Donald Trump

The Real Election

This week was the first presidential debate, and in just a few weeks is the election. This election cycle is like none other in our collective memory.  Regardless of the outcome, what has been revealed during the process will remain: dissatisfaction, distrust, fear, bigotry, anger, and judgment. The election will not resolve these maladies. Which has me thinking that while November 8 is an election, beneath it is another election.

Yes, this election is about who will be president. It's about the balance of power in Congress and in state and local jurisdictions across the land. It's about ballot measures. All are crucial. All require sober thinking, reflection, and the exercise of our sacred right to vote.

Yet, in, with, and under the November election, is a different election, a choice, about what we hold to be real.

Beyond Hillary or Donald, beyond our political affiliations, beyond American citizenship, is a deeper reality. This reality, infinite and beyond form, encompasses everything else we hold to be real. It is within the first inhale of a newborn and the last exhale of a loved one. This reality, beyond mind and emotion, is the Sacred Essence from which we are made, in which we live, and to which we return beyond this life.

This reality is a palpable Love that dissolves our fears and disempowering stories. It is a clarity of soul  that breaks through the twin traps of comfort and discomfort to live more boldly, truly, and graciously. It is a vision that sees both the need for justice and the humanity of those who perpetrate injustice. It is the interweaving of compassion, self-compassion, forgiveness, and self-forgiveness. It is the Ocean rising and falling with each individual wave, yet existing beyond every crest and crash.

And so, we are faced with an election, a choice. Will we root our actions in a centered knowing of our own Being-ness, a Being-ness that also includes opponents?

Will we trust in a Reality so vast and so gracious that we surrender our drive to control everything and everyone? Will we let the Universe move through us and incarnate greater awareness, fairness, understanding, honesty, clarity, and generosity?

As we head toward this fall's vote, will we take responsibility for our state of consciousness, and act in alignment with it, no matter who wins in November?

That is the choice we face. That is THE election.

What Donald Trump and I Have in Common

“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes.” Steve Martin

This year's presidential nomination process is like a reality TV show populated with messy, overly-dramatic, self-entitled caricatures. The spectacle, while revolting, is also mesmerizing.

Yet I feel an inner tug pulling me away from the spectacle. In particular, I'm weary of investing energy in the Donald Trump melodrama.

I loathe his attacks on immigrants, women, Muslims. He is a vile, egotistical demagogue. Thank God I'm not like that!

Then this morning during my meditation I had a realization: I am like Donald Trump!

The truth is, I too:

  • Hate losing and don't handle failure well
  • Tend to be self-absorbed and self-entitled
  • Have racist thoughts lurking in my heart
  • Often feel I'm right, superior, and have all the answers
  • Try to preserve my perfect image and become defensive when my faults are mirrored back to me
  • Can be smug, patronizing, arrogant, and condescending
  • Vilify those whose political positions are the polar opposite of mine
  • Overstate, understate, or sometimes flat out lie if it will make me look better

Everything I despise in Donald Trump, I can find somewhere in myself, either as something I do, have done, or have the potential to do.

I may be more aware of and put more effort into mitigating my flaws than Donald Trump, and my imperfections probably won't have the same global impact as Donald Trump's, but I cannot self-righteously claim that we have nothing in common.

Empathy is to put on someone else's shoes. It is to imagine that, given certain circumstances, we could also behave as they do. Donald Trump and I are walking in different directions, but the same shoes fit us both.

Empathy does not acquiesce to abominable behavior. It firmly opposes it, while affirming the humanity, however deeply flawed, of the offender. It sees, in fact, it looks for a spark of divine Essence within those we oppose. That Sacred Essence within, which is the core of who we really are, expands our capacity to face and hold faults without demonizing, repressing, or fleeing.

When we face our shortcomings that others mirror back to us, we have a choice: self-judgment or self-compassion. If we choose judgment, we will project our inner demons on to others and find villains everywhere. We create more of what we loathe.

Or we can choose to have compassion for our flaws. Grounded in that Sacred Essence, we see our demons clearly and can choose to change the direction we are headed. We might even start to have an energetic shift toward compassion for our enemies.

Empathy and compassion are scarce in our public discourse. Without them, however, it is impossible to find common ground or birth innovative, unexpected solutions. Polarization and gridlock worsen, and there is no way forward.

Empathy is the way forward. It is not the entire solution. Indeed it's only a first step. But it's headed in the right direction.