Myth & Justice VI.6 (“Restorative Justice”)

The six installments in this “Myth & Justice VI” blog post are all connected to the idea of empathy as a rational concern for the plight or well-being of the other or others. These and the previous series installments have also shown that this rational concern is a feeling-toned value often associated in image and symbol with the feminine form. Whether this form is called Iustitia, Themis, Athena, Sophia, or Wisdom, there can be no doubt that the idea of a “right order” based on empathy, prudence, foresight, prosperity, and communal well-being (or commonwealth) have been around since humankind began telling stories about its origins.

Take a moment to contemplate the just-mentioned values and their eternal association with the feminine. This positive archetypal association is sharply contrasted with how both the feminine and feeling have been devalued, viewed as weak and even sinful at least since Eve’s appearance in the book of Genesis.*  Notwithstanding the Hebrew / Old Testament passage involving Wisdom in the last blog entry, this distrust of the feminine has spread out across time, cultures, and religious traditions. So Mythfire poses a question: “Has the distrust of the feminine finally been overcome or is it still alive and ‘well’ today?”

Regardless of other factors and considerations, the political debate over empathy described in an earlier entry, the passionate and fearful proclamation that President Obama is leading us down the road toward socialism, the claims that gays will somehow disrupt the (masculine) morale, discipline, and order of other soldiers in the military, that ordained gays or still, in some cases, ordained women will disrupt the order of the (masculine) organized church and, finally, that married gay couples will similarly disrupt the structure of society (structure also being a masculine trait) — all of these are a modern form of the fear and distrust of the feminine and its related values — i.e., its values of relatedness.**

Despite this troubling conclusion, anyone who has been following the “Myth & Justice” series knows that Mythfire is not advocating some proverbial angry overthrow of the patriarchal status quo. Instead, via a more informed discussion of empathy and an acknowledgement of the timeless wisdom of the feminine feeling values, Mythfire has attempted to restore the feminine foresight and wisdom conveyed by the word jurisprudence, to restore Athena to the side of Zeus, to restore “In Goddess We Trust” as the animating spirit behind “In God We Trust” – to restore, then, as in the last blog entry, Wisdom to the side of God at the beginning of Creation. Only when their relationship is valued will real harmony be possible for the individual and collective.

By no means is this restorative move uncomplicated or pain-free; more to the point, a restoration of the feminine feeling values on an individual and collective level cannot occur without the masculine energies of discrimination and decision-making. The traditionally masculine qualities of order, morale, structure, discipline, organization, etc., (as alluded to in the italicized paragraph above), are all crucial to the healthy integral functioning of a society. Symbolically this is where Iustitia or Themis’s sword must bewielded as precisely as possible; psychologically this is where the thinking function comes into play. Both sword and thinking have to do with clarity, illumination, analysis/discrimination, and practical implementation. The feeling function/balancing scales ask “which value at this particular time is most needed and do we therefore value most highly?” Then the sword and thinking function follow with “how do we best realize or implement this chosen value?” “How and to what degree is it feasible?”

Undeniably, one of the sword’s symbolic meanings is the threat and administration of punishment to the guilty. However, it is equally undeniable that the sword and its powers of discrimination are concerned just as much with precision in models, frameworks, and blueprints. In other words, its love of logic manifests most clearly in attention to logistics. Put to work this way, the masculine sword and thinking function cut through the emotional fog, the fears and desires of the ego, assess potential perils and pitfalls, and when it has been determined that the times demand a change, they shine forth into the dark and still somewhat scary Unknown. (We see the thinking function hard at work in both the Pentagon’s long-term in-depth study as to if and how gays may be openly admitted to the U.S. military and Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ resulting conclusion that Congressional approval rather than Supreme Court order provides the time needed for effective training and preparation for this change.)***

In most if not all story-telling traditions, i.e. myth, fairy tale, legend, etc., the sword also symbolizes truth. However, if the modern/post-modern age has taught us anything through the discoveries of physics, psychology and evolutionary theory or in political developments such as women’s suffrage and Civil Rights, truth is neither absolute nor unchanging. Just as the U.S. Constitution has needed to be (re-) interpreted anew and have its meaning clarified from time to time or have amendments added,  the human constitution since its first appearance on this planet  has also proven individually and collectively to be a living constitution. In fact, as our understanding of human nature improves, the sword and thinking function — through the processes of clarification, differentiation, and integration — help to reconstitute the very truth or truths by which we live.

In this regard, it is important to remember that the word “truth” etymologically goes back to the Old High German triuw which means “loyal” and the Old Norse tryggr which means “trust.”  The first point Mythfire would like to make is, then, that “truth” is itself a heart-soul/feeling value rather than something written in stone for eternity. Second, in putting forward the idea that we must once again learn to trust rather than distrust the feminine and its related values – its values of relatednessMythfire argues that this is a truth and a trust whose time has come.


On Saturday: The conclusion of “Myth & Justice” provides several examples of restorative justice.


*cf. 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Ecclesiasticus 25:24; Additionally, it has been argued that the “trust” and exertion of masculine energies was essential for a time in order for civilization to develop in a natural, healthy fashion. Mythfire is not debating that point in this series, only that, a return to an intelligent balance between masculine and feminine, thinking and feeling, is needed in today’s world.

**Is it any wonder that a New York Times editorial last week on congressional blocking of gays in the military took as its title “The Senate Stands for Injustice”? Link: Next, the phrase “values of relatedness” in the post was finally chosen over “values of relationship(s).” No matter our personal relationship with or to another individual or group, by virtue of being a member of the human race we all share hopes, fears, desires, beliefs, and a common stake in our future. All of these are at the root of our “values of relatedness,” without which we cannot have a healthy polis or nation — today or in the future.


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