These days it is in vogue, in certain circles, to speak with anger about Trump. Everywhere you go it’s Trump, Trump, Trump, with email accounts flooded with petitions against him of all kinds, Facebook posts of yet another indication of how terrible he is, and impeachment becoming the mantra-de-jour.
Now I am certainly no fan of Trump. As a registered alien I cannot vote; had I been a citizen I would have undoubtedly not voted for him. The fast, relentless erosion of the social fabric, of decency, of democracy, or fairness, and of adult responsibility are worrisome. The fact that an impetuous, narcissistic child controls the nuclear codes of the largest power in the world is a nightmare on wheels.
But Trump is not the problem; we all are the problem. Trump only reflects to us the state of our collective psyche. Obama liked to repeat the phrase, “This is not who we are” in response to outrageous statements by populists, but that’s a fallacy: if that was not who we were, we would not have elected this president. He reflects the extreme excesses of the values that most people of this country value as the highest: power, sex, and money. The cartoon in the New Yorker said it best:
Our focus on Trump and his evil deeds, or on the Republican party and its immoral cooperation with him, is wrong not because those are not terrible mistakes which will no doubt have dire consequences, but because by focusing on the “other” and projecting our rage at them, we are helping to nurture the condition that brought Trump to power—division and partisanship.
What are we to do, then? Surely, we must do everything we can to protect whatever is not yet destroyed. But we must also, and perhaps primarily, make sure we are not part of the problem, but are rather the conduit for a solution. The direction to that may have been given by Swiss psychologist CG Jung, who at the height of WWII, when it seems like the Nazis were unstoppable and were only winning, had this to say:
“Is there still a chance to save ourselves from this spiritual decay? Yes, but a miracle will have to happen, and miracles only happen when one believes in miracles. Small islands, like mountain tops, would have to grow out of the chaotic sludge, islands of contemplation and of a sense of justice…. Perhaps a new world will develop from these islands!”
This, I believe, is the highest priority now: to create such islands of sanity and unity in the midst of the chaos. This should happen everywhere. And I am starting something here, in New York City.
I’m announcing the creation of spiritual connection groups, which will meet once every few weeks for the work of “collective islands of contemplation and justice.” You can read about it here. You are welcome to join us, or start one in your area.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”