An eerie silence pervades the land the morning after Americans elected a narcissistic demagogue President of the United States. Of course the commentariat, who were so wrong, and complicit in many ways, haven’t shut up. But the rest of us are stunned and saddened. The world is in uncharted territory.
Once, while backpacking alone, I got lost. There was a moment of panic, and I started to walk faster in what I thought was the right direction. But self-awareness overtook fear, and I did the right thing: I sat down.
This was in the days before GPS and cellphones, so if I didn’t get myself out of the jam that I’d gotten myself into, I faced the prospect of a week alone in the wilderness before being found, since I was due to be gone for two more nights.
It was a cloudy day and swampy area, and the trail I took had petered out. I had a compass but the path was so twisty that it wouldn’t do me any good in finding it.
After 20 minutes or so of remaining with my situation, there was an insight, and I saw a possible way out of the predicament. I had a red backpack, so I took the things out of it and placed the pack as high in a tree as I could. I knew the main path couldn’t be more than a mile away, and was certain of the general direction I’d come.
So I envisioned a wheel, with the backpack as the hub, and walked in straight lines, tying clothes and other things in trees to form the spokes. It took three or four tries of methodically carrying out my plan with a small angle between each ‘spoke.’ I found the path and continued on my way, having learned something about myself, and gained greater awareness of and confidence in my environment.
There’s always a way ahead if you don’t panic, but simply stop and look. It’s also essential not to take personally the
sorrow and depression one feels. It’s not ‘my sorrow and depression;’ it’s all of ours, even the misguided people who voted for Donald Trump.
A friend said she feels like she can’t wake up from a nightmare. “This is an evil man, and he’s going to change things,” she said.
That’s true, but is it worst-case scenario, with no escape from the swamp we’ve gotten ourselves into or is there’s a brief window of opportunity for a breakthrough?
Back in the 1930’s, the world learned that by collaborating, accommodating, or passively waiting, evil things happen. This morning, even commentators who lost relatives in the Holocaust are saying brainless things such as, “His first words were encouraging… democracy is unpredictable but must be respected.”
That is the counsel of ‘wait and see,’ when doing so will make it too late.
We need to begin pouring a new foundation and erecting a framework for the global society in which we all live. But we must do so quietly, so it cannot be torn down and jackhammered by the dark forces that Trump represents.
Nations will not disappear, but they are no longer primary. Pax America is history. The post-World War II international order is history. The nation-state is history. Man, the destroyer of planets, is history. What is our response?
Only weak sisters speak of a “weakening of the American-buttressed post-1945 global order.” They pride themselves on their sophistication, education and experience, but can’t even see and articulate the distinction between the dead empires and their international order, and the painful birth of a true global order.
My 91-year-old father, who has lost his body but retains his mind, predicted last week when we talked during Game 7 of the World Series that Michigan would go for Trump. I said if my home state did, the ‘homeland’ would elect Trump. Both our predictions turned out to be true.
In the same conversation, father gave the core reason America has elected a Mussolini-like clown to the most powerful office in the world. Nearly every time we talk, he rails against people who are ‘negative.’ By that he mainly means me.
And by ‘being negative’ he means writing and speaking about the darkness that underlies the veneer of norms and civilities; the pretence of American goodness and happiness; and the illusions of progress and unity.
Positive thinking is a whitewash of disorder and darkness. But things cannot be questioned without ‘being negative’—the only sin left in America.
The truth is both opposite and apposite. A saying attributed to Jesus (though not found in the Bible) goes: “Bring forth what is within you, and what you bring forth will save you; do not bring forth what is within you, and what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” America refused to bring forth what was within her, and has been destroyed.
So will it be the continued destruction of the earth, and disorder and chaos in the world for as far as anyone can foresee? Or will enough of us radically change, ending the tribalism of nationalism and igniting a creative explosion in human consciousness?
Sit down. Remain with the situation. Face your fear and sorrow. End division within you. Ask the right questions alone and with friends. You’ll see the way ahead.