Many have asked me what I think this election means. I will start by saying no one will know - not for a long time. But I will share my thoughts as of today.
This quotation from the Lord of the Rings movies comes to me again and again since the election. Frodo: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.”
I do not yet know what the election of Donald Trump means for the USA and the world. It could be the beginning of us facing our shadow and renouncing sexism, racism, and other phobias. It could be much sound and fury - and end up signifying nothing. Or it could be our Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment (which started World War 1 in an unexpected network of events, which in hindsight were visible and predictable, but at the time were not foreseen).
There are, as Gandalf says, forces for good at work in the world. It is not always clear what they are. There are also forces for "darkness" - meaning our human shadow and selfish nature - also at work. Many who voted for Trump did so thinking they were voting for their own and/or the greater good. Many who voted for Hillary Clinton feel that voting for Trump was a vote for dark times.
Extremist interpretations are premature. He may be our savior in a strange way – perhaps by bringing our shadow to light. He may be our undoing as many fear. Or he may be just one more President in a line of them and the pendulum swings back to the Democrats and equal rights and environmental concerns after a few noise-filled scary years.
It is possible, and at this time I still believe it is probable, that this is an EVOLUTIONARY moment. That it is a regression before a breakthrough. But breakdowns don't always lead to breakthrough. They can lead to more regression. The tipping point deciding which way it goes will likely be the result many of us in the USA and those around the world doing many separate things. Who knows what flap of the butterfly’s wings might finally bring us to the light? One seemingly insignificant act of moral courage might make the difference that declares that love really does have the ability to overcome our fear and bad behavior.
From an American standpoint I think ONE PIECE of we are seeing is an echo of the Civil War. In 1865 we (the North) "won" the Civil War and slavery was outlawed. Then we had Jim Crow. In the 1950s and 60s we had the Civil Rights movements, whose heroes are generally admired today but were seen as troublemakers or even traitors back then. We had the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and subsequent laws attempting to take the next steps in true equality for African Americans. That was 100 years after the supposed end of the Civil War. That was the first "echo" if you will. Since then we’ve had new forms of trouble emerge – including the New Jim Crow. I think we are now in the second "echo" – 50+ years after the end of the Civil Rights era. We may now be entering a new 1960s - only this time with more than African Americans being targeted as objects of our collective white shadow and our collective fear. Muslims, Jews, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, LGTBQ and perhaps anyone who isn’t a nationalist will also be in the cross hairs. I am a white American. Our self-concept as a country and our identity as white people living here will change. There is no way it cannot. We live in a complex interdependent global reality and diversity isn’t going away. Diversity is not the thing to fear that our subconscious mind and our limbic system believe it to be. We just can’t see that yet. So we hear words of hate and fear from a segment of white America. And this is very worrisome.
I hope and believe that we will get to the right side of this “new 1960s” at some point. But if my intuition is correct, we won’t be done after this round of shadow-eruption. I predict there will be one more echo of the Civil War and of our fear. I predict it will happen in approximately 25 years - when we face this shadow one more time. And then I believe we as a society will finally face and heal from all the ways we (yes, especially white Americans) have “othered” people, and be more whole at last. I also predict we will really wonder – in hindsight - what the big deal was! We are all flesh and blood. We all breathe the air – polluted or not. We all drink water. We eat, and laugh, and cry, and despair and rejoice. We all love our kids and worry about their health, their security, and whether or not our lives have any meaning.
From an international standpoint there will be much change as well. We are being asked to reconsider the post-WWII alliances and worldviews we still carry. Putin is very happy about this election. Which makes many fearful for his expansionist agenda. There may be a lot of suffering ahead of us OUTSIDE the USA as well inside. What we do here, the treaties we decide to cancel, the allies we support or not, the trade wars we provoke, has global impact. An isolationist, pro-Putin stance will have ramifications abroad, and back here in the USA in terms of our economy and our own safety. Could it be for the better long term? Possibly. I cannot know. In the long run I think we’ll be forced to recognize we are on a small planet and we need each other. But I fear it will be a very painful path to realizing our profound interdependence and interconnectivity as a species.
