The eminent psychologist Gustav Carl Jung explained that every individual has two sides — the anima (mind, soul or true self) and the persona (assumed or externalized self).
Alphonse Karr, the 19th century French writer, observed man’s nature as having three characters: “That which he shows, that which he has and that which he thinks he has.”
These theories apply to the prominent personalities in the public consciousness. The past months of lockdown, people have been active with the internet, social media, and television. For connection and entertainment. There has been shown a diverse parade of interesting contrasting characters.
Pope Francis is one major character whose constant assuring, comforting, spiritual and paternal presence has calmed the fears of the Catholic laity and millions who have needed solace. Throughout the season of Lent, Easter until Pentecost. It was much better to watch him at the daily Vatican live Mass and rites than to cringe at the chaos of the pandemic around and the dark news on TV.
The decline of show business and the absence of a major network have made life harsher, difficult and disorienting.
In the local scene, some obscure neophytes were suddenly thrust in front of the TV camera. The image builders do not have time to polish and transform them into a more attractive package. The veterans have the advantage of past experience. They switch the charm on and off, as needed. The grizzled politicians growl and issue sarcastic statements. The supercilious instant power trippers appear on the small screen with conflicting, confusing statements.
Each one tries to upstage the others, to attract attention and to command respect and to gain credibility. It has become a mad, whirling circus. Between the storms of world health and politics, we are tossed around grasping for an anchor or seeking shelter in a temporary refuge. The new normal seems to be a surreal illusion. We should keep the faith and hang on tight during this endless wild ride.
“When I was young, I used to think that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know it is.” Oscar Wilde, British playwright, writer, and wit.
In the material world, money talks. It is a currency to purchase goods, services and only the essential things. On another level, it is used to persuade, motivate, coerce, influence, alter, and dissuade.
Money enhances one’s quality of life. It is a means to an end. There are tremendous psychic returns when it is used to improve the lives of others — through education, scholarship and research grants, community livelihood.
The stylish Duchess of Windsor, once remarked, “One can never be too rich nor too thin.”
Wealth has its limitations. It cannot buy character, breeding, natural elegance, and all the good qualities such as kindness, compassion and courage.
In the case of sudden fortune and fame, the arriviste is hurled into a different stratosphere wherein the nouveau riche flaunts possessions and moves in grandiose flamboyance. High above the earth and the pull of gravity, he is in orbit. Far removed from reality, he becomes giddy and dizzy with a distorted perspective, impaired vision and imbalance. The altitude and the attitude cause it.
Money has been equated with status, success and power. The lack of it spells social loss and failure.
The pretentious and calculating people quantify their neighbors’ assets. They measure net worth by a yardstick. Will they be useful? How much can we get? How much can they give?
The bottom line is vital.
Money has had a deteriorating, blinding effect on people. Those who are vulnerable change radically. The quality of their relationships diminishes in inverse proportion to the level of material success.
Fair weather and success attract false friends and sycophants. The number of satellites depends on a star’s estimated gross value. When the star dims, and his fortune is depleted, the predators and parasites vanish in search of greener pasture and new benefactors.
Money makes the world go round. It is all an illusion.
Before the virus crisis, people indulged in luxuries, safari trips and pilgrimages, fancy gadgets and expensive accessories in a carefree manner. Months into quarantine, there have been palpable changes.
Health is a priority.
People are more careful with money.
Luxury is irrelevant and not politically correct (PC). There are no events and no reasons to flaunt things.
A fog of melancholy and sad stillness has descended.
Money can prolong one’s life to a certain extent but it cannot make miracles to cure a critical illness.
People are aware that the brave frontliners need help. The homeless and the hungry need shelter and food. Generous and kind people give material goods to alleviate the plight of those who have lost family members and jobs.
One can see the power of prayer and how it unites people.
January was an illusion. We thought that this new decade would be a great one. It cracked and morphed into a shockingly different world. The stark reality of the new normal is so difficult to understand and accept.
But we must trust the Divine.
Despite the crisis, we can see the blessings. Nature and the earth are being refreshed and rejuvenated.
The inner transformation is happening.
Maria Victoria Rufino is an artist, writer and businesswoman. She is president and executive producer of Maverick Productions.