Continued from two previous posts.
Short memory. I can’t help thinking that what we see today – Trump becoming president and what he promotes gaining momentum in the western world – is allowed to happen only because people have short memories. They have already forgotten, or perhaps not really learned, about Hitler and WW2. They don’t know what mass scale intolerance, leaders acting on emotional reactivity, and rule by the financial elite, leads to. Only the oldest still have a personal memory, and in countries with poor education – such as the US – people haven’t learned the lessons thoroughly enough through school or the media.
That’s also why some of his supporters said “what do we have to lose?” when what they have to lose is a great deal. At least from the outside, it seems they don’t realize what they have to lose, or are educated well enough to know it viscerally. They don’t seem to have the larger historical picture.
This not the reason it happened, but it’s the reason it was allowed to happen: Those who still personally remember are too few to have a significant impact, and past lessons are too remote for a large enough segment of the population.
Diagnosing. I am not a fan of diagnosing anyone in public or at a distance. It’s unprofessional and can too easily be used to attack the person rather than addressing the issues. In Trump’s case, his very public behavior is enough to disqualify him from any position of leadership.
In a political context, there is no need to try to figure out the deeper why’s and how’s of his behavior. It’s only a distraction.
Trauma behavior. Still, in a psychological context, it can be interesting to explore what may be going on, knowing that it’s not really possible to diagnose at a distance. Being familiar with trauma behavior from working with clients and studies, I recognize what seems like trauma behavior. (Reacitvity, impulsivity, intolerance, dehumanizing others, recklessness, thin skinned, vengeance, short sightedness, not caring if what he says is true or not as long as he gets what he wants.) Trump seems to have made living from these trauma symptoms a badge of honor which only makes it more dangerous.
Repeating traumas. People who are traumatized tend to get themselves into situations where they repeat the trauma. They get themselves into those situations because it’s a familiar pattern. (It feels familiar and comfortable at some level, and they act from the trauma which creates similar situations as the initial traumatic situation.) And it’s also an invitation to recognize the trauma and seek healing for it. Some of Trump’s supporters may support him because his trauma behavior is familiar to them from their families and their own life.
More importantly, they may support him because they have had to suppress their own most destructive reactive trauma behavior due to social pressure and expectation, and here is someone who acts it out in public and, in essence, says “it’s OK to live and act from destructive reactive trauma behavior”. It can feel liberating for them to see it, and then use it to allow themselves to live more openly from their own trauma pain. Or, more precisely, act from their reactivity to their trauma pain which can take the form of anger, blame, bigotry, overly simplistic solutions, not caring about facts, and so on. It can feel good in the short run, but it’s definitely destructive in the longer run. In this case, it’s destructive on a large scale.
Said another way, it can feel good for them to say “fuck you” to the elite, but in this case, they only hurt themselves.
Action and compassion. This is pretty obvious. We can strongly oppose Trump’s policies, call him out when he is spreading untruths, and support what we want to see in the world. At the same time, it’s fully possible to have compassion for him and his pain. His pain is quite evident. He wouldn’t act the way he does if he wasn’t acting on his own pain. And we can have compassion and seek to understand his supporters. The two go hand in hand. They even support each other. (Strong action makes it easier to find compassion, and compassion leads to more clear and strong action.)
Disruption. In a bigger picture, who knows what will come out of this. In an evolutionary context, disruption often leads to new traits in existing species, new species gaining momentum, and a new course for evolution. The early oxygen crisis led to new opportunities for life. Dinosaurs dying out created space for mammals to flourish. Who knows what a Trump presidency will lead to in the bigger picture. It may or may not be what many of us wish for or would have chosen, but it may be something we can appreciate the gifts in.
Integral view. Life is a whole and we look at it from different angles. That means it’s good to look at anything from multiple angles to get a fuller picture, while also knowing that none, nor all of them together, is a final or absolute truth. If we want to be more systematic about it, we can use an integral model or map such as Ken Wilber’s. This is also true when we look at the Trump situation. Some of the “default” angles for me include: (a) The big picture. Lila. It’s the play of life or the divine.
Some of the “default” angles for me include:
(a) The big picture.
(i) Lila. It’s the play of life or the divine.
(ii) We don’t know what will come out of it. Historically and evolutionarily, disruptions often lead to something we find valuable and attractive, at least in the longer run. (iii) It’s an opportunity for each of us to live what we want to see in the world.
(iii) It’s an opportunity for each of us to live what we want to see in the world.
(b) Social/political. One of the reasons we have Brexit and Trump is neoliberal corporate globalization, international agreements aimed at maximizing profit for multinational corporations at the expense of people, nature, and future generations. People see this and know it’s wrong. And, unfortunately, the Democrats chose a candidate that embodies this misguided approach.
(c) Psychological. Trump and some of his supporters seem to act from reactivity to trauma pain. Their views and behavior are classic trauma symptoms. Hurt people can be reckless and hurt themselves and other people.