Shepard Fairey posters, Amplify Foundation.

Trump reflections V

 

Continued from previous posts.

Policies and democracy. Trump worries me and many others, and our main concerns are in two areas:

Policy content. He – supported by his cabinet and the Republican congress – are likely to implement policies that erode social safety nets, transfer what’s now publicly and collectively owned to private corporations, and tends to benefit people like them (billionaires) at the cost of regular people.

Democracy. Trump’s m.o. is to (a) deny the truth of something easily verifiable, and (b) turning it back on the other (blame, name calling). This erodes the democratic process, norms, and unwritten rules built up over decades and centuries. His authoritarian and bullying tactics belong to the world of old-fashioned kings and dictators, not a democracy.

What we can do. So what can we do? We need to be what we want to see in the world:

Emphasize facts and reality.

Act with integrity and uphold democratic norms and processes. Support order instead of his chaos.

Support forward-looking policies and what we want to see in our society. Remember and develop our visions of the society we want to have.

Remember that a majority of people in the US support liberal policies – when these are presented outside of party politics. Remember that Trump got only a quarter of the votes, and less than half of the votes cast.

Focus on the issues and not his personality. Hold the media to a high standard of accountable reporting. Act with sanity and maturity.

Collapse. Many have predicted the end of the US empire and Trump is actively engaged in making it happen. It doesn’t take much to predict it right now, it’s happening right in front of our eyes. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What’s more concerning is the possible collapse of western civilization as we know it. The current version of our civilization is, as we all know, profoundly unsustainable. It can’t continue. The only question is how it will end and what will come instead.

If we take it seriously – far more than we have up to now – we can still create a relatively graceful transition to a more sustainable civilization. If we continue on our current path, and Trump even wants to reverse it, the transition may be in the form of a far more harsh collapse.

Trump as a useful idiot for Republicans. Many, including me, think that the Republicans will keep Trump for as long as he is useful to them. As soon as he becomes too troublesome – either in terms of damaging the Republican brand or by being too unpredictable and unruly – they’ll get rid of him. A Pence president won’t do the public any favors, but to the Republicans, he is far more predictable and in line with the Republican agenda. Robert Reich posted about this earlier today.

The upside. The possible upside of Trump and a Republican congress is that more people will wake up to what’s really going on. The Republican agenda is to line the pockets of the wealthy at the cost of ordinary people. And that’s what Trump is in the process of doing as well.

Even better would be if more people also wake up to the need and great benefit all around from creating a culture that’s aligned with ecological realities, but I doubt if the Trump situation can do that. Someone like Elon Musk are more likely to open people’s eyes.

A test. The Trump presidency is a test of sorts. It’s a test of our character. Again, it’s an invitation for us to be what we want to see in the world.

A mirror. At a more psychological level, Trump serves as a mirror. He serves as a mirror of what lurks in the US population. And he serves as a mirror for each of us. There is a simple way of exploring this.

Write a list of what you see in him. (He is… He should…)

Turn each statement around to yourself. (I am…. I should….)

Find three or more specific examples of how each statement is true for yourself – in this situation and other situations.

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Trump reflections IV

 

Continued from previous posts.

Inclusiveness. I tend to judge policies and politicians less in terms of how liberal or conservative they are, and more on how inclusive and life-centered they are. There are policies and politicians of any flavor that take a more inclusive and life-centered approach. They sincerely wish society as a whole, and all segments within it, to flourish. And if they have a larger perspective, they also include nature and future generations. (Also because that’s enlightened self-interest. It’s to our benefit here and now to do so.)

That’s why it’s so hard for me to understand why people would support Trump. He is someone who so obviously is in it for himself and to increase profit for people like himself, at the expense of everyone else – including the less wealthy, nature, and future generations.

Of course, people may be mislead, and they may have wanted to vote for him out of reactiveness and pain. And still, from the beginning, it was so clear that he is in it for himself and that a vote for him was a vote for policies not in their own interest. At least not in the short term. Who knows what will come out of it in the longer term. His term may be such a blatant disaster that enough people come to their senses and support more sensible solutions.

Solution focus. I have always favored a partner-oriented and solution focused approach to our serious problems. It’s the only approach that makes sense to me. It’s what exciting and energizing, and what creates a life we want to live – for ourselves and society as a whole.

Of course, we need to focus on the problems in order to understand them and find a strategy to create what we want. But if we focus only or mainly on the problems, it tends to be very discouraging and lead to burn-out.

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Trump reflections III

 

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.

