In the run-up to the election, someone said that if Hillary Clinton was elected, we would get a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” We would celebrate a woman being the first president and would appreciate her wide-ranging experience in politics. But we would fail to recognize that this is not a time in human history for someone who supports an old system that is dying. If Donald Trump were elected, it was said, we would get “a wolf in wolf’s clothing.” Donald Trump doesn’t hide who he is, what he believes, or his priorities. He tweets them out daily and his cabinet choices demonstrate his commitment to the rich and powerful.
Let me be clear about my own political leanings. I supported Bernie Sanders, believing he was someone who was committed to real change and could bring the country together. When he didn’t get the Democratic nomination, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I felt she was the best next-step to a better future. I believe I was wrong. I think the people are wise in ways that are not apparent. I believe that Donald Trump may bring out the best in the American people and perhaps the office of the Presidency will bring out the best in Donald Trump.
One of the things I liked about Bernie Sander’s message was his recognition that if the people didn’t rise up and come together in support of a better world, no matter who we elected as President, it wouldn’t do much good. I believe Donald Trump’s Presidency can bring people together in a way that can create “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” as Charles Eisenstein articulates it.
In May, 2016 I wrote an article, “The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President.” In it I said our presidential candidate, in many ways, reflects the subconscious view we hold of ourselves. “We may like to hear slogans that tell us ‘we’re the best, America is number 1.’ But the truth is deep inside we don’t like ourselves very well. And the reality is we’re not very likeable.
“It’s hard to feel good about ourselves when we continue to destroy other people and the life-support system on planet Earth. As Charles Eisenstein says in his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible,
‘Who could have foreseen, two generations ago when the story of progress was strong, that the twenty-first century would be a time of school massacres, of rampant obesity, of growing indebtedness, of pervasive insecurity, of intensifying concentration of wealth, of unabated world hunger, and of environmental degradation that threatens civilization?’
“It’s no wonder that rates of depression and suicide are on the rise, particularly among older, white males. Further, more and more people are suffering from chronic pain and are overdosing on pain medications.” One of the reasons cannabis (marijuana) is gaining popularity around the country is that it relieves chronic pain.
Our human ancestors lived in balance with the earth for 2 million years. Six thousand years ago, a blink in time in our human history, our attitude about the earth and its creatures began to change. Rather than seeing life, in all its diversity, as sacred and worthwhile, some humans began to see the earth and its creatures as something to be used. What we did to the earth and the creatures of the earth, we did to ourselves. We came to belief that we are all separate beings, each in our own world, that we must compete with others for our very survival, and its every man for himself. This “me first” story is coming to the end.
In his book, I and Thou, the philosopher Martin Buber says there are two kinds of human relationships: I-Thou and I-It. In relation to nature, ourselves, and God, I-It sees us as separate. Others are to be used for our benefit. I-Thou sees us as involved in a sacred relationship of communion. Others are to be respected and cherished. As Buber says,
“Love is the responsibility of an I for a Thou.”
We’ve reached a point in human history where continuing an “I-It” way of being in the world is killing us. Imagine a person where the brain sees itself as separate from the heart, the kidneys, the lungs. It’s every organ for himself. “I want your blood for myself,” says the brain. “No oxygen for you,” cries the lungs. That person wouldn’t last long.
So, here we are on inauguration day and our country is more divided than ever before. Our new President clearly exemplifies an I-It view of the world. In the mental health world, we call people who embody I-It as suffering from Narcissistic personality disorder. These are a few of the common symptoms:
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Exaggerating achievements and talents
- Requiring constant admiration
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Taking advantage of others to get what you want
- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Of course, I’m aware that labelling another person, even someone like President Trump who makes it so easy to apply labels, is an I-It approach to the world. I have to admit that I share many of President Trump’s I-It characteristics. I often see myself as knowing more than others and clearly exaggerate my own self-importance (I mean, everyone should read this article. What I have to say is so important). But we can move beyond I-It and I hope by bringing these characteristics to the surface, President Trump, you, and me, can all move beyond I-It to embrace, I-Thou. Sometimes it takes a power archetypal force, such as Donald Trump exemplifies, to help us see ourselves clearly so that we can choose a different path for our future.
Rather than protests opposing Donald Trump’s Presidency, I hope we have I-Thou love-ins in support of all that is sacred and beautiful about our country, every person, every animal, every ethnic and racial group, every being in this great community of life we call the earth. Your comments below are welcome and very much appreciated.
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