What to say? How to make sense of the election results? I am still in shock at the end of the first long day of living with the reality of President Trump. And I am curious to observe myself and my reactions. They are illuminating some big shadows within and making me aware of my need to grow up and to grow up fast. Perhaps these shadows are shared collectively as well.
For many years I have foreseen collapsing systems and more recently I have been feeling like the little boy saying ‘the emperor has no clothes’ as I comment on collapsing social, economic and political systems. Systems collapse is inevitable and we needn’t try to resist it. So, I am surprised by my emotional and energetic response to this election which I see as the near total collapse of the electoral system. I felt totally deflated, numb, lacking energy. It was physiologically similar to my sense of total helplessness and powerlessness in my recent saga with UPS and my lost credit cards. What was this response all about? If I have been expecting systems to collapse for so long and I even characterized the US political system as such a collapsing system on election eve, then why this strong response?
Intellectually, I had stated that ‘neither of the two major candidates represent a future that I choose and for which I want to commit my life energy – neither a hateful, xenophobic nationalism or a capitalistic neoliberal globalism.’ But I doubt that I would have felt the same this morning had Clinton won. So, another glaring inconsistency. Or just a glib intellectualization of what collapse is all about?
What I realize is that there is a disconnect between my recognition and intellectual acceptance of the need for the old systems to collapse and an unconscious belief in those old systems, a belief that that everything is going to turn out alright, that wise and just leaders will emerge and save the day (my Bernie delusion). On another level, while I don’t think that Clinton would have provided any leadership in support of needed systemic change, I also realize that a part of me wants to go on living the benefits of the good life and postponing the consequences as long as possible – just another 4 years, say. Maybe the collapse could be kinda gentle and we could choose another direction without experiencing too much pain. And maybe science will come up with the solution to climate change. And then there is Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and…
I am embarrassed and ashamed to look at my inconsistencies and delusions knowing that I am only entitled to experience them by virtue of my educated, white, male status. If I were a black man in fear of my life when pulled over by police or if I were a woman living in fear of a bully ‘grabbing my pussy’ or if I were an unemployed and unemployable person looking at a very scary future or if I were a homeless Syrian fleeing war and wondering where I would find safety – if I were anything but a privileged white male I would not be living with these delusions that the system would right itself take care of me and provide solutions. So I am feeling a lot of humility today and recognizing the privilege of my welcoming attitude toward system change.
The systems are collapsing and system change is needed as much (and probably not any more) than yesterday. What has changed is the increased sense of urgency and my loss of innocence about what this means. Gone also is much of my unconscious trust in the systems that have protected and cared for me all of my privileged life. So I recognize that a big part of what I am feeling is mourning for these losses – losses of a deep level of identity and understanding of the world. Such existential losses are very painful. They pull the rug of security out and plunge one into existential uncertainty, unknown and insecurity (like losing my lost credit cards experience on steroids).
And, being one who looks for the gift in everything, I believe that this opens the door for experiencing the gifts of relationship and community in ways that are impossible without such vulnerability. It opens the door for discovering on a deep level that life will provide; that I don’t have to rely totally upon myself or upon systems created in my own image. It invites a discovery that together we can find a way through these dark times.
There are probably many more gifts but for today, it feels very important to allow myself to be shaken and to honor the mourning process. To really experience the loss and the pain of the loss and to allow old delusions to be buried. There is lots of work to be done, I recognize this, and I know that I have been entrusted with gifts and skills and friends to work with that can contribute to the conversations and the healing needed for us to collectively survive the coming years and to find new ways forward. I know that I will regain my energy and my passion and be ready to engage in that work and I am deeply grateful for friends who are holding me in this process. But first it feels important to honor the mourning process.
Finally, tonight I am very conscious of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. Their steadfastness in the face of the forces of violence and control is a role model for all of us. They are engaged in spiritual warfare, standing in love before the forces of power, greed and destruction. When attacked and injured, they forgive. This is the work that I sense will be called for frequently in coming days and I feel the need for more intensive and deeper training to be able to stand in such love against power.
While the country is divided and polarized, all is not darkness. There are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of people who were awakened by Bernie’s movement and they have not gone away as a result of this election. Actually, this may be what it takes to truly re-activate them. Hopefully people with a vision for a more just and inclusive future will sense this as a call to action and will answer it with the spirit of the Water Protectors. May we all become Life Protectors. And may we look back on 11/9 as the antithesis of 9/11 – the day that we collectively chose a future of love instead of fear.