Corrupt. Greedy. Incompetent. Chaotic. Egotistical. Blusterous. Terrified. Angry. Obscenely male. Self-serving. Narcissistic. Sociopathic. Delusional. Paranoid. Blaming.
All of these words and phrases are being used to describe Donald J. Trump, the current leader of the United States and commander in chief of the largest and most powerful armed force in human history. In fact, recently a number of Yale psychiatrists went out on a limb to warn the American public that Trump shows all the signs of malignant or pathological narcissism, "a dangerous mental illness" that they believe renders him "psychologically unfit" to discharge his duties.
Much of the world with Internet access has already been saddened, angered, shocked, or even outright harmed by Trump's words and precipitous actions, even in just his first 100 days in office. The media outlets, corporate owned and independent, continue to crank out stories about increasing chaos, confusion, and mismanagement in the White House. The world watches and waits breathlessly for more episodes of the Trump Show to air, now complete with frequent mentions of "super-mighty," multinational thermonuclear war.
Meanwhile, frightening undercurrents loom in the United States as already deep national political and economic divides and increasing government and corporate interference further erode hard-won progress on our guaranteed rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As a country, and by extension due to broad-reaching US influence, as a planet, we seem to be witnessing a descent into chaos and madness not unlike that depicted in the 1954 Nobel Prize-winning novel Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. In that story, school boys find themselves marooned on an island and attempt to create order and structure geared toward their survival and eventual rescue, but their primal natures soon emerge and carry them into a nightmare of power struggles, violence, and fearful chaos. (My favorite line: "We did everything the way grown-ups would. Why didn't it work?")
And so, to the point of this article: How could any part of the Trump phenomenon be perceived as "perfect"? How could the man whom many have called "evil" actually be a harbinger not only of destruction, but of creation?
Let me suggest a groundbreaking idea. What if our leaders, no matter how they come into office, tend to mirror the people they lead? In other words, what if our leaders are the reflection of where we ourselves are emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually in our own growth and development as human beings? What if our leaders reflect our own vision of the world, and thus, as mirrors, offer an opportunity to assess our own awareness?
In Buddhism (I am neither Buddhist nor an adherent of any other religion), there's the fascinating concept of Maya, or the Grand Illusion. Maya is a projection, like a movie, of how we experience reality. We generate this movie through our ego-driven beliefs, fears, and desires, doomed to continue the cycle of death and rebirth until we remember how to see reality clearly through the eyes of self-realization, or Buddhahood.
(Of course, it's important to note that throughout human history, peaceful peoples have fallen prey to more aggressive, dominating ones. This pattern is a remnant of the primitive parts of our brains and is rooted in our lower selves. The concept I'm suggesting here is related, but specifically addresses modern, post-Industrial times.)
Now, I realize that if you're an avid Trump opponent, the idea of our leaders reflecting your own inner realities could really rattle your cage. Stay with me, though, because it gets worse. In your fierce opposition to the Thing That Is Trump, you also helped call him into being. OK, avoid the knee-jerk reaction and listen. Remember the scene from Ghostbusters when the city is under siege from paranormal forces and Gozer commands them to choose the form of the Destructor? (Interesting in this context, no?) You probably remember what happens next. And I think that's what happened to America collectively in the 2016 election--intentionally or not, we all (even Trump's supporters) collectively thought about how someone like Donald J. Trump could never, ever, ever become our leader, and WHAM!, he appeared overnight as such. We chose the Traveler. (Yes, Russian tampering. The point is that he got into office. My premise holds--please read on.)
Not to make light of the situation with my Ghostbusters metaphor, but it is apt. Resistance is a powerful form of energy, and can translate "thoughts into things," as folks in spiritual circles are fond of saying. Even conventional medicine is beginning to acknowledge a strong link between thoughts and reality, leading us to acknowledge what we already know instinctively--that when we worry about things, we can actually attract them to us.
Although you might think of yourself as the most forward-thinking, tolerant, peaceful person in the world, you're still part of the human collective, with all the benefits and drawbacks thereof. And right now the planet's mass of humanity is demanding colossal change. Things aren't working for most Americans. We all know (or should at least be aware of) events that led us to this point of profound dysfunction, and also know about all the things that are going right in the world. Even as archaic ideas and institutions are being challenged, healthier new ones are forming to take their place, like here, here, and here. We're always witnessing firsthand the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction, which our most ancient human traditions say is driven by the inhales and exhales of the Universe.
