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Politics and Character Arcs by Pamela Jaye Smith

The world today is all aswirl in the frenzy of political conflict. People are marching in the streets, having shout-down fights in chambers of legislation, passing or revoking laws depending on often narrowly-focused agendas, disparaging different groups and parties, and too often, killing each other over ideologies.

 

What the heck is this all about?

How can we better understand the dynamics of these dichotomies? And how can we possibly help individuals and groups to take a sane look at it all and begin to come together and rise above the conflicts for the betterment of all?

The intellectual class is always the first to be silenced by demagogues and repressive groups who are trying to control the thinking of the people through their lower emotions.

Obviously, story-tellers have a significant effect on others, in great part because they stir up people’s emotions and often get them to look at symptoms, situations, and systems and begin to demand change. Dangerous indeed for separatists, extremists, and just plain old selfishness.

 

Chakras and conflict

A way for you to address conflict – in any genre, style, time period, reality – is to create your characters using the chakras, those physically based and psychologically influencing centers of nerves and endocrine glands that help determine how we feel, think, and act.

Placing your characters on one particular chakra and then moving them about during the story offers excellent paradigms for character arcs. Temptations and falls, being stuck, aspiring to improve, being forced into a lower center, redemption to higher centers – they’re all great opportunities for engaging drama.

Let’s look at two chakras that are in obvious conflict all around the world, and think where your conflicting, and maybe conflicted, characters are, how they might change, how difficult that might be, what their rewards might be, and how you can best inspire your readers to step up and move forward towards improving things in the real world.

 

The chakras or Centers of Motivation and their relevant concepts are:

  • Root Center: Sheer Survival, connection to physical form
  • Sacral Center: Sex, Fear, Money
  • Solar Plexus:
    • Lower: Personal Power, Greed, Exclusivity, Individuality
    • Higher: Aspiration, Brotherhood, Inclusive, Group-oriented
  • Heart CenterUnconditional Love for all humanity, Self-sacrifice
  • Throat Center: Conscious Creativity, Communication
  • Ajna Center: Balance and Integration of all the chakras
  • Crown Center: Connection with higher realms of energy

Since everything that exists has its own identity and hence a “body,” this system also holds for relationships, organizations, political parties, corporations (granted individual human status in US law), events, cultures, nations, and the species of humanity.

Here are Character Profiles for the Lower Solar Plexus and Aspirational Solar Plexus chakras.

Since most humans process prana (life energy) through this dual Center, everything going through the Solar Plexus becomes a duality. This can explain how you get religious people preaching love being quite willing to slay the infidel or burn heretics at the stake. It could also explain Love-Hate relationships. It’s the conceptual cause behind the effect of groups warring within themselves, internecine strife, civil wars, two-party politics, familial splits, and idealism flip-flopping into fanaticism. It’s the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.

Lower Solar Plexus

  • Ambition
  • Anger
  • Appetites
  • Arrogance
  • Boundaries
  • Bullying
  • Competitive
  • Conspiracy theorists
  • Cult leaders
  • Fundamentalists/Radicals
  • Gangs
  • Greed
  • Humility
  • Individuality – necessary to not be bullied or painfully shy
  • Loyalty
  • Mercenaries
  • Narcissism
  • OCD
  • Perfectionism
  • Power-hungry
  • Respect for power and authority
  • Revolutionary
  • Sees others as ‘alien’
  • Self-confidence / or the opposite of low self-esteem
  • Selfishness
  • Separatism
  • Will power

 

Aspirational Solar Plexus

  • Aspiration
  • Altruism
  • Brotherhood, sisterhood, personhood
  • Caring for others
  • Charity workers
  • Chivalric
  • Compassionate
  • Courageous
  • Devotee
  • Diplomatic
  • Ecologically aware and active
  • Egalitarian
  • Evolutionary
  • Forgiving
  • Giving back
  • Greatest good for the highest number
  • Group-oriented
  • Healers
  • Inclusive
  • Mentors
  • Open-hearted
  • Relief workers
  • Service to others
  • Social-economic justice
  • Spiritual growth for self and others
  • Teachers
  • Thirst for meaning in life
  • Unions
  • Woke

 

Both chakras have a spectrum from weak to strong, and there can be some flaws and some fabulousness in both. One often wonders why good does not always prevail, how the selfish overwhelms the selfless. Persons operating from the Lower Solar Plexus have an awfully lot of sheer energy at their disposal, while someone operating from the Aspirational, if not yet fully grounded in their shift of focus, will not hold up against the onslaught of this concentration of raw power. A tenet of the Wisdom teachings is that “A higher focus is not necessarily a stronger focus,” as the world has often seen to its woe. Lord Acton seems right in observing that, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

A character’s actions as they move to the higher or strive to stay there had best include ways to strengthen the force of that focus and its effect in the world around them.  

To help mark a character’s move from LSP to ASP, you could have a dramatic ‘Road to Damascus’ event, an epiphany brought about by new knowledge and insight. Sometimes we need a blinding light to shift our perspective. Plus, sunshine is the best disinfectant.

 

Conclusion

In essence, all excellent story-telling conveys some psychological and social insights as well as some higher truth. That’s what makes it good — it reveals something universal to all of humanity through the dramatic conflicts and resolutions of individual characters.

May you find this particular approach to character creation of assistance in crafting your characters and your stories. You will be tapping into a timeless system of powerful communication and inspiration.


Further Resources

INNER DRIVES Create Characters Using the Chakras – Pamela Jaye Smith

Jonathan Haidt – THE RIGHTEOUS MIND: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion / and others

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

NOBODY WANTS TO BE THE GIRL ANYMORE – Geffrey von Gerlach [about the balancing of yin-yang in stories and life]  

POWER OF THE DARK SIDE – Pamela Jaye Smith   

SHOW ME THE LOVE All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories – Pamela Jaye Smith & Monty Hayes McMillan [Especially the chapters on Civil Society and Love of Land and Country]


SHOW ME THE LOVE! – All Kinds of Love for All Kinds of Stories

For any story to work your readers must be emotionally engaged. That is what can then entertain, enlighten, and educate your audience.

People experience all sorts of love at different levels in many different ways. Showing us some of these other loves will help create much more interesting characters and situations.

Understanding the deeper drives that affect how we act, react, and understand will give you better tools with which to create and motivate your characters and stories along their transformational arcs.

 

Chapters —

  1. Love of Land and Country
  2. Familial Love
  3. BFF – Best Friends Forever
  4. Warrior Bonding
  5. Love for Animals
  6. Love of Art
  7. Love of Adventure
  8. Love of Death & Destruction
  9. Interspecies Love
  10. Transformative Chivalric Love
  11. Breaking Up is Hard to Do
  12. Love of Community – Civil Society

Each chapter includes the defining myth and movie, psychology, examples, myth, symbols, written descriptions, and the Shining Moment.  

These different types of LOVE can provide you with character and story arcs in any genre and any style.

By knowing more about the psychological background of different types of love, by knowing how it has worked in myth, history, and current events, and by learning ways to express that type of love both in words and in visuals, you can make your stories richer and more memorable.

Make SHOW ME THE LOVE! a must-use in your go-to library for story-telling.

PAMELA JAYE SMITH is a mythologist, author, international consultant-speaker, and award-winning writer-producer-director with 30+ years in features, T...

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