Jung used the terms “ego” and “Self” in very specific ways. His “Self” would include the total personality – consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego.
While each of us is born “whole,” the “ego” begins to differentiate our conscious identity into a separate “part” based on a limited conceptualization of what “we” are. We then tend to ignore the rest of what we are, especially what our conscious minds judge as dangerous or bad.
We create a “shadow” in which traits and desires we do not like, and do not see as part of ourself, lurk in the darkness. The only problem with this is that everything we’ve separated from also has a positive dimension that would allow us to lead a more fulfilling life.
Over the course of life, through the process Jung called “Individuation,” we explore all parts of ourselves and learn to embrace and integrate all of what we are as “Self.”
A similar process of embracing all parts of what we are can happen in our conceptualizations of humanity as a whole.
In the process of asking ourselves “Who are my loved ones?” and including all of humanity, we are performing a task on a collective scale analogous to what Jung’s called “individuation” on an individual scale.
This does not require accepting the behaviors of sadistic individuals or rapacious cultures. Instead, we may recognize that such horrific behavior is an ugly expression of desires and aspirations that all humans share, which may also be expressed in beautiful ways.
We can see as we look through the pages of history, some filled with staggering achievements of empathy and progress and others dripping with blood – humanity is both bright and dark.
“The Self…embraces ego-consciousness, shadow, anima, and collective unconscious in indeterminable extension. As a totality, the self is a coincidentia oppositorum; it is therefore bright and dark and yet neither.” – Carl Jung
God made evolution, because She preferred to plant colorful humanity in a wild jungle and see how we twist and curl as we reach for the sun.
Let’s be honest: If you were omnipotent, omniscient and eternal, would you wind up a bunch of people-clocks so you could listen to their heads tick? That would get awfully boring after a year, let alone an eternity.
Messy organic diversity is exciting and frustrating and delicious.
We evolved physical bodies in lots of shapes and sizes, but mostly with two eyes to see and two legs to carry us.
We evolved minds that twist the world into symbols and metaphors in an endless array of singular shapes, but all these abstractions serve the same purpose of telling us how to collaborate with our families and thrive in this wild jungle.
First, we evolved to survive in a physical environment where we had to fight off wolves and find food on our own because there weren’t many people. Then, we evolved to thrive in a social environment where some people seemed like family but other people seemed like wolves. Today, our minds are still trying to figure out which people are wolves and which ones are family.
This place made me stop, stare, and completely re-evaluate fried chicken. It’s different from buttermilky Georgia fried chicken, it’s different from straight-shooting midwest fried chicken. It’s light-years from the only two good fried chicken places in the Pacific Northwest, yet also different from the rest of the South.
The batter is filled with potent flavor and a vague heat that builds pleasantly. Chicken stock reduced down to a paste for savoriness plus a cajun dry-rub? Maybe. But the texture of that crunch… this texture is simply unavailable elsewhere. This skin has a craggly, twisty surface, like dark waves of umami-lava frothed upward and fried into place. It looks like bubbly volcanic rock when you break it open, and every nook and cranny packs a wallop of satisfying piquant savor. How do they do that?
beans – Normally I have trouble caring about vegetables. In any meal,
they’re the tambourine player of the band to me. Sure, maybe that
tambourine guy adds something, but I sure as hell didn’t come to the
show to hear him play.
green beans are good enough I’ll wait for their solo. I’m big on
salt, and they push the limit of salt’s flavor-enhancing qualities –
but without salt becoming a flavor itself. They are pushed to the
limit in every way, with vinegar, garlic, and red pepper. The result
is a hit-making vegetable. How do they do that?
cornbread is top-notch.
lemonade is fresh squeezed.
bread pudding is funky in left-field unexpected taste, blessedly free
of raisins, and rum-boozy.
pretty sure there is root beer in the yams.
But that chicken… how do they do that? I can only embrace the awe and wonder. And clean my plate.
the sidewalk of the quiet residential neighborhood that nestles and
hides Domilise’s, I glimpsed the simple sign. Finally! But wait. No
light or sound came from inside. It looked closed. She wanted to go
back to the car. I decided to check the door before a tumbleweed blew
past us or something.
the door, light and sound and laughter spilled onto us. I’d opened a
portal to cheerful pub-like world of fried sandwiches. The bigger of
two bars sits inches behind the door, calling ticket numbers and
shuffling po boys to customers one after another. Another tiny bar is
tucked in the far corner serving drinks.
place is so focused on what they do well that locals continue to fill
it up even though Anthony Bourdain came here for Season 4 Episode 5
of “No Reservations.”
fry seafood flawlessly. They stuff a heap of it in a po boy. That’s
all you need.
Bun? It’s a French loaf with as much character as Keanu Reeves. Just like Mr. Ted Theodore Logan can add to a film by adding nothing, a nondescript bun can add zen-thing-no-thing to a sandwich. Sometimes all you want is an empty vessel through which a thing substance may flow. This whatever-bread is that vessel. It may have squiggles of lettuce in it too, but who knows.
