The present moment is intense. Our President Elect is a person who ignites extreme fear, sorrow, and panic into so many hearts. These are understandable emotions. It is easy for me to feel empathy, because I have felt these emotions too. I intentionally don’t own a television, but, in the past months, whenever I’ve encountered television sets in public spaces (restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, etc.), Trump has seemed to be on the screen a majority of the time, spouting red-faced angry statements that have truly shocked me.
This Trump character frightens people. In the past 24 hours, since we’ve woken to a new world, a world where Trump is our future leader, I’ve read so many ventings and cries for help on Facebook. My friends are feeling angry, depressed, and even suicidal, unable to get out of bed. They are finding work difficult and alcohol a much-needed comfort.
Friends, I feel your pain! People of America, I feel your pain! And, let it be known, there is this part of me that is totally calm. Totally at peace. There is this part of me that is untouched by all that is going on. How? I am keeping things simple. I am tasting the food that I eat. I am smiling at those I love. I am breathing, slowly, in and out, and looking at the trees, as I walk in the woods this autumn morning. I am keeping things simple…and because of this, I have been able to have an insight. I’d like to share it with you.
Friends, things are not as they appear. Look again. Look deeper.
If you dare to look deeper, maybe you will see what I see. Maybe you will see it, too… that Donald Trump is helping us. Trump is our mirror. He is an excellent—and no doubt intensely challenging!—mirror.
Of course, yes, I know, Donald Trump’s explicit aim is not to help us. I know. His aim is clear: greed, ignorance, violence, division, power. That’s obvious to so many of us wise, compassionate souls. However, he is helping us still the same by his very presence in such a central position in our media and government. Seeing his face on the screen, we can now no longer deny or ignore the fact that something is very very backward here, something is very very broken and outdated, not only with the entire current (global) political system as it stands but also with our human collective consciousness as a whole. We see we have much healing to do. (Maybe much more than we have been wanting to admit.) We also see that the time must be now.
This is the face of the present moment. This is what Trump’s face allows us to see.
And, dear friends, let me be very clear. In no way am I excusing Trump’s actions and words of racism, sexism, greed, and hate. I am not saying it is okay. Please look deeply at what I am saying and allow your heart to unveil my meaning.
Friends, there is always a deeper way of perceiving things. When we look at Trump—deeply look—what can we see? What can we find?
What we can see and find is a perfect, stunning (yes, often horrifying!) reflection of the state of consciousness of a majority of people in this country and in the “civilized” world. We see where most people are at: stuck in fear, stuck in ignorance. And seeing this reality, so blatant and obvious right in front of our face, with nowhere to go, nowhere to escape to, we know our efforts at peace are needed—really needed, right now. We know our efforts to open our hearts with compassion to help others is a needed effort in this current world. We are needed. We can see how people are hurting by how they voted. We can see how they do not know. And we do not judge them or attack them for their vote, but rather we feel inspired and revitalized by the current events, by the present moment. By the possibilities that lie deeply, at the heart of this moment.
When we look at Trump, what else do we see? In addition to recognizing the seeds of fear and ignorance within others, we must also acknowledge that the seeds of fear and ignorance are also present within ourselves as well (to various extents). When we look deeply, we see that we, too, have been capable of fear and ignorance in our daily lives in the past, or maybe even today. Sometimes we have said angry words to others. Sometimes we have judged or condemned others. Sometimes we have been so locked in the closet of our own pain and despair that we have been unable to open that door and listen kindly to those we love when they have been in pain. Sometimes, we have not been our best self.
It hurts, yes, that moment of realization—the moment where we see within ourselves what we dislike in others—but it is also the moment where the whole game is seen for what it is. Trump is helping us! The situation of Trump has broken through the clutter of our busy lives, and, now, we are in the moment of now. We cannot help but be. We have no choice but to pause, in our deep grief and concern. We are here, in the now.
For me, this is a time to look back and realize that only twelve years ago, I was watching the television show The Apprentice, admiring Trump as a strong, confident leader from whom I could learn. (At the time, I felt ashamed of what I felt was my “feminine passivity.”) For me, this is a time to realize that it was not so long ago that I too actively strived for the values that Trump touts: the creeds of “success,” competition, and materialism. For me, this is a good time to reflect deeply. Many of my biological family members voted for Trump. It is not my intention to divide myself from them, to shake the finger at or blame them. What good would that do? It is Trump himself who advocates division, anger, judgment, and blame—so why would I want to continue to propagate the cycle? The only way to end blame is with compassion. The only way to end violence is with peace. The only way to end hate is with love. Teachers since time immemorial have taught this simple message. Teachers such as the deceased Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as well as the still-living inspiration Thich Nhat Hanh. Their message has been simple, yes, but difficult to carry out. But now, in the present moment, we can feel the stirrings and the callings for change. Real change. We felt such hope when Obama was elected…but what really changed? The core of the system is flawed, and so our hopes went unanswered. What is the opportunity here? What can we do now that we couldn’t do then?
The way forward, the first step, is with compassion. Can we see how we are more alike than not to our brothers and sisters? Perhaps we are not so fearful and ignorant as to vote for someone like Trump, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that we ourselves do have some elements of fear and ignorance present within us. That fear and ignorance may not be manifesting as much or as obviously as in others…but does that make us superior to them? No. The way forward is the way of peace, the way of compassion. We have compassion for ourselves when we act with ignorance and fear (or maybe that is something we are still working on, too), and so we remind ourselves of that self-compassion, and extend it outward to others, no matter how they voted, no matter how ignorant or crazy they may seem.
Do you not see the beautiful paradox of this? That in the age of Trump, we have the most stunning, vital possibility for peace. In my life, I have found the deepest truths to happen within the caverns of mystery, in the places of paradox that seem to make no sense.
Friends, in this difficult, confusing moment, what if we could perceive our common thread of humanity? What if we could see that all our brothers and sisters (even Trump himself!) need love and compassion, in order to help us all awaken to our best selves. Friends, let us put this 2016 political election to great use. Let us not waste this opportunity.
Let us love.