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Trump is the healer

 

Trump is the healer.

As anyone pushing our buttons, he shows us what’s left. He shows us our wounds, traumas, and hangups.

And that can be very healing if we let it. In this case, it’s specifically an invitation to see where we stop ourselves from speaking up and acting to prevent harm from happening to others.

Some more things that come to mind:

I would never want him as a leader of anything, but now that he is…. how can I make the best out of it?

How am I like him? What do I see in him? (A bully, bigot, racist, xenophobe, habitual liar.) Where can I find that in my own life, with specific examples?

How do I let other bully me into being inauthentic? What are the fears? What do I find when I explore these? (Using The Work, Living Inquiries etc.)

When I use ho’oponopono, tonglen, loving kindness practice or similar on him, those supporting him, those harmed by his actions, and myself, what do I notice? Where is there resistance? What’s the fear? How is it to meet and inquire into that fear?

Trump may not last long, but while he is president, he can be a great healer…. if we allow him to be. He can mobilize many of us to action on behalf of dignity, life, earth, and future generations. He can be a mirror for ourselves, showing us what’s left.

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Trump reflections II

 

Continued from a previous post.

Focus on the issues, not the person. A lesson from Italy and other places is to focus on the issues, not the person. Focusing on Trump’s insanity (a) distracts from the real issues, and (b) galvanizes the Trump supporters and makes their position even more entrenched. The issues are real and important enough. There is no reason to dilute it by focusing on Trump himself, no matter how tempting it may be.

Why is he so fascinating? That said, there is a huge temptation to focus on Trump’s personality. The media certainly gave him a huge amount of free airtime, and they did so because of his outrageous statements and behavior, and the drama and chaos he creates.

A deeper reason why people are drawn to focusing on his personality is that he reflects something in all of us. He is an outrageous caricature of some of the worst sides in all humans. He shows us our shadow. And that is inherently fascinating.

In that fascination is wisdom. There is an invitation for all of us to find ourselves in him. How would I describe him? (Write it down.) How does that apply to me? Find specific examples. (It may be that what I find in myself is much less strong, and appears in a different way. After all, he often functions as a caricature of these sides in us.)

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Trump reflections

 

I think the biggest lesson of this election is this: People love a good story way more than they like reality. Trump lied constantly, and had neither the temperament, the experience, nor the plans to change American lives for the better… but he knows how to spin an enthralling yarn.

Everything he promised is objectively bullshit. People with actual experience in economics, immigration, constitutional law, etc. said as much. Experts in every area came out against him, but America didn’t care. They liked his stories where other people were to blame for their problems and everything had a simple, intuitive fix. The blatant lies didn’t matter, as long as the story made them feel good.

America didn’t just give the middle finger to the elites. They said “fuck you” to everyone with expertise, to everyone in positions of earned authority, everyone who was trying to tell them what to do. America said, “You’re not the boss of me, I’m going to vote for an authoritarian who will tell YOU what to do.”

– S.O’B

Written by a friend of mine on Facebook.

I have had many reactions to the Trump popularity and now election. Here are a few:

From this spring on, I – and others I know – had an intuitive knowing he would be elected. From this morning of, the morning of the election and even before any results came in – I had a sickening feeling in my body.

He is insane. He may be literally insane. His level of projection, bigotry, sexism, islamophobia, vengefulness etc. is off the charts.

He seems to take delight in creating chaos. That’s a very dangerous quality of a leader of any country.

He seems to take delight in denying reality. He repeats and indulges in dangerous lies even if they are easily shown to be lies.

Trump is not really fit to be the leader of anything, apart from perhaps some crazy reality TV show.

He speaks to very legitimate fears and concerns many people have, especially how politics often serve corporate interests over those of people (neoliberal globalization etc.) The bail-out of the banks, instead of jailing the ones responsible, is one of many examples of why people are rightfully distrustful of politicians. And yet, his solutions are uninformed, misguided, and ranging from terrible to disastrous.

Some people compare him to Hitler, and others say he is not nearly as bad. Hitler wasn’t nearly as bad either at the time he was elected. The parallels are, at the very least, scary.

I feel sad Bernie Sanders did not become the Democratic nominee. Polls at the time showed that he was much stronger against Trump (clear advantage) than Clinton (much closer). Bernie speaks to many of the same concerns as Trump but has sane, proven, and inclusive solutions.

I would have voted for Hillary Clinton if I could, but I am not at all enthusiastic about her. She is far too aligned with corporate interests. (I know that’s partly strategic on her part, but still…. it’s a poor strategy when corporate interests so often are not the interests of people, ecosystems, and future generations.)

