Faces, One Shadow
I have a friend named Stephen Levine.
Stephen was a major figure in spiritual teaching, and in the death and dying
movement after Kubler-Ross’s writings made it acceptable to die.
Stephen has taught me a great deal over
the years. I have even been able to minimally repay his kindness by aiding a
member of his family with a medical problem.
Stephen once said: “Of course you have
many personalities. You’d be crazy if you didn’t.”
Each one of us is many people. That
includes the current Governor of New Jersey.
His major attraction as a politician was
his very distinctive style. He was in your face. He was blustery. He was clear
and he was in-charge. Basically, he took no crap from anyone.
What some of us thought was refreshing
leadership might turn out to be common bullying. That remains to be seen. But
what is tripping him up right now is that impression he left of being in
control of his domain juxtaposed with his insistence he knew nothing that his
staff was doing that led to the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge
in September. How could a hands-on guy not know what his senior staff and his
own appointees were doing to louse up traffic into Manhattan for four days? Who
can believe he asked no questions of anyone until reading about the results of
what turned out to be the untoward behavior of his underlings in the Wall
Street Journal in October? How could this bigger than life figure of
authoritarian control and power not know what nefarious deeds were being
perpetrated in his name? Can the guy claiming to be the guy in charge also be
the last guy to know?
At MD Anderson the same problem exists on
Ron DePinho claims to be a visionary
leader with entrepreneurial skills, scientific bona fides and a Harvard
pedigree. The Regents surely bought into that picture. He also claims to be a
man of the people having come from humble roots. He purports to be a
compassionate cancer fighter whose own family was seriously affected by the
disease. That’s one story, one face.
There’s another. He is single-minded in his
quest for power. He seems to act in a personally greedy fashion in not
eliminating conflicts of interest by hiding behind “waivers” granted by his
superiors to do things his own faculty cannot. He is self-serving and apparently
unaware of the need for ethical behavior or acceptable civil comportment in his position
as the leader of a major state agency. He is given to nepotism and a rather
unpleasant disposition at times. Can anyone truly believe that Dr. DePinho can
be the person most fit to lead the country’s leading provider of cancer care or that those with whom he has surrounded himself are representative of the core values of
Anderson of integrity, discovery and caring? To believe that would be to take
the Stephen Levine analogy of multiple personalities as a measure of sanity a
bit too far, wouldn’t it?
The Jungian concept of the shadow may be more
apt. As described by Robert Bly in his book A Little Book on the Human Shadow
(amazon.com in paperback), there is a person who follows each of us around. Everyone
can see this Other Us except ourselves. If you are basically good, he is
basically bad. If you are a murderer, he may be the part of you that is kind to
animals. It is the Shadow and you are usually in denial of his being, but he
often precedes you into a room like a storm warning siren on a crowded golf
course that everyone can hear but to which you are deaf.
Chris Christie appears to be a man of the
people, rolling up his sleeves to the sound of Bruce Springsteen, willing to
embrace a President from the opposing party when his constituents needed Sandy
Relief, and possibly being just what the doctor ordered for the United States
in 2016. Possibly. He could also be a big, fat bully stuck in a distant high
school reality (see Maureen Dowd’s op-ed in NY Times on Feb 5) who would stoop
very low indeed to punish a minor political rival and his own constituents out of
revenge for an endorsement slight by the mayor of an important bedroom
community near Manhattan. Or, he could even be both!
Ron DePinho may yet prove to be the man who
cures cancer with his Kennedyesque pronouncements about Moon Shots, Nixon-like
secret plan for high success cancer drug development and mice genetically hoteled
to optimize targeted therapy. Possibly.
I think most of MD Anderson has now
concluded that he is a small man willing to say or do anything to get what he
wants and what he wants is fame and money. He too could be both people, both
Christie casts a large shadow, but DePinho’s
may be more sinister. Only time will tell for the Big Man from New Jersey and
the smaller one from Boston.
Everyone’s got a shadow. It’s owning up to
your shadow when he behaves badly that really distinguishes good from great
Only at high noon do you cast no shadow. All the
rest of the time the shadow is there for all to see. All, that is, except for
you. Find your shadow. Own him or her. Be on guard for he or she will pop up at
the least opportune of times. And if you dare, make sure you tell your leaders
about their shadows. The great ones will already know. The good ones want to
learn. The others are to be avoided at all costs.