Updated: Aug 8, 2019
A Facebook friend posted on her wall this morning:
'OMG Trump's speech sounds like he's at the Oscars!'
That made me smile. Wryly, I mean, rather than a smile of pure happiness. She's right. Because in the age we're in there seems to be confusion between reality TV, performance and politics. It's all so slick - in a hall of mirrors sort of way. It's about individuals and personalities. It's often not about causes and looking and understanding systemically at the way the world is, for example, in terms of the pain we humans are currently inflicting on ourselves, one another, and the world, our home. Do we blame Trump voters? Or, conversely, Clinton voters, or BREXITers, or Remainers? Or do we pause for a moment, seeking for a moment to understand why folk voted as they did? Walking for a while in another person's shoes and all that...
I'm surprised not to feel more sadness, fear and dread this morning. In truth, I actually feel a little exhilarated. I hope that Trump's election, following the mess of the BREXIT process, is another huge wake up call to all of us to look at what we're doing, look at what we are all colluding with; societies based on power, greed, hatred, militarism, and individualism. It really is time to act, if we've not been acting until now, to trust that our voice counts, that actions make a difference - even the small ones.
Don't get me wrong, I personally find it sad - tragic, in fact - that millions of Amercians voted for a president who feels free to speak and act abusively. Despite the rhetoric in Trump's speech this morning, I fear for the lives of those who of us don't fit an identity of straight, white, Christian, male (that'll be quite a few of us, then. The silver lining - think of the potential for people power and critical mass...)
Let's channel our responses into connecting with one another - starting with conversations and more honesty about the way the world is and what we can and will do. Let's do stuff to bring change, rather than blame Trump or blame democracy or blame whoever else. It's important to acknowledge how we feel in response to this election result, and it's easy to fritter away our energy and then, as ever, life's busy-ness takes over and we're back focused on our own lives, work, and families.
Of course we need to focus on our own lives, and that's also a trap of late-stage capitalism, neo-liberalism, and the American dream; individualism, the myth of the nuclear family, pro-natalism, occupying the prime positions in our lives at the expense of remembering the great riches and significance of connecting with our wider communities. Rebuilding civil society. Maybe we can even connect with communities very very different to our own, whether that's in terms of sexuality, gender, race, income level or whatever. Leaving our own comfort zones and bridging differences and discovering that more often than not, there's an interesting conversation to be had.
The image in my mind is that we wake up, get out of our houses, look around us, open our eyes again, rather than rely on the warped agendas of much of the media. I can feel gloomy when I spend too much time online, only to remember that most humans are pretty great, when I go to work or wander down my local high streets or meet new friends. Let's take back the power and see what's going on in the world, maybe align ourselves with change makers who we know and respect.
The world has become very personalised, we (I) can become very distracted and, understandably, bewildered, by the news we're being fed. We can focus on Trump as the enemy, or we can look at the real enemy, which is living in societies fuelled by militarism, greed, status anxiety and ecocide. Societies run by largely invisible but hugely powerful elites; transnational corporations, key members of the media, financiers, and the super wealthy, to name but a few. And an enemy closer to home: complacency, particularly middle class complacency.
We're in scary times, that's for sure. The quote from the 'Dhammapada' (an ancient book of wise Buddhist words) that's ringing around me this morning is:
"Not by hatred are hatreds ever pacified here. They are pacified by love. This is the eternal law".
Let's change the word locally and globally with love. Love the pacifier, love which longs to connect, love which motivates us to take action. Let's connect with how we are, with those we love, with those we work with, those we live along side. Let's look further afield. Let's do stuff we wouldn't normally do - change something! Get informed, join forces and take local actions for changes that matter in our local communities, join a national group already making changes, join a campaign or charity we've been meaning to for years, understand what's going on further afield, checking out our news sources. Make a difference in whatever way that makes sense to us: campaigning, promoting, advocating, educating, making art or music for change. Because sadly, this isn't the Oscars or the BAFTAs, it's life in 2016.