Trump reflections VI

 

Continued from previous posts.

The right side of history. It can seem a bit arrogant to say that something is on the right or wrong side of history. After all, some will disagree, and who am I to make such a judgment?

At the same time, I feel it’s something we are allowed to say. What generally is supportive of life and people is on the right side of history. Policies that aim to support life and people, and especially the weakest ones and the ones with no voice, are on the right side of history. Why is that? It’s partly because the weakest and those with no voice includes future generations.

It’s also because these more inclusive policies tend to be the most beneficial to everyone in the big picture and over time.

Everything is politics. Everything is politics. We all have preferences, and those preferences are politics. They intersect with policies at a social level.

If we see something as not political, it’s often because the preferences built into it – whether it’s a religion, activity, or way of life – tend to be accepted or mirrored by the larger society. As soon as this is no longer the case, it becomes clear to us how political it really is.

Privilege. As many point out, saying that we are not interested in politics, or don’t want to get involved, comes from a position of privilege. It’s what we can say if life for us and those close to us is relatively good. It’s what we say if we ignore the situation of those less fortunate than us.

Why are spiritual people often more liberal? It’s completely possible to be into spirituality and still have a generally conservative view, especially if it’s a more kind and sane version of conservatism. And yet, spiritual people tend to be more liberal. I think there are several reasons.

One is that spirituality tends to come with a natural concern for the welfare of all beings. We realize, and it’s often an alive and lived realization, that we are all one. We are all expressions of Spirit. We are all connected as part of this living planet. And that concern is best reflected in more liberal policies.

Another is that religions have conservative elements built into them. Religions seek to preserve themselves and not change too much. And that fits a conservative mindset. Spirituality tends to be more open and experimental, and that fits a more liberal mindset. Of course, these are just general tendencies. Some branches of religion are quite liberal, and some traditions have spiritual elements that can be quite conservative.

Norwegian media. I have noticed that Norwegian media – and especially the public radio and TV station – sometimes present Trump’s words and actions as more normal and sane than they are. They do it by adding their own interpretation and context that would make sense in Norwegian politics but is factually wrong.

Intelligence. It’s no news that Trump is poorly informed, impulsive, reckless, and endangers people within and outside of the US with his behavior. Michael Moore pointed out one specific danger several months ago which is now starting to play itself out: Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community within the US and of allied countries is strained. He risks either not receiving important information, or disregarding it. A likely scenario is that he will respond in a typically uninformed and reckless way to a crisis.

It’s also interesting that the intelligence community seems to investigate Trump, and especially his connections with Russia, in order to get to a truth that may eventually lead to his impeachment.

Bully. Trump is relying on the classic tactic of the bully. Intimidate people so they submit or get out of the way. It may work if you are a CEO, although it’s a misguided approach with a great many drawbacks. It definitely does not work if you are the leader of a democratic country. There are so many ways this can come back and bite him, including through creating enemies of the media and intelligence community.

Insanity. There is a question of whether Trump has a personality disorder or would be diagnosed with a psychological disorder. It’s an interesting question, although it doesn’t really matter. His words and behavior disqualify him as a political leader.

In a more informal sense, there are other forms of insanity here which is as or more concerning.

The Republican Congress allows Trump to continue. They probably do so because he is still useful to them. For instance, he creates enough chaos and drama to distract from policies they are quietly implementing which normally would draw unwanted attention.

Some parts of the media – Fox News, Breitbart – not only support Trump’s obvious lies but generate their own. I doubt they understand or care what it may lead to.

Some people still support him.

Each of those three is a danger to our democracy and progressive social policies and institutions built up over decades and centuries.

There is also another insanity here which is even more serious. It’s the insanity of ignoring the two major issues of our time: Wealth inequality globally and nationally, and our grave ecological situation. Both are issues that threaten humanity as a whole. And both are issues either ignored or not taken seriously enough by politicians, the media, and many voters. This may not yet be a recognized form of insanity, but it definitely deserves to be.

Consensus reality. As humans and a society, we need consensus reality. We need to agree on basic things about our world in order to communicate, cooperate, and function well as individuals and a group. It’s dangerous enough that Trump’s words and actions erode democracy. It’s even more dangerous that it erodes our consensus reality.

Another side of this is that consensus reality helps us make decisions in everybody’s interest. If someone intentionally tries to break down consensus reality, it most likely means they want to do things not in the interest of society or the majority of people.