Perhaps we must destroy the global economy to rebuild it in a better fairer way. Perhaps we must have a nuclear war for those who survive it (if any do) to decide to NEVER allow it again. Perhaps none of my dark speculations are reasonable. I hope they are not. I hope our growing up as a people is as painless as possible.
My husband and I have joked at times that what we need to bring the world together is an alien invasion. Then we'd all look to the skies, drop our pettiness, and unite in action to save ourselves. Perhaps this is the beginning of that time. But the alien isn't a Martian or some inter-gallactic species. The “enemy” is our ancient limbic system with its addiction to fear, egoic concerns, and Us vs. Them thinking. We can be amazing as humans. We can be kind, wise, empathic, and self-sacrificing. We can also be self-focused and cruel. The cruelty emerges most intensely when we are afraid.
So what are we to do?
I don't think this will be decided soon. I think it's going to be a journey that might last a decade or two. So gird your loins folks - this could be a difficult journey. Align yourself with the deepest spiritual wisdom you've got access to. Pray. Meditate. Be kind and build communities locally - because it's hard to hate people you actually know and break bread with. Build community internationally and across faiths if you can. I think the future success of the human endeavor requires us to unite across the usual divides and to see that *if we don't* we stand to put our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren in great danger. We need to depend less on our leaders and more on each other. We must save ourselves.
Can we calm our limbic systems and mature our egos to higher stages of adult development? Can we transcend our addiction to one-small-vision of what is right (and the “us” vs “them” which ensues)? Ultimately, can we transcend (and include) our multiple ego voices and live guided by our higher nature?
If we can it will require all 4 intelligences of personal and professional leadership: body intelligence, IQ/cognitive intelligence, Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence (SQ). And SQ – our noblest self - will have to lead. How do we do this? By leading ourselves first. Personal growth is part of the Love Warrior’s preparation for the next evolutionary advance. The first level of “warfare” is internal. It is the struggle with the ego to mature and listen to the wisdom of our highest nature. Then we can face what is ours to do in the external world.
In Lord of the Rings it was the humble hobbit, Frodo, who carried the ring into the mountain of fire...but he couldn't let it go, he couldn't throw it into the fire to destroy it. It is interesting that Gollum, the warped shadow of a being that used to be named Smeagol (he was a River hobbit until he became corrupted by the One Ring) saves the day. I see Gollum as representing an aspect of ourself (as do all the characters in the story I think). He is the corrupted aspect of our ego self (think of him as our obsessive greed) which grabbed for the One Ring - bit off Frodo's finger to get it - and then thought he had won! Then he fell into the fires of Mount Doom with the One Ring and was consumed. And the world was saved again for a while. It is interesting to note that both Gandalf and Frodo refused to destroy Gollum. They both felt in their wisest hearts that somehow Gollum had a role to play in their salvation. Mr. Trump does too, I suspect.
Perhaps this is our Mt. Doom moment. Perhaps the forces for good will work in their mysterious ways. What we each must do is answer the call to Love. This is not the wimpy form of love which avoids difficulties. Rather it is the sacred form…the one that is willing to stand up and act courageously and refuse to bow to hate. We must throw the One Ring of Hate and Pride and Greed into the fire.
I hope like crazy this is not the beginning of the end of American democracy (unless a better, fairer form of government is going to emerge). I will pray and move my feet to help co-create an America that lives up to our stated values of fairness, with liberty and justice FOR ALL. I will do my best to suspend my interpretation of “what this means" and act on what is in front of me today...while also holding in the back of my mind the reality of what we could lose if we don't unite as a species with a focus on some higher goals.
God bless you and God bless me. God bless our families and loved ones. God bless this country, this species we call homo sapiens, and this whole, beautiful blue planet.