Is the future relevant? Can we suspend immediate satisfaction in favor of our descendants’ quality of life? Legacy comes from the Latin root legatia: one who is sent on a mission [into the future]. It is an act of benevolent imagination to accompany our choices forward in time and take responsibility for their fruits – by facing the long future we have set in motion, we can choose wisely.
We are like King Midas, who nursed the satyr Selenius and was rewarded by the god Dionysus with one wish. Seduced by the fantasy of limitlessness, he wished that all he touched turned to gold. His elation gave way to horror as his touch turned fruit, meat, and wine into gold. Lacking foresight, he could not feel the reciprocity between the present and the future.
Late in life, Jung struggled with a vision of the future – humanity would ultimately destroy itself. Bearing this, he hoped analytical psychology could intervene. If only people would turn within and embrace the autonomous forces of the unconscious, the ego could be set in right relationship to the Self and the earth.
“Rather seek for yourself and your fellows the healing vessel, the servitor mundi, which you urgently need. For your state is perilous; you are all in imminent danger of destroying all that centuries have built up.”
C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Once we accept the temporality of the ego and embrace our fragile mortality, we can find meaning in what we will leave behind for future generations. We come to understand that we can, in essence, become immortal through our legacies.
Here’s the dream we analyzed:
“On the way to our new house, big rocks are scattered across the way. When we approach the building site, we come to a man in his 50s who looks like a fisherman. He holds a snake and shows it to us. Then I see lots of snakes around him on the ground. I am really scared and try to move out of the situation as soon as possible. The man looks amused as if he challenged us. There is also an old woman beside the man, but her age is not determinable. I find an alternative way to get to the house with my husband. The other way is a bit longer. We climb big rocks where there is some water falling over the sides. I Don’t know whether we finally get out of the situation or not.”
CATAFALQUE: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity, by Peter Kingsley https://www.amazon.com/dp/1999638417/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_FTK8MZ6AC8J76ND77QTJ
MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS by CG Jung https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BW37JXE/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_GW7CM3KWS2CA3WHPHRQK
THE LONG NOW FOUNDATION, https://longnow.org/
Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/
The hosts suggested that, several decades ago in America, people were united over philosophical ideas of citizenship, and that only in the past few decades are we seeing Americans think of themselves as “consumption machines.” However, history tells us something very different than the rosy, idealized image the hosts are inadvertently promoting of earlier generations of Americans: Wasn’t the postwar period (the 1950s, 60s, and 70s) witness to an exploding culture of consumption? How about consumption of fossil fuels, cars, chemicals, plastics, and products made in the U.S. and, increasingly, overseas? How about the fact that the consumption behavior of baby boomers and that of the several generations before them is largely responsible for the rapid and devastating climate change that Millenials and Gen Z are having to face? Wasn’t the demand for products like cocoa, palm oil, and sugar in the 1800s and early 1900s one of the main reasons colonialism wreaked havoc in many parts of Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean and gave rise to the myth of “the (superior) West”? The Age of Wasteful and Excessive Consumption started much, much earlier than the Internet and computer screens, and I would caution anyone against romanticizing past generations only to place the blame for our current challenges on younger generations.
I think we’re on the same page. The transformation of the US culture from citizenship to consumerism started in about 1929 and was well under way by the 50’s, as you noted. You might find this documentary interesting, The Century of Self, https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/the-century-of-the-self/.
Thanks, Joseph! I’ve seen that documentary years ago and it’s incredible.
After listening to the podcast on the topic of legacy, I felt the need to respond to Joseph’s comments on the C-vid vaccine. Typically, I have found Joseph’s contribution to the podcast both illuminating and balanced and have looked forward to the vast knowledge and intuitive insights he brings to each program. On this podcast, however, I found that instead of presenting his usual thoughtful and balanced perspective, he put forward assumptions about an entire class of people. The assumption was that those who get the vaccine are concerned about “futurity and foresight,” i.e., legacy. This may be the case with some, but it is also important to consider that those who choose not to get the vaccine are also concerned with legacy. In my case, and in the case of everyone I know who chooses not to get the vaccine, including doctors, nurses, airline pilots, and countless others, the issue of legacy is of utmost importance. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but before I made the choice not to get vaccinated, I did my due diligence. Needing to explore a balanced perspective on the issue, I set aside the constant, hard-hitting mainstream media narrative and instead dove into the impartial scientific literature available from world experts on the topic, although not easy to locate due to censorship of dissenting voices. I found major conflicts of interest between governmental agencies and the pharmaceutical industry that were concerning. I considered the VAERS data, which are not discussed on the evening news, and which present a picture far different from the “safe and effective” mantra repeated daily. As other corona viruses in the past, this iteration of the virus will continue to morph and coexist with us for years to come. The often unacknowledged legacy from this shot, however, will also coexist with us in the physical and emotional devastation that it has had and will continue to have for generations. Rather than seeking an illusory magic bullet (or series of bullets) that will return us all “back to normal,” it may be expedient to confront the shadow side of this complex issue and transcend the opposing voices in true Jungian fashion to decide on the kind of legacy we wish to create.