For me, the crisis is over but the problem is ongoing. I’m not in a state of perpetual panic. The new normal is to read the paper with a sinking feeling as I learn of some new environmental regulation roll-back or the latest walk-back of a Trump tweet.
These walk-backs are probably the most entertaining news recently—to see how Trump continues his penchant for bursts of irrational anger and accusations, and how the people around him must pretend to be reasonable while standing behind that which is most unreasonable. Our current President seems congenitally unable to acknowledge that he has ever been impulsive, ill-informed, or just plain wrong.
Of course, all of us know what this is like. We’re all in the subtle business of projecting and defending an image of who we think we are. We all, at a deep level, think that we are a rather more reasonable sort of person than the general lot – slightly more aware or slightly more fair-minded and realistic. It is hard to admit when we are wrong, or have been ill-tempered.
Part of our work with an irrational and impulsive liar like Trump, is to use him as a tool to do our inner work. He is such an easy target to make into ‘the other’—someone who is clearly ‘not like me.’ He is irrational, irresponsible and mean-spirited. He thrives on fomenting fear and separation. We must, of course, watch out and protect ourselves from ‘people like him.’ But when we make him into one of ‘those people who are not like us,’ he has succeeded in creating the world he seems to want.
The inner work is with the part of all of us that is blind, narcissistic and irrational. Not a pretty picture, but part of every human who has ever lived. How do I begin to acknowledge my inner Donald? Can I begin to notice when I am carried away with outrage or blame? And when that happens, can I learn to not pretend that it’s not happening? Is there a way to work with our dark energies that goes beyond just suppressing and denying them?
And then, looking around us, what kinds of deniable dark energies of division are operating the same way within our country and within the world? Where are people being disrespected and marginalized? How can I open my eyes to the differences of power and privilege that are all around me? And what steps am I willing to take to create the kind of world I say I believe in?
This is where ongoing resistance is required. (Invited?) Inner work is only part of the picture.
Each one of us is constantly shaping the world through our thoughts, words, actions and inactions. The Bodhisattva path is an invitation to use one’s life to save all the beings of the world. (More on what this might mean at a later date.) I believe each one of us has something of immeasurable value to give to this mysterious and suffering world. Our truest happiness lies in uncovering our gifts and using them in service of the world.