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Political skill and feeling



 

Everyone understands the need for people skills 

and recognizes that politics plays a role in all social activity. What we do not see is the fundamental conflict between thinking and feeling  and how poorly developed and inferior feeling  is in Western society. Feeling is a different and equally valid way of approaching and organizing experience. Jung defined wisdom  as the union of thinking and feeling. They are complementary to each other and each is essential.

True feeling is the opposite of manipulative political skills. The following is from Jung's description of extraverted feeling  .

I may feel moved, for instance, to say that something is ``beautiful'' or ``good'' not because I find it ``beautiful'' or ``good'' from my own subjective feeling about it, but because it is fitting and politic to call it so, since a contrary judgment would upset the general feeling situation. A feeling judgment  of this kind is not by any means a pretense or a lie, it is simply an act of adjustment. A painting, for instance, is called beautiful because a painting hung in the drawing room and bearing a well-known signature is generally assumed to be beautiful, or because to call it ``hideous'' would presumably offend the family of its fortunate possessor, or because the visitor wants to create a pleasant feeling atmosphere, for which purpose everything must be felt as agreeable. These feelings are governed by an objective criterion. As such they are genuine and represent the feeling function as a whole(595)[25].

Something is beautiful because to see it as beautiful is the appropriate response to enhance what is most valuable. The beauty comes from the situation and not the painting. One does not see a ``hideous'' painting and lie about it for manipulative reasons. Rather what one says about what one sees is determined by a value judgment of the situation. In a different situation the same painting may be said to be hideous because that is the appropriate comment. If a response based on thinking were to call the same painting beautiful in one situations and hideous in the other it would be lying and hypocritical  . This is not true of the feeling based response because the meaning of the perception is defined by the values in the situation. Of course someone oriented primarily be thinking interprets the feeling based response in terms of her or his own psychology and sees the actions as hypocritical.

Neither approach is correct or incorrect. They are both adaptations that work in some situations and fail in others. Nothing we perceive is absolutely objective.

Good feelings and and a consistent intellectual framework are equally critical to the functioning of any institution or social organization. At the same time they are incessantly at odds. If thinking dominates then feeling is often dealt with in manipulative and dishonest ways. This is legion in our culture today. Much of modern advertising  is a perversion of feeling  . If you want to be loved use our product. It will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Of course it never does and the more one pays attention to such nonsense the less happy and fulfilled one becomes. As we focus on an increasingly narrow intellectual model that reduces all values to a price tag, feeling revolts in the most grotesque ways. Gangs are one  symptom of this. They are feeling based subcultures. Teenage pregnancy  is another symptom. A mother's relationship to her child is is the most intense feeling relationship. To have a child in circumstances when you cannot properly care for it is a perversion of that feeling, but one that can arise when other outlets for feeling are blocked, distorted or perverted. The most recent and grotesque example are the private militia  s. The bombing of the Oklahoma federal building is an act of evil but it is a mistake to see at is an isolated event. It is in part a product of the evil in our culture. We must find and punish those responsible, but unless we start to correct the evil in us that makes such a monstrosity possible there will be increasing violent and destructive reactions.

The arguments the militia make against the government are what Jung described as thinking governed by feeling  .

... it does not follow its own logical principle but is subordinated to the principle of feeling. In such thinking the laws of logic are only ostensibly present; in reality they are suspended in favor of the aims of feeling(833)[25].

The members of the militia know something is horribly wrong. They do not and cannot understand it but they must lash out against it. Their ideas about how to respond originate in this feeling judgment and not in any objective information or rational understanding of the situation. To deal with the problem all of us must come to terms with the real problem. There is no intellectual model on which we can organize society. As long as we insist on our formulas for this, no matter what the formulas are, we will move closer to disaster. Neither Capitalism  , Socialism  , Communism  nor any other `ism' in the sense of a conceptual system  will work for long. Society must be rooted in human and religious values. That is the inspiration for the declaration of independence and the constitution and it is an inspiration that is badly in need of renewal. The militia do not miss the mark when they speak of our straying from these documents as the source of the problem.

It is ironic that feeling at its most grotesque and perverted can bring out feeling at its best. For it is in times of tragedy that we most often see feeling at its best  in our culture. Attitudes become, for the moment, dominated by people's concern for each other. Personal agendas take a back seat. People soothe and comfort each other because that is what is most important and not for any ulterior motive.

It is the spirit of feeling at its best the we must renew through a commitment to human and religious values. We must continue to use all that we understand about economics and motivation but we must do this in a context of values that cannot have its roots in economics or in any conceptual system.

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