Karl J. Martin said something very smart: that part of what we are seeing politically is similar to the stages of grief, or acceptance of death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance
Denial (“He didn’t say it”)
Anger (“Fake media!”)
Bargaining (“Well X and Y said things just as bad!)
Depression (Remember that depression is anger/fear with no one to fight and no where to run.)
What you have here is the reason Sun Tzu says to ALWAYS leave your opponent a route of honorable retreat. Otherwise, they will fight to the death, and you will lose more men…or might even lose a battle you might otherwise have won. There is nothing worse than fighting someone with nothing to lose.
As you see people moving through these stages, please remember to treat them as you would wish to be treated. And how is that? Well…compare to a dysfunctional or abusive relationship. We have invested ourselves, given ourselves physically and emotionally, and it is HARD to admit we were wrong. Remember what Swift Deer said: “Do not trust people. Instead, rely upon them to do what is in their best interests. It is up to you to be able to determine what that is.”
Proposed: much of the country made a mistake. Conned? Following a dangerous set of values, beliefs, and warped perceptual filters? Perhaps. Afraid of future shock? I think so, and I don’t consider that a sin: there is ALWAYS a tension between “we’re moving too fast” and “we’re not moving fast enough.” Often, the caution is correct. If it was not this time, if the urge to slow things down led to a seriously ill decision, remember that over the course of human history caution was a serious survival trait.
Most mutations do NOT create Wolverine. And as society evolves, we are testing different ideas about humanity, gender, race, sexuality, spirituality. “Who am I” (or: “who are we” or “who are they”) and “what is true.”
Its hard. It always has been. I don’t try to track all the ideas that make up political platforms. It is hard enough to gain or keep clarity about the underlying belief patterns. In the one I pay the most attention to, race (and regardless of what anyone says, NO ONE cares equally about everything and everyone. Everyone prioritizes unless they are capable of making no decisions at all, paralyzed into inactivity). And my thought is that we proceed toward an acceptance of the notion of equality asymptotically. The Civil War got us about 50% of the way there, at dreadful cost. The Civil Rights era, complete with riots got us another 25%. It is possible that we are dealing with the next 12.5% right now.
Apply these same patterns to gender, sexual orientation, fear of America’s changing place in the world, economics, pot-versus alcohol, Christian versus Non-Christian, “We are part of the environment” versus “the world is ours to use” and so forth, and you can see that “who are we?” and “what is true?” stuff boiling away.
And…we’re trying to resolve it without actually bringing out the knives and killing each other. Anyone who says “we’re more divided than ever” is really just saying “we’re more divided than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
THAT is probably accurate. But it is also short sighted. Humans are doing the best they can, and anthropologists tell us that our past was more violent and contentious than our present, by a wide margin. We’re getting better. Communicating better. Loving more and fearing less. Which implies seriously disturbing things about what our ancestors were dealing with. The pains and fears our ancestors accepted as their daily dose of reality.
As for what is happening now, remember the steps:
- Love yourself. Learn to deal with the stress in your life so that it doesn’t become strain.If you aren’t sleeping well and waking up refreshed, this could well be a factor. DEAL WITH THIS. Protect yourself, or the stress will break you.
- Love one other person. Open your heart. It will teach you that no one is perfect, we all sin, we are all flawed. We also learn that in arguments, fear shuts down the logical faculties, even when arguing about trivial things. That’s what we do.
- Understand history without guilt, blame or shame. If you can take responsibility for your own flaws, and love yourself anyway, and love others despite their flaws, studying history will show you that there is NOTHING happening now that has not happened before. Trump was the very definition of a political Hail Mary pass. People didn’t like the direction the country was going, and tried something drastic. It didn’t work.
- Protect your tribe. Don’t argue with sleepers or snakes. Most of the citizens of our country, or of the world, are decent people just trying to live and raise their families. They make mistakes, as our ancestors did. As the people you love do. As you have. Take no shit, but don’t GIVE more shit than you have to, either. If we are one soul looking out through many eyes, you are seeing a lot of wounded, frightened people, people who don’t understand that the world is changing and that’s all right. Some of them are awakening. If they do, remember that they are your brothers and sisters and children and neighbors. Welcome them in from the cold. Off them shelter. Few of them are snakes, even fewer are monsters. Most were just asleep.
- Win…with integrity. We are winning. The wheel is turning, and mythologies thousands of years in the making are breaking down. Of COURSE there is resistance. Fear. Anger. Be strong, but gentle. If you get angry, that is fear. If you are afraid, you are hypocritical not to grant others the right to be afraid. Deal with your fear, and your anger will dissolve. And from there you can say:
You made an error. We all do. Maybe next time I’ll need you to forgive me for my errors. Let’s talk together as human beings, as Americans, and put the knives down. If I am attacked, I will defend myself and my tribe–by closing the door. And my tribe? Anyone willing to address the question “who am I?” and “what is true?” from a position of human equality. That’s the starting place. If you can leave your need to feel superior at the door, there is a place for you at the fire. And even if you cannot…I understand. It is ultimately a matter of faith. And whether you can make that leap or not…I still have faith in you, and nothing you can do can shake it.
I am stronger than your false self-image. My truth is stronger than your nightmare.