Meditation is that light in the mind which lights the way for action; and without that light there is no love.

–J. Krishnamurti

The Wolves Revisited

It is a strange time to say the least.

People are beginning to publish more and more about Trump, raising awareness of the dangers he represents. The good news is he is being stopped, gradually, by people sharing the rapidly accumulating evidence of his patterns: authoritarianism, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, crudeness, narcissism, denials, divisiveness, blaming, lying, violence. Many are scared of what he is and what he means to do.

And we should be scared. Yesterday, I read a powerful Facebook post by Matt Haig, a British writer. Trump, he wrote, has already damaged the world. He’s damaged it because he “has allowed the international league of closet racists to step out of their little wardrobes of hate.” The post had gone viral. I read it twice and read the comments, too. Ten hours later, I was awake in the middle of the night re-reading those comments in my mind, listening again to that fear, meditating on it.

It is deeply tragic that there are so many people who are willing to follow Trump where he is going. As someone who has studied leadership for years, I wouldn’t ever call what he does leading. I’d call it siphoning people into a collective darkness. A sort of Jonestown phenomenon, Kool-Aid and all. People wonder how this stuff happens. Given who we are, the darkness will probably never give up all its secrets on that count, no matter how much we analyze human nature. My shorthand for it is Group Shadow. In this case, nearly impenetrable.

So stopping Trump is important — we don’t want to watch this metastasize by waiting too long — but not just stop it out of fear, because that is at first paralyzing but then quickly also can become crude and impulsive and can be violent in its own right, in turn propagating resistance and further mischief. It doesn’t do much good to insult the insulter, blame the blamer, hit the hitter. This surely isn’t a time for aggression, but it surely is one for courage — the courage to speak up, to say “Look at this!” and “We’re better than this!” and “No, not me.” and “You can’t have me — I won’t let you.”

What we can do is remind others (and ourselves) of the positive vision of who we truly are and can be. There’s no need to put anybody down. There’s just the need to build people up, to build a powerful and positive society, here and elsewhere. Essentially, as a personal matter, we need to get the Trump part of us, the “inner Trump” we might indulge in, out of us, and as soon as we can. And I’ll wager that inner Trump is pretty much all based in fear.

This all reminds me of the well-known legend about two wolves that I’ve told before:

A Cherokee elder was teaching his children about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to them. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandchildren thought about it and after a minute one of them asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Suzanne's Amaryllis

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4 Comments

  • Vanessa Vaile wrote:

    “Siphoning people into a collective darkness” describes the effect perfectly. Trump is an extreme example but not isolated.

  • Dear Vanessa~

    Thank you for commenting here, as well as on G+. I think there are worse examples, for sure. And there are many who seem on the very slippery slopes of personal or some kind of cultish collective delusion. One may well ask, how did we get here, to this untethered place?

    Increasingly, I think that’s the wrong question, as it may be a very long time before we are able to answer that question with any real degree of insight. The better one is how do we get out of the swamp together, exemplifying our best, rather than worst qualities? How do we embrace the whole dynamic in such a way that there is — even provisionally — something like reason and sensitivity drawing us forward? We cannot deny Pandora’s box, but we can — as smart humans have always been capable of doing — step back to calm down, to see, and then step forward again to fight for the virtues and ideals that are in danger of being torn to shreds.

    Best
    ~Dan

  • Vanessa Vaile wrote:

    As usual, I agree with your take — transition, as you put in the G+ thread. All too often, the second of “how did we get here” is “how do we get back” (or out). Another wrong question, one that can take those asking down dark paths or, if lucky, land them in dead-ends or send them going in circles. Unproductive. Going nowhere, not the way to manage or cope with transition.

    I’m sort of in education — retired but learning and exploring, curating and certainly cultivating my own opinions — a thinkivist as a friend burnt out on activism described herself. Anyway transition is there too. A number of otherwise intelligent, sensible people are not handling it well. And labor — think of the changing nature of work.

    Dealing with transition (whether embracing or just coming to terms with it) is the middle way between suck it up and resistance. Polarization is baggage we can do without.

    You might find Bryan Alexander interesting — an education futurist. http://bryanalexander.com

  • Vanessa~

    Thinkivist! Good for you. I love it!

    I believe it’s a little tricky to make comparisons between the psychological process of transition and the study of broader social transitions and mob behavior. Nevertheless, I’m drawn to the notion that viewed with that lens (transition), we don’t end up in such static space, which in the end exacerbates our fears because it can’t help but serve as a vehicle for our projections. Fear can never be entirely explained away with an intellectual analysis or social research. The explanations are all in part just more shadows on the wall of Plato’s Cave, even some that suggest a scientific “truth.” The lens of transition, at least, places an opportunity ahead of us if we can listen deeply enough and not get sucked down in the whirlpool of losses. The greatest of these opportunities to me is the national conversation about fear itself, and what it is doing to us at all levels, our history and our way forward from fear that is in direct opposition to the false solution Trump provides. This, to me, could be one of the greatest leadership contributions any of us can make. The absence of knowing where we are going as a country, what our positive aim is and what that calls on each of us to be and to do, to me is a big part of the problem. So far, none of the candidates in the Presidential race have actually addressed our national dilemma in this way.

    Thanks, Vanessa!

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