Conservatives. Kaci Kullman Five, a prominent conservative Norwegian politician, died yesterday. She is a reminder that conservatives can be sane, mature, grounded, and speak up for human rights (women’s rights) and nature. She was and did all of that.

In contrast, it seems that the Republicans in the US have gradually gotten more unhinged over the last couple of decades. More accurately, they serve big money interests and gain power to implement their policies by appealing to “values”. As is obvious with Trump, they are also increasingly denying easily provable facts.

Inclusiveness. As I have mentioned before, I tend to judge policies by their inclusiveness more than whether it’s traditionally liberal or conservative, or authoritarian / non-authoritarian. How wide is the circle of concern? Does it include the weakest in society? Does it include ecosystems? Does it include future generations? And that inclusiveness can be found among both liberals and conservatives.

Main aspects. Some of the main things going on here, as I see it right now:

(a) Very genuine and understandable dissatisfaction with how politicians have dealt with big money interests and wanting a change from Obama. I fully agree with this, although see Sanders as having a far better solution than Trump. Unfortunately, the Democratic party went out of their way to make sure Clinton and not Sanders became their candidate.

(b) Many Trump supporters are not happy with many aspects of Trump.

(c) Some (many?) Trump supporters get most or all of their information from Trump, Fox News, or Breitbart.

(d) It’s hard to see that the Trump presidency will be of benefit to the country, to those voting for him, or even to himself. He tries to run the country as he has his family business, which won’t work. He actively tries to undermine democratic institutions and processes. He is impulsive and reactive. He justifies his (often misguided and uninformed) policies with lies. He uses a strategy of scapegoating and othering which history has shown, over and over, can be very dangerous.

They know. It’s important to seek to understand why people voted for Trump, and why some still support him. (They were misinformed, they are single issue voters, they are bigoted, they were caught up in the fear-mongering, they were swayed by the “othering” rhetoric etc.) And still, they know what they did. At the very least, they should have known. They would have known if they had done the smallest amount of research. By voting for Trump, these people actively support what he stands for and what he is doing, including erosion of democracy, continued fear-mongering, scapegoating, erosion of a sane and informed reality-based public discourse, and more. I know this is harsh, but it’s one part of the picture.

Anti-democratic, yes, but anti-American? Trump’s words, actions, and policies are clearly anti-democratic, as are many of the current Republican policies and strategies (gerrymandering etc.) Some say it’s also anti-American, but is it? It all depends on what we think of as “American”. If we see inclusiveness, democracy, a free press, human rights, and a sane and informed public discourse as essential US traits, then yes.

If we don’t – if someone values the reverse, and many apparently do – then Trump’s actions are not anti-American. In reality, they come out of impulses that seem very much alive among portions of the US population.

I would say his policies are and anti-civilization, anti a society that functions well for most or all in the long term, and anti a living Earth capable of supporting human life on any significant scale.

Make America great again. This is pretty obvious and lots of people have pointed it out: When Trump talks about making America great again, he refers to a situation that never existed since the US was never that great to large portions of the population. He refers to a time where white Christians were in the majority and minority groups were actively discriminated against.

National security. Trump likes to talk about national security. It’s ironic since his strategies – including creating a feud with his own intelligence community – likely puts the US more at risk than any terrorist group.

War. Again, this is pretty obvious. Something will happen that creates an excuse for Trump and the Congress to create another war, and get away with even more of the things they want to do. Bush Jr. did it, and Trump most likely will as well.

Political correctness. To me, what’s referred to as “political correctness” means being respectful, informed, and inclusive. It means treating others as we would like to be treated if we were in their situation. Those who talk about it in a disparaging way often seem to do so from frustration with not feeling they are allowed to be reactive, less reality based, and even bigoted.

Liberal means weak, and weak means bad? Some conservatives like to brand kindness, inclusiveness, and forward thinking as either naive or weak, with the implication that weakness is some sort of character flaw – a bad thing to be avoided.

It’s interesting how both of those may come from excluding “weakness” from our self-image. If we do, we tend to exclude or ignore people we see as “weak” – and especially minorities of any kind. And we see weakness as bad or something to avoid.

