I woke up the morning after the US election feeling out of whack and completely off kilter. Soul-weary exhausted. I had so hoped that this would mark the day that he would just go away.
If politics is a reflection of our collective spirituality, how is it possible that my American neighbours could enable such a massive step backwards?
This presidential campaign preyed on anger, fear, and powerlessness. It revealed the chinks in democracy’s changing armour and a palpable shift in consciousness. It was one of the most divisive campaigns ever, and will be one of the hardest fractures to heal.
CS Lewis must have seen this coming 75 years ago when he wrote his insightful and prophetic Uncle Screwtape Letters:
“Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.”
If you believe that we each have our own day of reckoning, he will certainly have a whole lot of explaining to do. He brought out the worst in many of us. I was shocked at the intensity of the anger he brought out in me. But I know that I alone am responsible for what comes out in me. Not him.
He has given a voice to people who are angry and fed up, but really those people and those feelings have been there along. He just happened to be the opportunistic lightning rod to channel it. He is only the symptom of a much bigger dis-ease in almost half of the American people. Had the other side won, those people would still be out there. Still angry.
Judgement is one of the ugliest and most destructive human traits, and one of the hardest to overcome. The judgement we have piled on him and his supporters because they do not think or behave the way we think they should has only served to further divide us. In a democracy, there will never be absolute agreement on everything–some will be happy with the outcome and some will not. So maybe “agreement” should not be the goal. Maybe the goal should be to let go of our insatiable need to be right, and try to find a better way to coexist despite our differences. Where does one person’s rights end and another’s begin? Yes it’s complicated. Yes it’s a very delicate balance. Yes it’s much easier said than done. But it is the only way or we will destroy each other.
“We must mature into people who are, first and foremost, citizens of Earth and residents of the universe, and our identity and core values must be recast accordingly.” —Bill Plotkin
As messy and imperfect as democracy is, this is the process we have. At the very least the people have a choice, and some degree of influence over their own governance and future. Many countries do not have this privilege. America has chosen him, and now they must hold him accountable. I hope that there are enough decent people in his circle to balance him out, and that there are enough checks and balances in place to keep him in line. I hope that what he said after he won about “uniting the American people and healing wounds” represents the real person and intention, and that the hate he has spewed for months was only a tactic to get elected. Maybe I am naive.
Will he rise to the occasion? Will he win over his critics, or has too much damage been done? Will he succeed or will he implode? How much of what he said he would do, can he actually do? Only time will tell. I will try to reserve judgement until I have seen him in action.
Now that the choice has been made, the next steps are clear. If he works to truly and humanely improve the lives of all Americans, he should be supported. If he works a hateful, self serving, exclusionary, irresponsible, fear-based agenda in any way, shape, or form, he must be exposed, opposed, and conquered at every turn. On this there can be no compromise. He is being scrutinized like no other, and must be kept on a very short leash. The US could be on the precipice of a very dangerous, destructive, and revolting era, and it could get very ugly for a very long time. This is our wake-up call.
Of one thing I’m certain: hate cannot combat hate–many wise people have said this, and we know this to be universally true. Continuing to hate him and his supporters will get us absolutely nowhere.
We humans have a tendency to fear the unknown, and avoid that which is different from us. That fear and ignorance can often turn into hate. That’s the real war we should all be fighting.
We have survived other natural and unnatural disasters, and we will survive him. Nature has a way of taking care of itself. He is impermanent and containable. The sun will rise again tomorrow, and the day after that. In the meantime, we need vigilance but we must not be driven by fear. And we ALL need to listen, to try to understand, to self-reflect, and to be open.
If we can do that, then some good can come from all this. Maybe he’s here to teach us something about ourselves and to show us where we’re very clearly stuck. Maybe he’s here to shake us up and help us evolve. Nothing ever changes when we are too comfortable. Now that the fear has been exposed and the anger is out of the shadows, maybe the journey towards healing and civility can begin.