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Millennial Reflections Transcript
The millennium turns tonight–an occasion for all sorts of celebrations–and reflections. There will be, I’m sure, a watchful media to tell (and show) us which child was born first in the new millennium — quite an honor indeed. For the child, symbolically and literally, always represents the future, and future possibilities– whether in society at large or within ourselves. The noted psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, went even further when he argued that the symbolic figure of the child “unites the opposites; [is] a mediator, bringer of healing, that is, one who makes whole.”
Needless to say, in our culture, we don’t usually think of children in reality, or the child spirit in our own psyches in such an exalted way — at least not since Shirley Temple turned the American child into a transcendent national archetype in the 1930s, offering in film after film a spirit of reconciliation, hope, and healing for a nation deeply concerned about its future. Our own kids today, when we see them in public forms (usually on t.v.), are more often than not associated with commercial interests or else with some sad news story about abuse, neglect, or violence. And though many adults dress like children and continue to practice the ego-centric, tantrum-throwing manners of their five-year-old selves, one of the more insulting things you can say to an adult is that they are “childish.” Too often childhood is seen as a burden, a cost, a weakness, a vulnerability.
Jung again gives us something to reflect on here. He was sorting out this paradox in our feelings about the child when he wrote that “the ‘child’ is all that is abandoned and exposed and at the same time divinely powerful; the insignificant, dubious beginning, and the triumphal end. The ‘eternal child’ in mankind is an indescribable experience, an incongruity, a handicap, and a divine prerogative; an imponderable that determines the ultimate worth or worthlessness of a personality.”
What he was saying, of course, was: we must value and care for and honor that child, in society and in ourselves, if we wish to have a new millennium that ‘s worth celebrating.