If we do the reverse, if we embrace, befriend, and include any “weakness” in ourselves, we tend to do the same for people who may be in a “weak” position in society, and we know from our own experience that weakness is not bad. It’s one of the things that makes us human. It’s one of the things that can open our heart, help us find a sense of receptivity and real humility, and recognize ourselves in others.

And is it naive to act from kindness, inclusiveness, and forward thinking? Not at all. Doing so is our best bet in creating a society that works for all, including future generations.

Economy. I see that some think the Trump presidency will be good for the economy. It’s hard for me to see a realistic scenario where that will be true. Trump is used to running a family business, he has no experience in leading a country. He has run his businesses into the ground (bankruptcy) several times. He is notorious for treating his business partners and employees terribly. He acts in a rash and impulsive manner. He has very little knowledge of how the real world works. He seems to base his actions on deliberate lies and misinformation. He antagonizes others, including other countries. His way of “putting America first” is likely to first and foremost hurt the US, including the economy.

March 11, 2017

I haven’t written anything here for a while, partly because I have not been in a writing modus and partly because there isn’t much more to say. The essence for me still is:

(a) The democrats failed many of their most likely voters by cozying up to big money and supporting policies benefiting corporations and not regular people.

(b) Some Trump voters are single-issue voters and chose to overlook the rest (I assume these are mostly Evangelical Christians?). Or they were/are misinformed by Fox News, Breitbart, and similar sources, and act on very distorted information.

(c) Many of Trump’s and the Republican policies will most hurt those who voted for Trump and the Republicans. (No news there.)

(c) If the democrats don’t change course (e.g. adopting Bernie’s policies more full scale) AND people don’t receive more accurat information  we may see eight years of Trump and a Republican congress.

I am not saying that mainstream media isn’t biased (they are certainly biased in a pro-corporate globalization direction), or that we don’t all tend to seek out information that confirm how we already look at the world. But the Fox/Breitbart segment of the media is especially shameless in terms of spreading obviously false information.

March 15, 2017

Islam is the problem? This is something I haven’t written about much before since it seems so obvious. Is Islam the problem? Clearly not. Islam is just an Abrahamic religion like Judaism and Christianity, and the vast majority of Muslims are ordinary good people just like anyone else. So why has Islam been made into a scapegoat?

It’s part of the “othering” that some people like to engage in so they can blame and take out their pain on whole groups of people. It’s a good projection object for the shadow for some people.

Islam is a good projection object since many in the west personally don’t know Muslims.

Neo-liberal/corporate globalization and US foreign policies have been harsh towards countries that are predominantly Islamic, so there has been very understandable resistance from these groups of people. And some of this resistance has taken the form of terrorism committed by Muslims.

Western media and politicians tend to focus on Muslim terrorism and often overlook that more terrorist acts in the US have been committed by right-wing Christians.

Some on both sides intentionally frame it as a battle between Islam and Christianity. They both scapegoat the other side, and both tend to be quite extreme and tend towards violence.  (They are often mirror images of each other.)

The irony here is that the ones most harmed by neo-liberal globalization are the ones who tend to buy into this polarity. They see each other as enemies. And they tend to overlook the real and more fundamental problems – including national and international policies and agreements favoring multinational corporations over the needs and interests of ordinary people, ecosystems, and future generations.

As I see it, it’s the job of the media, politicians, and all of us to point out the “othering” dynamic and it’s inherent flaws and dangers. It’s not based in reality. It distracts from the real issue which is the damage neo-liberal globalization is doing around the world. And it is dangerous. It’s a form of dehumanization which leads to inhumane policies and violence.

Trying too hard. Trump seems to have a great need to be admired, envied, feared, and – when it comes down to it – loved. And all of that just reveals his experience of himself as someone who doesn’t have it. When he tries so hard, it shows the extent he feels he doesn’t have it. When we embrace more of ourselves and find more of a sense of wholeness, we see the futility and pain inherent in that type of strategy. And yet, some seem to fall for it. I assume those are people who haven’t yet found some sense of wholeness and OKness with different parts of themselves.

Ideologies vs what works. Running a society in a mature way means to act on research and what’s shown to work. This is happening to some extent in many democracies today, and perhaps especially in the northern European countries. (Although even there ideologies sometimes override what we know works.) The US – with Trump and a Republican government – has gone far in the direction of ideology and in dismissing research and what we know creates a better society for everyone.

