“An ill wind comes arising across the cities of the plain. There’s no swimming in the heavy water, no singing in the acid rain. Red alert! Red alert!” – Neil Peart
Need I define the “ill wind” to which I am referring by quoting the lyricist of Canadian band Rush? Overnight, on November 8, everything changed in a most sinister way. I have often, and justifiably, been deemed an alarmist, but in this case, that epithet does not apply. Those who know me are aware that I was never a big proponent of patriotism, feeling it to be a vice presented as a virtue to keep the people in line and to swell the ranks of our various military branches. But even I, admittedly, still felt a certain kinship with my homeland, its traditions and its potential. That is officially over. Any vestiges of “connection” I may once have felt with the concept of The United States of America, even if just for the particular traditions I enjoyed that were distinctly American, have evaporated and they will never return. (Case in point: I ate meatloaf for Thanksgiving, nor did I waste a nanosecond “counting my blessings”.)
You may be anticipating an oncoming diatribe against the “president elect” and his psychotic narcissism, temperament of a petulant toddler, proud bigotry and unveiled provocations for his minions to employ violence against their detractors. Don’t get me wrong: I HATE the man and his bigoted, uneducated supporters, but it is precisely this hatred that I need to work through, conquer and ideally, transform into empathy and compassion. To anyone reading this who is consumed by hatred for those who voted in this authoritarian monster, I implore you: PLEASE do not give in to that hatred. It will only make things worse; not just for the “country”, but for yourselves. The old cliche that violence and hatred is a vicious circle is not just folksy wisdom. It is truth. Hate will not help to alleviate hate; violence will breed more violence. And this is precisely what authoritarians like our soon-to-be fascist-in-chief want; it’s what they have been promoting; in a climate of us against them, it will lead to their unbridled success (in the way they define “success”). Don’t misunderstand: I am not asking (nor would I desire) anyone to lay down and give up. What I am proposing is an entirely different mindset, one that transcends politics. Politics is, after all, an interplay between human beings and a hopeful compromise of their differing viewpoints. But we are no longer dealing with an administration (not to mention its rabidly nationalistic supporters) capable of compromise. To them, it is the ultimate weakness, regardless of the fact that it is a virtue, a strength, and the only outlook that can possibly work.
What we need now is compassion, difficult as that may be. Again, don’t get me wrong: I am by turns sad, numb, petrified, depressed, defeated and FURIOUS at the ignorance of the masses, media manipulation, and above all, the xenophobia that created the perfect storm for the election of such an unqualified, morally bankrupt, authoritarian, hateful, bigoted, narcissistic monster. But this multi-millionaire con man suffers, too…almost surely worse than anyone reading this. A man that is incapable of love or being loved, incapable of compromise, incapable of self-control, and consumed by a lust for vengeance is the very antithesis of a happy individual. I would not trade my humble position with his for any amount of money or power or fame (not that I valued any of those things in the first place, but you get my gist).
And here is step 1 in developing compassion for those you may hate, those you may consider your “enemies”: remember that they are caught in a prison of their own making and the ball they pushed down the hill so long ago has gained so much momentum that it may seem impossible to halt its continued downward trajectory. Anger is nothing more than fear. I repeat, because it bears repeating: anger is nothing more than fear. Take it from this author who not too long ago lived in a perpetual state of anger. After much soul searching and honest self-analysis, I realized that everyone and everything I hated were those I feared. Of course, saying “I’m scared” doesn’t seem a very “manly” thing to do, now does it? But I’m doing it now. I’m scared. Nay, I’m scared shitless. But anger never got me anywhere, other than more fearful and it created enemies…people who justifiably avoided me like the plague in order to stay out of my line of hateful verbal fire. Ever see one of those body-building or gun-toting types wearing a t-shirt that says “NO FEAR!”? You can bet your life those are the most cowardly people around. Unless someone has been clinically diagnosed as a psychopath, you can be rest assured that such a person is scared, no matter what his t-shirt says. As said, no one likes to admit that they are frightened. So in the blink of an eye, such people upon feeling the slightest twinge of fear cover it with a veneer of rage. Rage is more “manly”, you see. But hyper-masculinity is killing us and when the bombs start dropping, these “patriotic warriors” will be the first to run and hide. And if they don’t, they’ll be the first to die.
We are a human race. There are no further significant subdivisions. Race, gender, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), sexual orientation, or any other surface feature with which we divide ourselves are illusions (open up a reputable biology book sometime and you’ll see that I’m right). Tribalism is killing us. So I implore the readers of this blog, whoever you may be, to drop your tribes, even the ones in which you may feel pride. No white tribe, no black tribe; no liberal tribe, no conservative tribe; no male tribe, no female tribe; no Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic or Atheist tribe. If you MUST feel a part of a tribe, how about this: you are a member of the living things upon the earth (and perhaps the universe). Isn’t that enough? All is impermanent: your precious money (which is NOT wealth, it’s just a symbol for wealth and most rich people do not know how to enjoy it…hoarding is not enjoyment of wealth), your temporary power over others, your homes, your friends, your family, and even the planet…all are impermanent. They have no intrinsic existence of their own. Or, to put it as George Carlin once said: “The planet’s not fucked. WE are. We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks.”
We are all just whirlpools, temporary eddies in the energy that comprises the universe. Call it what you will: God, universal consciousness, Universe, or even the dance of grand illusion…we aren’t just part of it – we ARE it, and we call it into being every second of our lives. Energy never goes away. The egos and names by which we define ourselves, however, DO go away, as they never really existed to begin with. The most hateful person you know was once a baby, untainted by the ego fantasies instilled in him or her by parents, teachers, peers, religious leaders, media, etc. Don’t have mercy or pity; have COM-passion, for we are truly all one. Each of us is a temporary set of eyes that represent “god” viewing the universe from as many different vantage points as possible. If you can excuse such seeming blasphemy, you are god. So am I. So is everyone. So are animals and even inanimate objects. Intelligence cannot spring from an unintelligent universe of mindless and stupid matter (in a different blog, I’ll explain why matter is an illusion, too, but that would be too much of a digression here).
Stand up for what’s right. Help everyone you can, and don’t ask them their political affiliation or religious leanings before deciding to help. That’s irrelevant. Anyone who needs help (as well as anyone who doesn’t) are your brothers and sisters – in fact, they are YOU in a different temporary form. Help the oppressed. Don’t be afraid to show your support for anyone who may fall into the category of scapegoat du jour: Muslims, women, LGBT, Mexicans, Jews, African-Americans, atheists. etc. They are, in the truest sense, your brothers and sisters who arrived out of the dust of this earth just like you did. Different upbringings, cultures, experiences, education, religion, etc. may make it seem as if there is a world of difference between us. But all of the aforementioned things are contrivances. And we cannot afford to hate each other over contrivances. Please love. Please empathize. Please employ as much compassion as you can for everyone you meet. And above all, please have courage. I don’t know how things will play out, so I’m not going to leave you with the stereotypically comforting words: “We will be okay”. I don’t know that that’s true. But we have to try. It’s all we’ve got. Please don’t give up. I’m writing this to myself as much as I’m writing it to you. Please don’t give up.
I love you. Please tell that to at least one other person today. And tomorrow. And ever after.