There are many interpretations of redemption. The dictionary defines redemption as an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake. Theology, defines it as deliverance from sin: salvation. In my faith, Judaism, on the holy days of Rosh Shoshana, we ask God to forgive us for our transgressions. We will only be forgiven when we make amends to those we offended. In Catholic teaching, the Sacrament of Penance is the method of the Church by which we confess sins committed and have them absolved by God through the administration of a Priest. In Islam it is said, “Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.”
I am certain all religions strive for these same ideals and values. If each of us take these three religions into full context, integrate their teachings and follow them wholeheartedly, we can become as one, collectively and whole.
Carl Jung and “the collective unconscious”
In psychology, Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst of the 20th century founded the idea of the shadow side of our personality. He quotes:
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.”
– Carl Jung
Additionally, Jung developed the concept of “the collective unconscious.”
Deep-seated beliefs regarding spirituality and religion are explained as partially due to the collective unconscious. Jung was convinced that the similarity and universality of world religions pointed to religion as a manifestation of the collective unconscious. Similarly, morals, ethics, and concepts of fairness or right and wrong could be explained in the same way, with the collective unconscious as partially responsible.
The “twelve steps,” a spiritual program for recovering addicts offers redemption in the fourth and fifth steps, whereby in Step 4 we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Step 5 is often called “Confession.” In this step we “admit to God, as we know God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrong. This step follows a written inventory of our wrongs and it is critical to share this as soon as possible.”
Is the pandemic forcing forcing us to become more self-aware?
I wonder if this pandemic is forcing us to take a moral inventory of ourselves– to reassess our priorities, principles and values.
Having been a psychotherapist since 1978, I have incorporated all these principles in my practice as part of a spiritual journey in personal growth and development. It was Socrates that said, “A life unexamined is not a life worth living.”
Self-examination is crucial for knowing our essence, authenticity and redemption. Each of us, as Arianna Huffington wrote in her essay “The Healing Power of Redemption,” must decide our own path and choose what has value to us. It is a personal journey, however it can be a collective search for meaning if we each take that step to self-awareness and higher consciousness.
Becoming the best we can be
As an octogenarian, I am very aware of the most precious commodity we have; that of time. Not unlike toilet paper, the closer we get to the end of the roll, the faster it seems to go. I ask myself what is most important, what really matters? In these challenging times we each must come up to the plate. Each of us has a moral responsibility to become the best we can be. Let us be vigilant in living up to our forefather’s proclamation, when they wrote that “all men are created equal.” Let us remember what we learned in kindergarten, to “do unto others what we would have others do unto us.”
In a strange way I wonder if the pandemic was created by God, as we know God and Mother Nature. Perhaps they called a meeting to teach us a lesson in finding our way and doing the right thing—to cherish our planet, to embrace our differences and to become the best we can be — to love each other regardless of religion, race, creed or any other differences that make us all unique. I believe that we are more the same, than we are different. If we could imbibe our differences as enriching our lives rather than dividing us. We are the United States of America, NOT the Divided States of America! They agreed that 40 days and 40 nights was not enough. We strayed too far to learn the lessons in that short of time.
So here we are, seven months into a crisis that hopefully has a silver lining. Will we learn? Will we be redeemed? Will we become the best we can be? Only time will tell. For me there is little time left. In my numbered days, I pray we can come together as one. I pray for peace on earth and good will towards man. Will I see it? I can only hope and have faith—if not for me, then at least for my children and grandchildren.
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen
Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker and author of I Hate The Man I Love: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success