Of course, we all operate and perceive from ideologies. Wishing to be guided by research and what works is in itself an ideology. Research and identifying what works is also influened by ideology. And wishing to create a society that works for everyone, ecosystems, and future generations is an ideology. (Another ideology, represented by most Republicans, is to prioritize special interests – often those of the most wealthy – at the expense of everyone else.)

Playing out conditioning. As mentioned so often before, in life in general – and politics in particular – we are all playing out our conditioning. Genetic, ancestral, cultural, and from personal experiences. Life is playing out its own conditioning.

Ecosystems play out their conditioning. Species play out their conditioning. Individuals do the same. And what we see in society and politics is life playing out its conditioning. Each of us is playing out our own conditioning. And that’s good to notice and be aware of.

Of course, when we do, that’s also a form of conditioning. We don’t need to “escape” conditioning. We can’t. And we don’t need to. Nothing within form or content of awareness could exist without conditioning. Conditioning is iherent in life, and what allows anything at all to exist. But it is helpful to notice and be aware of playing out conditioning.

March 20, 2017

The real problem. The real problem here has to do with worldviews. We have an economic and social system that assumes we operate independent of our larger living system. We have a worldview that’s fragmented and says we are separate objects while the reality is that Earth is a seamless system that we are all temporary and local elements of (similar to vortexes in a river). As long as we operate on a worldview at odds with reality, we are going to have a host of endless problems – all created by ourselves.

April 2, 2017

I haven’t written bere for a while, mainly because there isn’t much more to say and also because parts of mainstream media is better than they were at being direct about what’s going on. (See, for instance, the very – and appropriately – blunt editorial in LA Times called Our Dishonest President.)

Trump has the emotional maturity of an emotionally damaged eight year old. And many of his followers still support him. Although they have their reasons, and it’s important for strategic reasons to understand these, they also have no excuse for staying uninformed, racist, or misguided in being single-issue voters. It’s the duty of all citizens to be informed and promote policies that are in the interest of all of us. Instead, they chose to support policies that – in most cases – harm themselves.

April 6, 2017

Using their values. As is obvious today, arguing using facts generally won’t change people’s minds. If anything, it often makes people’s opinions even more entrenched. That’s yet another reason why it’s important to argue a point using the values of the recipient.

(a) What are their values? Listen to them. Ask.

(b) How do these values fit with X? (Where X is a strategy that’s inclusive and supports life at all levels and in the short and long term, for instance universal health care, free quality education at all levels, sustainability etc.)

(c) How do I tell an engaging and compelling story that shows how their values match these solutions and policies? How do I make it personal to them?

For instance, why are many conservatives in the US skeptical to climate change and creating a more sustainable society? It seems to make no rational sense. Somehow, their values have been hijacked to support policies that often are against their interests – and often their values. (Policies that are in the interest of only small segments of the population, and at the expense of society as a whole, ecosystems, and future generations.)

Say their values are….. creating a good world for their children and decendants, valuing God’s creation, maintaining healthy and supportive communities. I imagine these are values among many conservatives in the US. And it’s pretty easy to show that solutions such as universal health care, free quality education at all levels, and sustainability are aligned with those values, and good strategies to achieve goals aligned with their values.

Of course, it has to be genuine. We have to find these values in ourselves and find genuine connections between these values and the world we would like to see. And it will only resonate with some conservatives. But that’s a good start.

Post-modern nightmare. Trump’s way of dealing with “facts” is nightmare taken right out of post-modernism. In post-modernism, we realize that everything is a story, including data and facts. Taken to a naive extreme, they are all equal and equally valid. And from a more grounded and mature perspective, we know that some fit our experience better and that it’s important to have a consensus reality to work with. We can know it’s a fabrication, and we can still mostly agree on it and use it in everyday life. That’s how modern democratic societies mostly work.

Trump, Fox News, Breitbart and others take the post-modern insight to an extreme. They know very well what they are doing, and they do it to confuse, mislead, and – ultimately – for profit. Of course, authoritarian rules throughout history have done this. It doesn’t require postmodernism. Just a willingness to manipulate and mislead.

And it requires people willing to be manipulated and misled. Willing because it may give them temporary satisfaction.

