What does the topic of Angels have to do with the
A great deal more than one might think.In the first book of the Angel Mysteries series, I discussed at length the idea that Angels are best understood as a symbol for the set of precedents that hover and prevail over a particular situation. Angels, with their fascinating lore and legend, are elegant images, in need of translation into comprehensible prose, that portray the ferociously important idea that there are “givens” in life that precede us. Whenever we enter into a new situation, or approach a new territory, a set of facts and circumstances precedes us.
A handy term for such a set of prevailing precedents is an “Operating System,” i.e. the principles that “run” an operation and make it go through its hoops. There are man-made Operating Systems, think of the Operating System (or Angel) that runs a Computer or a Conference in a hotel, and there are also natural Operating Systems, think of the Operating System (or Angel) that lies behind the Hydrologic Cycle or the disease we call Diabetes. And there are hybrids.
These ideas come to us from the work of the pioneering Jungian psychologist, Dr. Yoram Kaufmann. He makes the point that those who want to thrive in a territory must take into account its Angel, i.e. its set of prevailing precedents.
The connection to the Iraq War begins with the fact that there can be absolutely no doubt that such an existing set of precedents was operating prior to the American intervention in Iraq. This set included the long-standing Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish enmities and the makeshift history of the creation of the state of
There can also be no doubt that we ignored the operating conditions in
As a third certainty, there is no doubt that there are moments in life when overturning precedents is very much in order. Sometimes we have to create something entirely new in life.
If we wanted to create something new in Iraq, the single most important thing we could have done is take into account all the highly specific dimensions of the existing Operating System in that country.
Who knows what we might have accomplished, if we had respected the givens of the situation? But that was not to be. Instead, we have met, and are meeting now, in the
In the following chapters I will discuss three of those dimensions (“Angel”) we needed to respect. Then in subsequent posts I will address the problem of how the Angel of Renewal hovers over both
The Angel of Artificial Unity.
How things begin is certainly a crucial element of an operating system.
The modern state of
The Hashemite monarchy was imposed by the British who took no account of the ethnic and religious differences within the geographical boundaries of what had been part of the
It’s far too simple to attribute this large scale failure to personal characteristics of our American leaders such as “stubbornness” or “willful ignorance.” Equally, it’s too simple to attribute the failure to a lack of “foreign policy experience.” Both played a role, without question.
The more shocking and troubling perspective is that the
If we had genuine unity in our country, we would not have stumbled into
How does this unfortunate linkage come about, i.e. how does a lack of unity in
Here is how the Swiss psychologist C.G. Jung addresses this issue for the individual:
“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.”
We ordinarily think that the ideal state is for an individual to remain undivided. That is true. But Jung is addressing a different situation, one in which problematic inner conflicts are already present but ignored. It’s the individual who remains blithely unaware of very real powerful inner conflicts who meets up with wrenching conflict on the outside.
For example, we all are familiar with the man who carries within him an image of authority figures as hostile and irrational. Everyone can see all too clearly how he precipitates conflicts over and again with his bosses. As a result, he gets fired or demoted, and moves from job to job, and tragically never fulfills the potential of his talents.
Yet he has an undivided view of himself, and experiences no conflict with himself or within himself, only with others. Just as long and only as long as the “problem” has its origins outside of him, he remains undivided. It is the acting out of his unacknowledged inner conflict that tears the world into “opposing halves.”
The same can and must be said of the
This psychological rule, as Jung calls it, this principle of how fateful conflicts are precipitated, would have been called an Angel in ancient times. It is part of the Operating System of how things work in an individual and in International Relations. When we ignored the context and the givens in
The Angel of Primitivity
In the previous chapter, I introduced the idea that the Angel of Artificial Unity hovered over the situation in
In Angel lore, there are Archangels who rule over subordinate Angels, who may be subordinate but nevertheless represent very important principles and elements of the givens of a situation. Thus the Angel of Precipitation and the Angel of Condensation are subordinate Angels, however important, to the more comprehensive
A hydrologic engineer who fails to take into account these subordinate Angels will create a primitive system. What is a primitive system or a primitive response? Here are some synonyms for primitive: crude, archaic, undeveloped, preliterate, at the lowest level of detail, retaining ancestral characteristics.
In sum, a primitive response is one that is undifferentiated, i.e. fails to account for the many Operating Principles and Operating Elements of an Operating System. That makes it crude and undeveloped.
The situation among Iraqis themselves, and equally on the side of
The next and conclusive step is for us in
The Angel of Intractability.
In the two previous chapters on the topic of Angels Hovering Over The War In Iraq, we met the Angel of Artificial Unity and the Angel of Primitivity. In this third chapter we meet an Angel who bars entry to a workable solution, an Angel who keeps us “stuck” in a no-win “operating system.”
The first thing this Angel has to tell us is that being “stuck” has a deep meaning.
In Book Three of the Angel Mysteries series, I show a picture of the ancient Greek Goddess Nemesis, who personified divine retribution. She ruthlessly dished out a comeuppance to those who deserved it; her name means to “give what is due.” Originally she was seen as the goddess who distributed both good and bad fortune simply on the basis of what was merited; depending on what was called for, she could be kind or implacable. Only later did she become associated primarily with drastic punishment for those who had transgressed.
Interestingly, she was a being who had wings like an Angel.
What Nemesis has brought to us in
Pots can be repaired but not if important pieces have shattered into dust. Then overcoming the problem is not a possibility. The only recourse is to deal with what has been broken—pay the price.
The Angel of Intractability now tells us that we are “stuck” in
But that is not the final word. There is also an Angel of Meaning who hovers over our
For more information on Angels as Operating Systems, see Books One, Two and Three of the Angel Mysteries series at Angelmysteries.com
Dr. Yoram Kaufmann’s article on Angels appears in Psyche’s Banquet, published by Assisi Foundation Books, PO Box 6033 Brattleboro,
 As an aside, it is very tempting to try to enumerate the differences that separate the Sunni and Shiite and draw the uncanny parallels with the differences that separate the red states and the blue states in the
Even the reversal of ruler and ruled, with the dominance of a Sunni majority in a land populated with a majority of Shiites, has a mirror in the dominance of the Republican party in political life in America, where the population by a large majority identifies itself as Democrats.
 (Volume 9 of the Collected Works. P. 71, paragraph 126)