much of what the mind "thinks' is an illusion. From there, the requirement is to step up a level in terms of self-awareness, and assume greater personal responsibility for ourselves at a deeper level. This is a part of spiritual maturity, and spiritual maturation is crucial to the evolution of Deep Futures.


  1. Very interesting, Marcus. Since O's election - both Rob and I voted for him - we have come to realize that a lot of what people believed about him seemed to be a projection of hope. After 8 years of Bush, people were genuinely hungry for change. In the end, though, he's just one man, pushing against a broken system.

    Whether our perceptions of O are ego or a collective delusion, the bottom line is that he's far preferable to what the alternative would have been - McCain/Palin, a war monger and an idiot.

  2. Of course, as a spiritual person I have no judgment of these people. But I know a clueless moron when I see one - not referring to any cowboy ex-prez in particular, of course ;)

  3. Are you using Obama as an example here? And what made you choose him? Just curious!

  4. Obama is a perfect example of projection - loved and hated in equal measure. Projection, whether 'positive' or 'negative' is ultimately an illusion.