May 18, 2017

Update. I don’t have much more to say here. What’s unfolding is all quite predictable, at least in the big lines. Trump is reckless with information and military actions. His unpredictability makes it hard for allies and security services to trust him, and it can easily trigger a serious military conflict somewhere in the world. He doesn’t know how the government works. He repeatedly creates reasons for impeachment, and it may go that way should the Republicans decide he is too much of a liability. His supporters still support him, largely because they receive their information from him or his media allies.

And it’s hard to say exactly where it will go from here. He may decide to resign, either from frustrations with the check and balances of democracy or because he is at risk of impeachment, and then blame his “enemies” for making his job impossible. He may create a war which may give him more support due to some misguided attitude Americans have to support their leader in times of war no matter what (or he may be impeached because he is too reckless). And it’s possible he will last four years and get re-elected. It’s hard to see that he can last that long with the amount of frustration he must be experiencing, but I guess he is used to – and may even enjoy – that level of drama and frustration.

My guess is that he will resign and blame his “enemies” so he can save face and still be a “winner” in his own view.

The new world. We are invited to create and support a new world, one that’s life centered and supports life at all levels – from ecosystems to individuals of all species. We have all the solutions to have a very good start if we decide to go in that direction and support and implement these solutions on a larger scale. We have the opportunity to create a new economy that’s as innovative and successful – and creates as many jobs – as any we have seen before. We have a very attractive possibility in front of us, and the alternatives are equally unattractive. (The main alternative is to continue on the same course and keep creating a great deal of ecological problems, which then – inevitably – become social and human problems.)

I guess what’s happening now is quite predictable as well. We have the old world order, especially clearly represented by Trump and the US Republicans, which desperately try to hold onto a world that has no future. We have some that try to maintain a middle ground, represented by the US Democrats and many traditional political parties in Europe, and are only moderately successful. And we have those who envision and partly live this new approach. These are still mainly overlooked by mainstream media so they are less visible.

How will this unfold? My guess is that since most countries and political leaders still hold on to many outdated approaches, we will have to live through more of the consequences of social inequality (unrest, wars, uprisings) and ecological destruction (lack of basic resources, diseases, unrest, wars). This may go on for a few decades.

And yet, we do have the solutions. We know what to do. One approach to this change is to make this information widely available, show that the alternatives can be very attractive, elect the right leaders, and restructure many aspects of our society so that what’s right (socially and ecologically) is also the easy and attractive options for governments, corporations, and individuals. More likely, some enlightened corporations (Tesla etc.) will lead the way and show that more life-centered solutions are more attractive all around, and people and elected officials will follow. In some regions of the world, we may also have political leaders who will restructure society in a more deep and thorough way.

Social inequality. To many of us, Trump and his supporters seem unhinged. Unhinged from reality. They appear reactive, unconcerned with reality, uncaring, irrational, acting from short-term perspectives, acting from narrow self-interest, and acting so they directly or indirectly harm themselves and others.

They don’t act like children. Children are usually far more mature and healthy, and far more caring. They act like emotionally damaged children. And, in a sense, they are since they live in a society of significant inequality that does not take care of everyone. This is how people who are harmed – through social inequality – act. Of course, that’s not new. We have seen this throughout history. It seems to be part of human life.

The best remedy may be to create a society that works for as many people as possible (the post-WW2 northern European societies may, so far, be the best examples of this). People living in a society where they feel included and cared for, where they receive good and free education, where the basics of life is taken care of, tend to know how rare and precious it is and want to maintain it, they tend to want to extend it to others, and they tend to – in general – appear a bit more mature (and less damaged).

Irrational. Human behavior is often irrational. We tend to focus on what’s immediate, dramatic, and emotional. The media knows that and plays into it by making news into entertainment and drama. That’s how they get viewers or readers.

And all of it is from evolution. For our ancestors, it was important to pay attention to anything that stood out and anything dramatic, and they rarely needed to pay attention to the big picture or slow trends. In a democracy, we need to get people to pay more attention to the serious and slower trends, and less on shorter term drama and entertainment. And we can do just that by taking evolution and how people really function into account, instead of wishful thinking about how people “should” function.

If we have sufficiently informed political and business leaders, we can set up structures so that what’s easy and attractive is also good in the long term and in the big picture.

And we can speak to people in general in ways that works with the mechanism put into us by evolution: Tell compelling stories. Make it simple, immediate, and personal. Show how it aligns with the values and identities they already have. Make it genuinely attractive.

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