In our demand for change, I believe Trump is the perfect leader to come to power for our own transformation as a country, and even as a species. Does he really mirror our own attributes? Let's take another look at that list and see, honestly, if we can recognize any of them in ourselves:
Corrupt: Have you ever abused your power or sold yourself out?
Greedy: Are you pretty much only concerned about you and yours?
Incompetent: Could you do your work better?
Chaotic: Are you emotionally unstable and ungrounded much of the time? Or are you numb to your emotions?
Egotistical: Does everything refer back to you?
Blustering: Do you act defensive and get aggressive when challenged in any way?
Terrified: Have you examined the fears that drive your daily decisions?
Angry: Do you take everything personally and deep down believe the world owes you something?
Obscenely male: Man or woman, do you count on muscle, willpower, and excessive thinking to power your life? Have you lost touch with your inherent feminine aspects of softness, receptivity, and cooperation?
Self-serving: Do you see others as stepping stones to what you want?
*Narcissistic: Do you see yourself only through others' eyes?
*Sociopathic: Do you lack a sense of responsibility for things that happen to you?
*Delusional: Do you maintain fixed beliefs even when presented with compelling alternative views?
Paranoid: Does it seem like everyone's out to get you?
Blaming: Do you tend to shift responsibility for your problems to others? Do you often feel like a victim of your circumstances?
*Note: Although these are actual psychiatric illnesses, I'm framing these questions for the average, non-psychotic adult to consider as potential aspects of themselves.
If you were brave and honest enough to find yourself an any of these descriptors (and who among us will not?), you might have gotten a glimpse into the powerful concept of others serving as mirrors of ourselves. (And yes, this is different from being egotistical. Instead, it indicates a willingness to examine why such reflections are showing up in our lives, both private and public.)
In light of this ancient idea that others are mirrors of ourselves, which is now accepted as spiritual truth by millions around the world and even in American popular culture, can we take the vastly more empowered and mature view that Trump is a signal to Americans and humanity at large that we must do our own inner work? If we can accept Trump as a reflection of all that is dysfunctional within We the People, and stop blaming the electoral process, other voters, institutions, and even other countries for this outcome, we have an unparalleled opportunity for deep, meaningful change as individuals and as a nation.
What would it look like for this transformation to happen? As an aspiring Human Being myself, here are some ways I'm personally finding effective in working toward my own evolution and cleaning up the vibrations I send out into the world, so what I experience changes for the better:
Practicing self-care: Learning how to say no. Creating quiet time for myself.
Meditating: Not a big deal--I just sit and watch my thoughts without judgement. Sometimes I ask myself, "Who is having these thoughts?" I observe my thinking, but don't try to "clear my mind." That's a disaster and bad advice.
Listening: To my body, to the planet, to sounds around me, to other people, to animals.
Body: Asking my body what it needs. Honoring the process and the food. Enjoying movement. Opening to new ways of healing from the inside out.
Addiction: Finding out what part of me doesn't want to experience life as it is and why.
Purpose: Discovering what my life purpose and mission are.
Acknowledging resistance: "Procrastination is an invitation to intimacy." Acknowledging and integrating all of the warring parts of me so together we can accomplish the mission.
Writing things down. If we don't remember our history, we are doomed to repeat it.
So, my dear friends, I hope I've convinced you that going within is the answer to changing what is without. The paradox (like a spiritual Easter egg) is that once you make these inner changes, you are no longer so affected or compelled by outer circumstance. As you discover the transformative power of inner work, you also begin to touch on the experience of real freedom, which is (sadly) why most people will never begin their work in the first place.
Nevertheless, if I can convince just a few people reading this to realize their true, inalienable freedom, and each of us does that and tells a few others, we will eventually find our way to living our highest potential, as I believe we were meant to do.
Meanwhile, the United States' hard-won reputation as a bastion of free-thinking, independent, and hardy pioneers has been taking major damage for decades, and has perhaps reached the point of collapse under its own weight. And yet, as more of us realize the need to do our own inner work and commit to that discipline, we will emerge again with a revolutionary mindset fit to lead the world into a future in which human potential is understood, nurtured, and regularly realized.
Update September 8, 2019: A paper by a recognized “expert” on political psychology predicts the end of democracy. Why? Because it’s “hard work.” I absolutely disagree with his assessment that “human brains aren’t built for self-rule.” That’s ridiculous and the author should be ashamed of himself. What lazy thinking. Beware the “experts,” my friends! Now more than ever, thinking for yourself is of paramount importance.
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