Okay, I’m going there. I can’t skirt the issue any longer and even though I try to avoid politics, this subject goes far beyond mere political discourse.
There have been few figures who have spread divisiveness and chaos as much as Donald Trump. His election to the presidency has ushered in an era of unprecedented discontent and infighting, even amongst families and personal relationships. As a leader, he is juvenile and petty and has yet to display even the most scant ability to unify the nation or to advance policies to create a “greater” nation. He has merely created more bitterness, hopelessness and embarrassment.
So what are we to do? You know, those of us who dwell in the present, cultivate non-judgment, and peacefulness? How are we supposed to approach this?
One way is to ignore it. But how do we propose to help a world in the brink of an existential meltdown by pretending the problem doesn’t exist? Are we really living up to our claim of being peacemakers by having no response to a crisis?
On the other hand, we can embrace that this is what’s happened and now we can put our love and our compassion into action. Remember, we need compassion for ourselves just as much as others do, and this is the root of mindfulness.
We must accept that we can only do so much. It’s tempting to go on social media and bemoan the political environment and argue with those who think differently but this kind of behavior often ends in a draw with everyone being worse for wear. Our efforts to support our own opinion rarely produces a change of heart. Thus, Facebook and Twitter yield more in the way of a stress headache than in actual, appreciable change.
It occurred to me that the Trump presidency is an opportunity to put our mindfulness practice to work. Someone once asked me “aren’t you troubled by what’s happening?” I responded that I am. “So, do something!” they responded. I asked them what they’ve done. They had made a few calls to representatives, written some emails and joined a demonstration. “That’s great,” I responded, “but you could do all of those things without surrendering your peace” I added. They looked at me perplexed. It hadn’t occurred to them that demonstrating against a political issue can be a deeply mindful experience.
In mindfulness meditation, we often encounter unpleasant things when we sit. Instead of resisting them, we accept them. This disempowers them and allows us to float back to our breath and the knowledge that we are where we are, abiding in peace. What some struggle to understand is that when we do this, we aren’t ignoring those things. We’re acknowledging them but also acknowledging the present moment. In terms of the political environment, perhaps it’s like realizing the situation is troubling but knowing there’s only so much we can do right here and right now and that allowing our contentment and happiness to suffer only hurts us.
One thing that suffers most when there is contention is our ability to stay in place and grounded. Like strong waves constantly pummeling us, our grip becomes weak and we’re sometimes dragged under.
Opportunities to truly change the world (including the political climate) will avail themselves when you’re ready to see them. Maybe it’s becoming involved in a local campaign or initiative, partnering with others to petition officials and spread information or simply to inhabit the change you wish to see in each of your personal relationships.
Trump ascendency represents, in a grand way, the triumph of ego and unconsciousness. Maybe we are seeing the ultimate example of what happens when people lead unconscious lives and identify only with themselves. A kind of narcissism on steroids. So this is our chance to be the other; to be the living, breathing example of love and compassion and resist softly but surely against the tide.