Slaughter of the Innocents: An Archetypal Understanding of the Tragedy of School Shootings
Presented by Dr Michael Conforti,
Jungian Analyst and Founder/Director of The Assisi Institute
About this Lecture:
As part of The Assisi Foundation’s Public Program Series, we develop seminars that focus on programmatic themes such as Crimes Against Humanity. In a time where the personal and collective psyche seems to be yearning for a radical shift in perspective and approach, it is our hope that these programs may support our global community to face, understand and respond to unsettling and turbulent times in more soulful, transformative and healing ways.
The purpose of our Public Program Series is to:
- Reach a broad global audience about the very real and globally collective issues we are facing in the world today;
- Raise awareness and funding to advance the global reach of the Assisi Foundation’s work on archetypes and the objective psyche; and
- Offer an understanding of the meaning, significance, and purpose of the archetypal patterns that lie beneath the headlines.
“Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.”
Throughout history children have been revered and loved. They have also been feared, sacrificed, and slaughtered. And yet we still understand so little about why this occurs.
Today in the United States we find some dark archetypal force re-erupting within humanity and, once again, targeting innocent children as its victims. It is evident that we need to address gun laws, and work with experts who will help to better protect our children in the schools. While these are essential and well-meaning interventions, they do not address the underlying reasons for these ongoing child murders. The escalation of school shootings not only appears to be immune to our preventative measures but seems to thrive in this culture of hate and fear.
Sadly we are, yet again, witnessing the Slaughter of the Innocents.
With so much to live for, so many tomorrows, our children are shot down in broad daylight. They have lost their future. Their parents, families, and communities – now faced with the unimaginable task of burying their children – are forced to live forever more with this horror. No one should ever be in a position to take the lives of our youth, of our future. This dark force – which also shaped the atrocities occurring during the Crusades, the Holocaust, and other crimes against humanity – needs to be stopped. And it can only be stopped if whatever is driving it is understood.
Unfortunately the killing of children is part of our collective history, and can be traced back to religious stories, mythology, and even fairy tales. This provides chilling evidence that the killing of children exists as an archetypal reality within the psyche. The historical and disturbing symbolic meaning of child sacrifice and murder has now been literalized and concretized in the ongoing proliferation of these killings.
In much the same way that C.G. Jung sought to understand the archetypal motive forces driving the Holocaust, it is imperative that we understand what unconscious forces may be responsible for this escalation of child killings in our world today. Perhaps in studying these texts we can understand something of what exists within the Psyche which makes children such a ready target for rage, hatred, envy, and more – and why this is occurring within the United States more than in any other country in the world.
We need to look no further for proof that this initiative is a necessary response. In the United States there were 24 school shootings last year, while in 2022 the country has already witnessed 27 school shootings from January through to May. In addition, the World Population Review provides these tragic statistics: over a 9 year period (from 2009 – 2018) the country with the highest incidences of school shootings was the United States with a total of 288 shootings. The second highest number of school shootings over the same period was in Mexico (8 shootings), followed by South Africa with 6, and India with 5.
- Addresses what may be stirring within the dark collective Psyche resulting in these acts of brutality;
- Looks towards understanding how we can hold the tensions between grief, activism, and the need to view these tragedies as the emergence of a powerful, destructive force within the Psyche;
- Aims to offer an understanding of the archetypal nature of these brutalities.
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