I stand with minorities and was terrified to see election results but I never bought the notion that Trump supporters are all racists. This is not a denial of the very real racism in America today or historically. This is not an apology for Trump or any racially-motivated behavior. This is an introspection into how we might heal an unfortunate situation. Fear is something we instinctually run from but it only resolves when we face it. Here’s a perspective that I hope will help all of us feel empowered and fearless as we greet an uncertain future.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King Jr.”
Humans have been wired since the beginning of time to respond first and foremost to fear. In the wild this strategy was a matter of life or death, and so our brains developed accordingly. There is a part in our brain called the amygdala, which is literally a switch that shuts off all of our higher reasoning in moments of terror and focuses all our conscious attention on the fight/flight reactionary response. This is why fear is such a great motivator. It is also why advertisers and politicians employ fear to make us buy their product or vote for them.
Unfortunately it works pretty often and the longer we are caught in this place of fear, the less we are able to access our higher thinking capacities. Though we no longer live in the wild we are still bombarded with fearful messaging and this is causing us to not think straight. The results of living this way perpetuates a terrifying world and I think we can all agree that this is what we have created for ourselves.
Election 2016 was probably one of the most divisive chapters in recent American history. We also know that when we are divided as a people we become easy prey for financial and political predators. Regardless of whether there is truth to Hillary’s corruption or Trumps racism there is financial incentive for media-spin and can be used by political campaigns to exploit these stories in order to scare people into voting. This is nothing new in America.
Some of us projected our fear onto one candidate while denying any information that would make our preferred candidate seem fearful (confirmation bias). This is the demon/hero story. For good reason many Americans felt terrified by both Trump and Clinton and just reluctantly opted to vote the less of two evils. This is true for Trump voters as well as Clinton voters, and each equally had a hard time understanding how the other could possibly vote for the enemy candidate.
We can identify with political leaders but over identifying with them or over identifying their followers is problematic. Since Trump won and the great fear around him are issues of misogyny and racism, it is easy to equate everyone who voted for him as misogynists or racists. The media has spent months convincing you that they are, but they certainly are not. Yes, some of them are jerks and they were jerks before Trump came around and now they have a platform thanks to him and the media.
Heroes and villains need each other just like dark and light. Humans often elevate themselves by pushing others down. Trump and Hillary, each with considerable baggage, needed to vilify the other in order to elevate themselves. The leaked Podesta emails showed that the Democrats political strategy included elevating Trump (along with his fearful misogyny and racism) as a “Pied Piper” to create controlled opposition to make Hillary look more presentable and win. Trump vilified Hillary but he also took it further and vilified immigrants to make him look like a protector of Americans who are struggling financially from trade deals that have shipped their jobs to Mexico or overseas. These are advertising techniques and theatrical stunts with real-life repercussions.
These are the same techniques used to justify endless bombings by both Democrats and Republicans to increase profits for weapons industries, one of our largest exports. If we are willing to believe that Trump supporters are all racists, that is just as bad as believing that Muslims are all terrorists. It is like saying that all Hillary supporters celebrate the selling of weapons to oppressive and barbaric regimes like Saudi Arabia (which later end up in the hands of ISIS).
Social, racial, immigration tensions are the root of, and are perpetuated by war. This can be an internal war with our fellow citizens or a full-blown military offensive. These tensions are born of economic inequality, which also breeds fear and division. We are all products of a failing economic system and the sooner we recognize this, the quicker we can change it. It is my opinion that neither candidate presented a solution in this regard and hence the endless mud-slinging.
Generalizations rarely work, nor does identifying with personalities and political parties instead of focusing on actual policies. We have allowed ourselves to be duped into forgetting our own humanity and the humanity of those that are different than us. These are fear tactics used to manipulate the masses but they will stop working when we decide that we will no longer buy these stories.
This is where the political revolution moves from the ballot box to ourselves as individuals. Are we willing to look at our fear, and the hatred it produces? Do we have the courage to face ourselves with love and compassion? This is how love drives out hatred, the way light drives out darkness. What is your greatest fear? It is probably born of something that you love. It may be your family, your life, your environment, justice, your country, your dignity, your racial heritage, your planet, your gender. The fear can become fierceness in your desire to protect these things and that is a beautiful thing when channeled compassionately.
Those who sit on the other side of the political divide have the same fears and loves. The only way you may understand what motivates them is to stop and listen, to see the humanity within them. This is not just about our fellow Americans but our fellow humans around the world. The signs are everywhere. Hatred, fear, and division will never help us address the issues we all commonly face on the planet. War and environmental collapse are terrifying because they threaten all life on the planet but we will only resolve this fear by facing it together.
Inner peace, mental clarity, and compassion are what is needed. Nobody can give it to you, you can’t buy it at the store, there is no instant download, it is a daily practice. I spend countless hours researching and writing about how art, science, and spirituality can be utilized to elevate us without putting others down. I am guilty of the divisive mindset like all of us, so I take walks in nature, meditate, and eat healthy food so that I can be mentally clear. Only from this place can any of us hope to create the better world that we all know is possible.
We need to rage against the economic system that divides us and desecrates our planet, we don’t need to rage against each other. Take some time to listen to your enemy instead of shouting at them, and you may find that their loves and fears are not too different from yours. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that we live in volatile times that are also potent for unprecedented transformation and growth. We have the technology to destroy ourselves or create a better world, what we get will be a reflection of who we have become. Let’s become love and cast our fear to the wind.
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