What will happen now? I am not sure. Personally, I have had a sense for a few months that I would leave the US for a while. I would find it easier to deal with Trump watching him from another country.

Hopefully, the democratic party will reform and address the very real issues and concerns that got Trump elected. I also suspect that the Republican partly will be torn apart to some extent, with pro- and anti-Trump segments (that’s already happening).

Trump is notoriously unpredictable, so just about anything could happen. He’ll likely try to get as much through of his campaign promises as possible. There is no reason to think he will be much different from the person we saw during the campaign. The republican congress will support much of it, and may oppose or block some of his more extreme policies.

He will set a new low standard in public discourse and politics, and this will be a model for others to follow.

He will most likely undo a great deal of social and environmental progress made over the previous several decades. His presidency will set back any efforts to reduce the severity of climate change (already on track to be severe).

He is likely to cause rifts with other countries. In the worst case, we’ll see his vengefulness and unpredictability cause very dangerous international situations and conflicts.

Trump doesn’t have the experience – and perhaps not the inclination – to lead the country. So his advisors will probably do a lot of the work, as they did with G.W. Bush. And these advisors may be as or more dangerous – socially and environmentally – than Trump himself.

It’s possible that he’ll resign or lose his presidency within a year or two and we’ll get another Republican president. Someone a bit more level headed and predictable, but still one who can do a great deal of harm, especially in the social and environmental areas.

It’s also possible something good will come out of the destruction. He may motivate life-centered engagement more than anyone else. Out of the ashes, something new and more life-affirming may emerge. We’ll see.

Most likely, what happens will be a mix of several of these things. Typically, things won’t be as bad as we fear or as good as we hope, although Trump has a way of go outside of the norm.

My hunch: He will go after his enemies (and will be partially stopped by courts and the law). He will try to get as many things done in as short a period as possible. He’ll get nearly full support of some Republicans, although many will oppose some of his more extreme projects. He will resign within one or two years, giving a reason that allows him to save face. (That he wants to focus on his family and/or TV network or another business project.) Another Republican will take over and continue some of his more regressive social and environmental policies but in a more professional manner. (Which, in some ways, is more dangerous.) A Democrat will be elected in 2020. This person will be slightly more in the Bernie Sanders camp. It could be Elizabeth Warren, but I think it will be someone else who is slightly more mainstream in their views. (Elon Musk would have been an exciting possibility, but he is not born a US citizen.)

Here is a post from early on the election day from another friend of mine:

If Trump wins, it is my belief that he will bring forth the movement, the revolution, faster than Clinton would because people will be much more motivated to do so. So fret not, if he wins, if the dark worker wins, (and dark workers are just as important in history as light workers) there will be revolutionary change even faster, but with more unfortunate consequences, drama, and maybe even fatalities. With Clinton in place, the movement will be slower going, safer and boring in comparison, but either way the Bernie movement will happen! I KNOW it in my bones that in my lifetime I will see the World fall apart and put itself back together again.”

My prayer now: Let the falling apart be as swift and light and easy as possible for all involved. Let curiosity diffuse fear and show everyone the magic that’s possible when anger expressed is met with an innocent heart. Anger is more fear after all, it’s just bigger looking and sounding. It’s scarier and hence creates more fear.

In the coming days and weeks and months I will strive to continue to grow my capacity to deal with fear and anger in myself and anyone who expresses it around me. When I feel it or see it, I will use it as my cue to get curious as much as possible. To find beauty in the moment as much as possible with everyone I meet.

Finding the blessings and beauty in any tense situation diffuses it immediately. Try it yourself. Next time you see someone angry or afraid, find anything to compliment them about genuinely. See what happens. Let me know if you do it. I’m so curious!

– MB

Update the following morning: for the last several months, my thoughts have sometimes said “he can’t possibly be voted in” but my knowing has said otherwise. Now, my thoughts try out “it won’t be that bad” but again there is a sense in me saying otherwise. It may be as bad as we fear, or worse.

With regular democrats and republicans, there is a regular level of craziness. They may go to war for oil or to get a regional foothold, or even to line the pockets of contractors. They may change some social and environmental policies. But in general, they keep things pretty stable. With Trump, it’s easy to imagine that it can spiral out of control. He is Loki, a chaos maker, and someone who seems to delight in chaos. It may lead to a situation beyond what most people are currently willing to imagine, as this historical analysis points out.

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