Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hot Seat

I was quite surprised last night, Bush--at that 4-Leo birthday party I mentioned to you the other day--to realize that most of the otherwise well-informed and sophisticated guests had never heard of a "hot seat." I had just assumed that you and our readers would be well aware of the meaning of this term. But it seems I was wrong, so a few words of explanation might be needed before I recommend that experience once again to your good self.

The hot seat was invented, to the best of my knowledge, at the Esalen Institute in the 1960s. (You might remember, Bush, that we were talking about Esalen only last week. Check back through these pages, in case you happened to miss those entries.) It was the famous--some might say infamous--Fritz Perls who introduced this practice of subjecting one member of his "encounter groups"--remember those?--to an intense, unsparing emotional grilling by the others. It was a way of holding feet to the fire, of demanding that the occupant of the "hot seat" hold him- or herself accountable, of cutting through the bullshit with which we commonly defend ourselves from the deep, sometimes uncomfortable truths of our lives. Fritz Perls' famous book was called "In and Out the Garbage Pail"--a title that gives you some idea of the psychological depths he was interested in unearthing.

I mentioned earlier my own birthday gift to myself: a hot seat with a select few of those men I have come to know and trust over the years in the work of The ManKind Project (patience, Bush: the relevance of all this will soon become apparent!) This past Friday evening, I got what I asked for. I sat down with five of the toughest, least compromising men that I know--men who have proven experience in cutting through all manner of bullshit, including their own, men with laser sharp intention--with the knowledge that I was not to be spared. I did this because I know that there are still carefully hidden parts of my own heart and soul which stand between me and the full realization of the potential I am given to work with in the brief span of my life here on earth. Might as well make the most of it.

It's not my intention, here, to bore you with the inner secrets of my soul, Bush. Suffice it to say that the hot seat allowed me an important opportunity to work through one of the less endearing qualities in my character that have limited my capacity to live and love fully. The men I had chosen were more than willing to put me to the test, and to demand an ever-deepening penetration into the dark side of my self. It was not easy work. I had plenty of resistance. It was hard to let go of the intricate system of controls that have enabled me, since childhood, to protect the soft inner core from harm. It was distinctly painful at times. But it was worth every minute of the experience, and I came away with a renewed sense of freedom from my self-imposed strictures. I felt that I had grown in some significant way.

So heartfelt thanks to these men, Bush, for their insight and their powerful persistence. And here's why I bother to mention this at such length: what a blessing it would be for yourself, your country, for the world, were we able to offer you the gift of a similar hot seat! In my judgment, you have surrounded yourself with men and women who are all too eager to do your bidding without question and who gladly buffer your ego from all assaults. You have not held yourself accountable for your actions, nor has anyone else had the guts to hold you accountable. To judge by your actions and their results, your failure to learn from them, and your reluctance to hold anyone else in your administration accountable, you have no idea what accountability means. My judgment. If integrity implies the congruity between what a man says and what he does, it is something that you loudly and publicly claimed for yourself before your election, but have yet to demonstrate since.

In short Bush, I believe that someone needs to hold you seriously to account. It's time to pause for a deep look into the inner Bush and take measure of the bullshit in which, in my judgment, you are currently drowning--as a man, and as this nation's presumptive leader. It's time, Bush, for your hot seat. A vain hope, to be sure, but I know that I'd be feeling a lot safer if you were required to subject yourself to this kind of accountability. And rest assured, I'm not just picking on you: Bill Clinton could have used a hot seat, too. If I had my say, I'd make it a requirement for the presidency. But then, I guess I'm still a wide-eyed, naive optimist, even at the age of seventy. I still believe that with a better understanding of who we are as flawed and vulnerable individual human beings, we can save the world from our worst selves.

1 comment:

PK said...

Make that a once a month for all presidents!!! Whether they like it or not, and no putting it aside. I believe that in AA they call that an intervention. Bush needs a huge intervention at this point in time! My friends give me mine from time to time:D. They wouldn't be friends if they didn't call me on stuff. It's nice to know you appreciate the fine art of 'the hot seat' too... Helps in the humility area.