Trump reflections VIII


Continued from previous posts….

August 5, 2017

Trauma. What we see in Trump is typical trauma behavior. It’s not how everyone, or even most people, respond to or live out their trauma. But when we see that type of behavior (anger, reactivity, bigotry, impulsive behavior), it’s often rooted in trauma, in deep wounds.

Of course, it’s important to address the political issues, and it’s important to address the need for respect and a fact-based discourse in a democracy.

And it can also be helpful to remind ourselves that this is trauma behavior. It can be a spring board to look at how we respond to and live out our own trauma (whether it’s big or small), take it as an opportunity for trauma education, and also use it to look at how we can prevent and treat trauma in our society.

Trauma II. Similarly, I can’t help to wonder if not some Trump supporters are reacting to and living out their trauma in their support of him. Again, it’s important to address the political and social issues. But it can also be helpful to explore the possible trauma connections.

For instance, I wouldn’t be surprised if large portions of the US population are traumatized – directly and indirectly – by the significant social and economic inequality in the US. Which means they are traumatized by the policies coming out of neo-liberalism (which has become almost a religion in the US and most of the western world). And that’s why they support Trump because he, at the surface, seems to offer a way to deal with it. (Of course, he doesn’t.) His anger and bigotry plays to the trauma, and his words – at least during the campaign – spoke to the knowing of many of his supporters that neoliberalism is a cause of many of their problems.

In what way are people traumatized by social inequality? They are traumatized by lack of opportunities: lack of schooling, lack of good jobs, lack of money. And that, in turn, creates a life that creates more trauma (through drug use, illness, anger, depression etc.)

In what way is that connected to neo-liberalism? Neo-liberalism creates and deepens social and economic inequality. It’s built in. The wealthy get more wealth. The less wealthy tend to get even less wealthy, especially when the government doesn’t step in to moderate the worst effects of neo-liberalism.

In what way has neo-liberalism become a religion? It’s treated as sacred by many politicians and social commentators. It’s unquestioned. They tend to not address its inherent problems or any alternatives. (The best alternatives are known, but not by many and not implemented yet.)

In what way does Trump’s anger and bigotry play to the trauma? Some react to trauma with anger and bigotry. And to them, it feels like a relief to have someone like Trump in charge and visible in the media. He makes it OK to live out that particular reaction to trauma.

August 11, 2017

A new world. Sometimes, I see people talking about the resistance – to Trump, to neo-liberalism, to whatever damages our life-support system (ecosystems, Earth). To me, it’s a reminder of Joanna Macy’s three approaches to creating a more life-centered and life-enhancing society.

One is holding actions, which is where resistance fits in. Another is creating and sharing different worldviews, and especially those where we see ourselves as embedded in larger social and ecological wholes. (And realize that our own health and well-being is intimately connected to, and dependent on, the health and well being of the larger wholes.) And a third is developing and implementing life-centered alternatives.

Each one is essential. And while I like to stay informed about what’s happening in the less than life-centered world, my draw has always been to the second and third of the three. If I focused mostly on resistance, I would burn out very quickly. But when I focus on the second and third, I feel encouraged and energized.

This is also a reminder that for those who feel drawn to the holding actions, including the two other approaches in their lives will help them keep going. If they only focus on the holding actions, they are likely to burn out. (Or, at the very least, get cynical which is a form of burnout.) But if the two other ones are included, they are more likely to feel nourished, supported, and encouraged.

August 11, 2017

Politically correct? A quick note about the “politically correct” (PC) label that some like to use. To me, what’s often described as non-PC seems mostly reactive (coming from wounds). And what is often labeled PC typically seems more sane, balanced, informed, and taking the bigger picture. I am sure there are exceptions, but this seems to be the pattern. I am very happy to have views that may be labeled politically correct.

I assume those who use the PC label tend to have reactive (bigoted, racist, small minded) views and feel squashed because they are generally not accepted in modern western society. They themselves feel a need to try to appear more sane and balanced. So they assume the same goes for others. (Which may not be true at all.)

Of course, I know I am painting this somewhat black and white here. It’s possible to look at it in a more nuanced way. But it still, to me, seems that those who use the PC-label in a degoratory way often do so because they have more reactive and small-minded views, feel shamed for having them, and wish to break out of their self-imposed censorship and feelings of shame.

