Election Teachings

Shock; then grief. Or anger, then despair. These are the emotions reported by those who believed the polling, the mass media, the slanted *corporate-party line* in the months and weeks leading up to Election Day. If you felt them, you likely also fell for the propaganda: Trump is such a loose cannon that he’s been locked out of his Twitter feed by his campaign staff; Trump is a racist and a misogynist and we can’t possibly elect him President; Trump lost all three debates; Hillary is widening her lead in the polls; Hillary already has 264 of the 270 electoral College votes needed and there are 95 votes still up for grabs; even the story that Trump would quit near the end of the campaign  because *he can’t stand to lose*.

If you felt them you are likely scratching your head, wondering how the polls could be so *wrong* again. Like they were wrong about Brexit; like they were wrong in nearly every election since the turn of this century. Or complaining how Hillary won the popular vote but lost in the Electoral College, again. Or wondering who really *stole* the votes; as stories of fraud and voter suppression abound, uncounted absentee ballots pile high, and the media announces the winner mere minutes after the last voting booth closes, again. Why are you still perplexed?

Let’s step back for a moment and talk about elections from a broad view. You can only really have three types of campaigns in any vote: a vote for the past, a vote for more of the same, or a vote for an evolution of society and a change from both the past and the present. In 2016 these views were represented by Trump, Clinton, and Sanders respectively. Once the party machinery and corporate money was able to connive and bar Sanders from running (despite consistent polls mid-year showing him beating Trump in the general election while Clinton could not), we lost our chance to vote for evolving culture. And there are just too many people who have seen their *American Dream* stolen over the last forty years as prices increased while wages failed to rise. The pain and suffering of immigrants, natives, women, and people of colors other than white have finally begun to haunt and be felt even by the white males who felt impregnable in their privilege. When you feel pain, of course you look outside yourself for a cause; Trump fed that scapegoating by pointing especially to Mexicans and Muslims. The system in this country makes us racist; its structure was built on the backs of slaves and on the land of the natives, both stolen before there ever was an *America* to be *proud* of. The key to racism is separation: I, the superior human, can dominate and exploit, banish, or kill you, the savage animal that only appears to be human. The key to unhappiness is the feeling of separation; from family, from neighbor, and from Nature.

Some of us saw this coming; and not for the reasons you might think. Of course there were voters who chose Trump because of the racist or misogynistic themes of his campaign, just as there were people who voted for Hillary only because of her gender and a desire to break the last and hardest glass ceiling. But there were also people who voted for Trump because:

  • they find systemic rot and corruption the most distasteful aspect of this dominant culture. They don’t like it when a member of the upper class creates a foundation and then plunders it for personal gain; but they especially don’t like it when the donations to the foundation are made in exchange for access to the inner circle high inside our government
  • they bought the rhetoric about bringing back the American Dream; lots of sound bites but no real plan from either candidate notwithstanding
  • they saw their own shadow: according to dominant culture there is a difference between one’s public pronouncements and one’s private views; you can offer one message when speaking to your donors (in the case of Trump and Clinton) and a different message at each of your rallies and debates. We all manage what we say to co-workers in order to project a certain image, and what we say to them is often different than what we say to our lover. As above, so below
  • they saw their own shadow: we haven’t healed our history of oppression of others because of their race, class, gender, ethics, colonial past, environment desecration, immorality, and hypocrisy and lies. This oppression continues today, both within the structure of economics, finance and politics and within individuals, even people like you who mean well
  • they don’t like that the Obama administration has deported more people, and broken up more families, than any other President. And Clinton promised *continuity*, or more of the same; despite the negative things Trump said about Mexicans, more of them voted for him than for Romney four years ago
  • they don’t like the trend of shooting the messenger, the whistle-blower, and ignoring the message they bring out into the light. It’s not the Russians who hacked the emails, yet that message pushes (at least in mainstream media) the content of the emails off the newscast
  • they don’t like that no candidate spoke of healing our environment (impossible anyway under capitalism), no candidate offered any real plans to get more people working (impossible anyway under globalization, robotics, and computer technology), and no candidate spoke of ending the global war that America is perpetrating on innocents using proxies, war crimes, and hideous weaponry (impossible anyway as long as corporations can contribute to political campaigns). In other words, the candidate of continuity offers no change at all
  • they saw that they are falling further and further into debt while buying less stuff; they can no longer educate their kids without mortgage-sized debt; they can no longer afford health care deductibles and premium costs; they can no longer afford to buy a house in a good neighborhood when there are only two incomes deposited into the family bank account; they can no longer feel safe when the police cruiser pulls in behind them as they drive home from shopping despite being white; they can no longer believe that their vote is meaningful, counted, or even necessary; and worst of all, they can no longer trust that if something bad happens (illness, accident, job loss, or divorce to name a few bad things) someone will be there to help them heal despite their financial poverty

These are all the result of feeling separate, solely responsible for one’s lot in life, as if a dozen generations of exploitation, domination, and violence have not left a mark on one’s soul.  But we have yet to touch on what we can do about any of this; this was just to answer some of the shallower thoughts that are bandied about in conversations and posts and stories, all of which miss the ramifications of this story of separation. Now let’s go deep into what’s really driving this catastrophe…

What if we see this election and its result as a collective scream born of the pain of repressed shadow and ever-increasing separation and division? What if we humans, who evolved over 200,000 years as small tribes and family units that had to cooperate, had to work for the common good over personal gain, had to share rather than hoard, had to be happy because of satisfying relationships that moved when you moved rather than things that had to be packed up and moved constantly, had to be satisfied with *enough* because there was no way to store *too much*; what if we humans never took the detour into private property and money as a way to destroy our relationships and allow a few to build up class and power?

What if we still saw ourselves as part of the Web of Life, not as the masters of Life who can tear out parts of the Web without consequence? What if, instead, we tore down the walls we use to *protect* ourselves; from the future, from Nature, from each other? What if we spent more time outside in contemplation and relationship with Nature, rather than in distraction and separation with our phones and TVs?

What if the very tools we fear will be used on us: the Panopticon, or ubiquitous surveillance, can also be turned around and used to bring transparency upon the lies and hypocrisy that pervades our modern world? What if we find that violence cannot stand the glare of the sunlight when all things become transparent? What if we ask how far we are from reality when we think killing Libyans (or Afghanis, or Somalians, or Yemenis, or Syrians, or Iraqis…) makes Americans safer? How does killing bring peace?

What if we act in alignment with our basic human values of cooperation, equal opportunity, kindness and love instead of competition, privilege, and anger? What if, by opening up every social, political, and economic institution we find the same rot and viruses? How would we heal, ourselves and our institutions, from this plague?

What if we ask about our own resistance to change? Sure, objects in motion tend to stay in motion and tend to move in the same direction until affected by an outside force; thus it is easy to keep living as Americans in an unsustainable manner and to expect that others have to change their ways first. What if we began to change ourselves first?  Would we begin to see that our personal world is reflected in the outer world; that inner and outer are all just part of One Inseparable World? Would we work then to accelerate our personal growth and evolution; to clear away our shadow and face the times we lie, to others and to ourselves, merely to save image or face? Can we work to build real wealth: healthy relationships, healthy communities, and healthy Nature instead of more profit? And I mean that literally: can you start to choose relationship over things, love over fear, love over money, coat over heater, enough over hoarding, bike over car, even cash over debt? Can we focus on enough, on finding what is truly sufficient for today’s needs, without a fear that tomorrow someone will *steal* what we have worked so hard for? Can we replace the feelings of fear and scarcity that are drilled into us by media and people with feelings of love, for all beings and for Life itself?


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