It's very tempting to feel sad this holiday season. I know many people feel more hopeful than ever, celebrating the election of a new President and looking forward to better times ahead. I respect that they feel that way, but I cannot fathom it. I leave them to their partying, and pray in my heart that they are right and I am wrong.
For me, as for millions of others, there is a feeling of deep foreboding. From our President-elect's childishly reckless attitude about a nuclear arms race (the 5,000-7,000 nukes we already have aren't enough, Sir?) to his chief financial appointee suggesting banks need more deregulation (they haven't done enough harm already, Sir?) to a lack of impulse control with his twitter account suggesting something more like an extreme use of Adderall than an extreme case of ADD -- it is looking like he is a car crash happening in slow motion and the rest of us are stuck in the car.
Beyond Left and Right, people all across the political spectrum are feeling a sense of alarm. In the words of a friend, we are "shaken to the core." Despite repeated injunctions -- from Vladimir himself, no less! -- that we need to "lose with dignity," and simply "get over it," I for one do know how to do that...but I don't want to. And this is not the first time my guy lost in the Presidential horse race. I got over it when Nixon won. I got over it when Reagan won. I got over it when Bush 43 won (okay, I admit that one was a bit harder, since he didn't win). But with Trump, I don't think I'm supposed to get over it. In fact, I feel it's my patriotic duty not to. Every part of my being is sending out a red alert. In Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's classic work, acceptance is meant to be the final stage of grief. But we should never ever "accept" something as demagogic and vigilantly ignorant as what a Trump presidency represents to this nation. There isn't just something to grieve here; there's something to powerfully and passionately stand for.
Spiritually, I understand that Trump is an innocent child of God. And before he was a Presidential candidate, I found him to be a kind of entertaining American character. But he is not entertaining anymore; he is frightening. He has been elected to the Presidency of the United States and yet he acts like he is mocking the job.
There is nothing spiritual about complacency, and I reject any half-baked spiritual prescription that if we just send him enough love then everything will be okay. If the house is burning, you yell "Fire." You don't just repeat your mantra more times and trust the outcome to God. Quite the opposite: we are to live our lives so that God can trust the outcome to us. He cannot do for us what He cannot do through us. The question is not, how did God let this happen? The question is, how did we let this happen? And what are we going to do about it now ?
Gandhi was non-violent toward the British, but he wanted them out. King was non-violent toward the white supremacists, but he wanted them politically defeated. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "God said I have to love my enemies, but he didn't say I have to like them." This is a time for neither a superficial spirituality, nor a superficial politics. We need to do more than buckle our seat belts now; we need to rise to the occasion and find every legal, non-violent, and effective way to resist Trump's leadership. It's not enough to wait for the Republicans to find their conscience, or for the Democrats to find their ... well, you know the word. Each of us needs to find our power. We are citizens, and we should remember that our representatives, even the President, work for us. We do not work for them.
And we have simply made a terrible hire. It's not just that the Trump phenomenon isn't "normal;" there are enough people saying that already. But we have to take the next psychological step now. If it isn't "normal," then what is it? And the answer, to me, is clear: it is dangerous. His presidency represents a clear and present danger to this country and to the world. But he was not elected king, or dictator; he was elected President. And within our democratic system there are ways to legally deal with a corrupt or mentally unfit leader.
Each of us needs to ask ourselves, "What can I do? What is my internal guidance, that I might be part of the Great Resistance in 2017?" And that is what it needs to be: a Great Resistance. Not just a kinda-sorta-maybe-I'll-post-that-on-Facebook kind of thing. Each of us has a part to play in powerfully repudiating the abuse and misuse of power that Trump's upcoming Presidency already represents.
For me, I am hosting the next SISTER GIANT conference in Washington DC on Feb. 2-4, 2017. www.sistergiant.com. We are bringing together speakers representing everything from a deeper archetypal understanding of our predicament, to the most effective ways to politically resist it. SISTER GIANT is a good thing, and there are many more things that will be happening as well. But whatever you do, if you agree with my assessment, then do something.
There is a call going out from deep within the American psyche now: to remember the Abolitionists, remember the Suffragettes, remember the Civil Rights movement -- and do, in our time, what they did in theirs: see the problem, but don't just grieve it. FIX IT! Let's not be the first generation of Americans to be so beaten down by a problem that we lose our will to solve it.
Now, as we celebrate the miracles of both Hannukah and Christmas, let us remember that this is not the first time human beings have experienced a very dark night. And this is indeed a collective dark night of the soul. But all great religious teachings remind us that into the darkened night God always has, and always will, brought forth a light that is not of this world. A light that enters into human affairs. A light through which we find our fundamental connection to a power greater than ourselves. And no power of darkness can stand before the power of this light. It is among us and it is within us.
And yes, the light dwells within Donald Trump. Of course it does. None of this is to personally wish him ill. It is to wish him residing happily in Florida or New York or wherever he wishes, making whatever deals he wishes to make, but nowhere near the levers of political power. He has proven himself something much more significant than not up to the task. Yet while he might not be up to the task of governing the most powerful country on earth, the deeper question still is this: are we up to the task of creating a Great Resistance, and saving our country from the demagoguery he represents?
Let's not just hope this time. Let's make the answer as clear as the light of the star of Bethlehem, and as miraculous as the light of the first Hannukah candles. We know who Donald Trump is; the question now is, who are we? 2017 is not a pre-determined destiny. It is up to each of us to decide what it will be.