August 15, 2017

Expectations? Today, I read an article from NRK saying that many thought Trump would act more presidential once he took office. It may be that some did. But anyone familiar with his personality and past knew it would be very unlikely for him to change. (His biographers, for instance, were very clear on that issue.) And he is too impulsive to stick with any script handed to him by others. He is behaving exactly as we would expect him to, based on what we have seen from him in the past. If you are surprised, you haven’t been paying attention.

Not interested in politics? It’s puzzling to me when people say they are not interested in politics. Anything that shapes how we organize our society is politics. Everything we do is politics.

And, as someone said (sometimes misattributed to Pericles)…

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.

The only reason someone may say they are not interested in politics is that their lives are OK they way society happens to be organized, and they are not sufficiently interested in those whose life is adversely impacted by the way society is currently organized – either locally, regionally, or globally. Similarly, they are not sufficiently interested in how non-human species are impacted, or future generations. (Or they want to avoid conflict, which is understanable, and are dishonest about it.)

I want my friends to understand that “staying out of politics” or being “sick of politics” is privilege in action. Our privilege allows us to live a non-political existence. Our wealth, our race, our abilities [our religion,] or our gender allows us to live a life in which we likely will not be a target of bigotry, attacks, deportation, or genocide. We don’t want to get political, we don’t want to fight because our life and safety are not at stake. It is hard and exhausting to bring up issues of oppression (aka “get political”). The fighting is tiring. I get it. Self-care is essential. But if you find politics annoying and you just want everyone to be nice, please know that people are literally fighting for their lives and safety. You might not see it, but that’s what privilege does.

– Kristen Tea

August 16, 2017

Satire. Good satire tells (uncomfortable) truths, and replaces fear with laughter. There is no wonder dictators tend to try to squash satire poking fun at their leadership. Trump hasn’t gone that far, although he probably would like to. One example of current meme-satire is the Tiny Trump images. They tell a (uncomfortable) truth. They visually illustrate how Trump comes across as partly a little child in his views and reactivity, and partly as a grown-up trying to compensate for feeling small.

Illegitimate. We sometimes find ourselves in situations that reinforce or trigger what we fear the most. It’s partly because life offers a mulititude of situations, and some of them will do just that. And it’s partly because, in trying to avoid what we fear the most, we inadvertently sometimes create situations that brings us face-to-face with it.

One of Trump’s greatest fears seems to be to be seen as “not enough” in the form of weak, small, incompetent, powerless, and illegitimate. And, ironically but not surprisingly, by getting into politics he also gets himself into situations where others tend to see him as just that. (Among the earliest insults were losing the popular vote and the small size of the inauguration crowd.) It must trigger a great deal of fear in him and reactivity to that fear. And the reactivity takes the form of anger, denial, blame, misdirection, firing people, and so on.

We all do this. One of the blessings of the Trump presidency is that we all get a mirror for ourselves for this behavior (if we see it and decide to take it in), and there is slightly more public awareness and discussion about this dynamic since it’s so obvious in him.

August 17, 2017

Elections. There are many elements of today’s typical elections that seem a bit outdated. If I were to redesign the election process, I would perhaps include:

Mandatory voting, as they have in Australia. If only a portion of the population votes, the result tends to be scewed.

Instant run-off voting. This tends to reduce “strategic” voting.

Voting based on your answers to a set of questions. (How strongly you agree or disagree with each statement, and how important the topic is for you.) Today’s elections are far too much show and distraction, so answering questions, being shown which parties we agree with the most, and then selecting from that list seems to make much more sense. There is an election coming up in Norway, and I find the “which party do you agree with the most” questionnaires very helpful and more illuminating than listening to politicians debate.

And, of course, having more than just two parties to choose among and a parliamentary system based on coalitions.

How will it end? Right now, any one particular ending of the Trump presidency doesn’t seem very much likely than the other. Although if I had to bet on an ending, it would be that he will resign – out of frustration – and blame others for obstructing him. He may muddle through his period. His ratings may go up based on misguided support of the leader in a war or after terrorism. He may even get re-elected. Anything is possible. He may even get assasinated, as the Norwegian psychic has predicted, which would be one of the worst possible outcomes for everyone. (Apart from the Republicans who will take advantage of it.)

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