The oyster po boy showcased the best fried oysters I’ve ever had. Those aren’t usually my favorite, but these had a crackly crust on them and their singular perfection had me plucking the occasional rich mineral-y molluscnugget from the sandwich to enjoy it on its own.
Golden mid-sized shrimp tumbled over the sides of the shrimp po boy, asking, really – for nothing at all. Another shrimp po boy with what seemed almost like a side dish on top – gravy and swiss cheese – confirmed this.
There is a simplicity of purpose that shines through as your po boy passes through an efficient line of cooks to be handed over with pride by the man who calls out your number. If only everyone’s mission statement could be so straightforward. Fry flawlessly. Stuff bun. Take money. Make happy.
it’s a dingy corner market with narrow aisles.
I had to shuffle sideways to
the back to avoid knocking
bags of chips on the floor. It’s also some of the best
food I had in the French Quarter.
shrimp they use in the po
and it somehow packs more of the “local” flavor in its
flesh than other
shrimp I had in
the city. It’s seemingly a higher grade of shrimp than most places in
town use for their sandwiches, and it bursts with that signature
swampy-delicious flavor I
came to identify with nola crustaceans.
a “grilled shrimp po boy,” and you may find that
swamptastic flavor nearly overwhelming. Get a “fried shrimp po
boy,” and its freshwater undertones dance flawlessly with the
a crazy variety of sandwiches on the menu, so I asked the man who
makes ’em what to get:
is grilled shrimp
and ham and turkey and melty cheese
with a Verti-made stoneground mustardy sauce. Between the multiple
animals and cheeses and creamy sauce, this is a bellybuster
in the best way possible. (and I’m a “large pizza to myself”
is a spot we returned to multiple times after discovering that much
of the food in the French Quarter is touristy in a bad way.
Get beignets while you’re here, because they’re fluffly and creamy and light, so you can skip the sugarbricks at Cafe Du Monde.
is “The Compassionate Theory of Everything”? Where did it
come from and what do I do with it?
Background: When I was young and attending an Indianapolis school,
our teacher had us crawl under our desks and cover our heads to
protect against nuclear attacks from “Russkies.” Many
people said we had to get them before “they” got “us.”
Attacking another country was supposedly justified because “they”
were Communists, and not really human like “us.” I wondered
if “communists” might still be people regardless of their
I went to buy bubblegum at the corner store, I was often attacked by
a group of kids who claimed I was something bad because my skin color
was different from theirs. I wondered if they might be mistaking me
for “something bad” based on their ideas. This mistake had
to be based on “their ideas about my skin color” as opposed
to the reality of my “skin color.” None of my friends in
the neighborhood had the same skin color as my own, so the violence
was based on ideas about reality and not reality itself.
developed a burning curiosity to know how and why human beings come
up with ideas of “us” vs “them.” I wanted to know
why these ideas could shape our reasoning process and justify attack.
Over decades I began to see patterns in common between racism,
nationalism/war, and ALL forms of prejudice.
of the CTOE using more technical terms: Human beings are born with
the capacity to see people as part of an “in-group” or
“out-group.” Empathy and compassion are innate parts of the
human experience occurring naturally for our in-group, yet these are
applied ONLY to those we PERCEIVE as part of our in-group. The
in-group is formed through a perception of “who is similar to
us,” and who we conceptualize as having physical or mental
traits in common with us. All forms of “moral” or “immoral”
behavior can be explained by an individual’s conception of their
in-group can be conceptualized by the individual as including only
the individual (in remorseless criminals who will harm others for
personal gain/pleasure,) our own nuclear family (in the CEO who sells
carcinogenic products to the public to buy his children a mansion,)
expanded to those who share our religion (Crusades, etc,) our nation
(war,) our race (racism,) our gender (patriarchy,) or all people (as
in the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.) This perception and
conceptualization of in-group is often learned from culture and
upbringing, but this learning can be modified through conscious
effort. We can make a deliberate effort to EXPAND our conception of
an in-group, by seeing their desires and mental activities as similar
to our own. This conception can include all people who are human
of the CTOE: Widespread and cross-cultural understanding of this
basic process will reverse the global trend toward extremism and
fragmentation of societies.
extremism has grown as our ideological differences (dissimilarity in
conceptualizations) have been highlighted and advertised through
tweets and modern communication technologies. The natural result of
this has been in-group bonding through shared outrage at the
conceptualization and behavior of others and out-group attack of
those who see reality differently.
awareness and understanding of our OWN in-group formation process is
vital to the survival of our species, or at least human political and
social systems. Without it we continue to create a world full of
groups all viewing themselves as “moral and good” as they
attack other groups.
Infant Morality Researcher Paul Bloom: “We are predisposed to
break the world up into different human groups based on the most
subtle and seemingly irrelevant cues, and that, to some extent, is
the dark side of morality… We have an initial moral sense that is
in some ways very impressive, and in some ways, really depressing —
that we see some of the worst biases in adults reflected in the minds
and in the behaviors of young babies…a bias to favor the self,
where the self could be people who look like me, people who act like
me, people who have the same taste as me, is a very strong human
bias. It’s what one would expect from a creature like us who evolved
from natural selection, but it has terrible consequences.”
– The one hormone we think of as the “love hormone”
motivates both in-group favoritism and out-group antagonism
show that oxytocin creates intergroup bias because oxytocin motivates
in-group favoritism and, to a lesser extent, out-group derogation.
These findings call into question the view of oxytocin as an
indiscriminate “love drug” or “cuddle chemical” and suggest
that oxytocin has a role in the emergence of intergroup conflict and
– Individual conceptions of in-groups can be expanded by cultural
conceptions, when legislation grants “personhood” –
1879 the Native American Chief Standing Bear’s family was being
removed from their land by the US Government. He brought suit against
the Army general charged with removing him.
Ponca chief spoke before the court: “That hand is not the color
of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel
pain,” said Standing Bear. “The blood is of the same color
as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”
Elmer S. Dundy ruled on May 12th, 1879 that “an Indian is a
of the US population now sees Native Americans as “human
beings,” which was not the case in the 1800s. Those whose skin
“looks different” than “ours” can be seen as
fully and completely human, and legislative changes promote cultural
changes which promote individual changes in conceptualization.
Canada, On Oct. 18, 1929, women were declared “persons”
under the law. Women were granted the right to vote in 1940, and all
women regardless of race were granted the right to vote in 1950.
whose “gender is different” than “ours” can be
seen as fully and completely human. We would prefer this process to
happen “on its own,” but cultures and individuals must
instead “learn” to see those who look or think differently
as fully and completely human. There are evolutionary reasons human
beings have twin capacities to “recognize humanity” and
“reject it,” and those will be covered elsewhere.
Although we continue to see horrific violations of human rights
around the world – human cultures and civilizations have been moving
in the general direction of “expanding our in-groups” for
hundreds of years. The UN Declaration of Human Rights was a milestone
in the 20th century impossible in the century before. That
declaration was likely a result of awareness – many people could see
the danger to all humanity posed by a world of fragmented in-groups
each possessing nuclear arms.
provide answers to our individual questions, and these answers in
general have become more and more inclusive as evidenced through
advances in “personhood” and suffrage. But sub-cultures
often still teach us that “we the people” are different and
better than “they” the not-quite people.
as individuals, can nurture the process of compassion in ourselves by
recognizing that all people have certain questions in common –
regardless of the various foreign “realities” their answers
may bring them. Having questions in common aids us in experiencing
empathy and compassion.
can nurture the progress of this compassionate process in society
through our daily interactions with others, and find our own ways to
communicate and share “how the process works.”
“2 Universal Questions” are the simplest and most direct
communication I could come up with, after working at unifying
evolutionary and psychological perspectives, and attempting to boil
them down to a process as simple and cross-culturally recognizable as
is best for my loved ones?” (my family and those I see as
similar to me in some way)
are my loved ones?” (who, specifically, has something in common
with my conception of myself and can be embraced as my in-group?)
your sub-culture, be it an academic or political or spiritual, there
is some way of communicating this same basic process to others.
Please find it and spread it, because it will help human civilization continue to grow in compassion.
There was a decade after I joined Facebook that I couldn’t use it without getting pissed off.
One morning I opened my laptop and saw all the political chaos,
spiritual debate and outrage and horror we create in the world… and I
felt love for humanity.
I knew I had something.
theory helped me create a house-wide oasis within a ghetto, where I
brought homeless people and felons and stroke victims to eat
Thanksgiving dinner together. We watched Tom Hanks on the wall with my
Police responded to no calls to the address. One of
my tenants was arrested in the driveway, but for charges unrelated to
behavior in our home. Parole officers called it the nicest rooming house
My success, failure, addiction, depression – and even
the anguish of meaninglessness – now has a sense of order I can relate
to based on a theory I developed over decades.
This theory – the
story I believe is true – has also helped me train dogs for both
behavior and emotional state. Compassion can be found between humans and
The theory, which explains why humans have such
different ideas about reality and everything in it, is congruent with
It does not negate religion or spirituality.
It has allowed me to find fulfillment and quality of life, regardless
of my lifestyle at any given time. Living in a rich neighborhood or
sleeping on pavement affected my comfort level, but I’ve enjoyed purpose
and a sensation of aliveness.
I have tested the Compassionate
Theory of Everything in my own life, and it brings me empathy and
understanding for others. Self-compassion allowed me to integrate parts
of myself I had hated or feared into a fulfilling whole.
I’m not going to insist that the CTOE is “true.” It produced a predicted result for me.
If you want the world to make sense in ways that let you love all the people in it, I will be offering the theory to you. So you can test it yourself.