American President Donald Trump’s immigration ban is horrible enough. But then the murder of six Muslim men at a mosque in Quebec City, shot in the back last Sunday while in prayer – by a young Quebecois who admires Trump – was beyond unspeakable. Trump’s poisonous influence must be challenged wherever we live, most particularly to help those young people who feel disenfranchised, are most vulnerable to being manipulated through fear and misinformation and, subsequently, feel compelled to scapegoat cultures other than their own as the cause of life’s difficulties.
So heartening, immediately after these murders, has been the solidarity across cultures demonstrated by the thousands of fellow Quebecers who attended a vigil on Monday night. Many came as well the following night, to show their respect and to grieve, at a mass held in a local Catholic church. What was an unexpected yet welcome follow up, from that neighbourhood’s local MP on Wednesday was his apology in the House of Commons, plus asking forgiveness from immigrants who have experienced being ostracized and stigmatized.
Condolences, and further gatherings, are happening across Canada throughout this week, from my rural mid-western Ontario area to Inuit communities in Canada’s Far North, as well as abroad. Such community-based actions hopefully will continue, not limited to a journey of healing yet, as well, embracing a journey of celebrating life together across cultures.
We live in extraordinary times, when anything is possible, including the unthinkable presidential election of Donald Trump to one of the most powerful political positions in the world. What also is possible, conversely, is for all of us as human beings to tap into our own immense inner and outer resources and skills – too often left unrecognized and untapped – to co-create an amazing, loving world. First and foremost, therefore, we must stand up to challenge any forces of darkness that seek to destroy the human heart.
Wherever you live, now is the moment to express solidarity and compassion that is inclusive of the whole human family, proactively through a wide range of actions. At the same time, continuing actions, at all societal levels – from grassroots to corporate and political – must send a message loud and clear to the larger world that the dark forces of hate and extremism everywhere that Trump symbolizes, and fuels, will not be tolerated. We must reduce, and ultimately strive to eliminate, Trump’s political and economic influences.
In advocating “disempower Trump,” consider the definition of `disempower’ in the Merriam Webster online dictionary: “to deprive of power, authority, or influence: make weak, ineffectual or unimportant.”
This disempowerment already is happening through the courage and intelligence of various groups and individuals, yet must continue to grow across sectors of society in North America and internationally. For example, currently, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing over the violation of the Constitution on faith grounds, as per the immigration ban. Several federal American judges immediately blocked the ban’s enforcement, at least temporarily. Such stories are documented in The Financial Times, and more stories will follow, to map events and the needed counter-measures that will continue to unfold in the coming weeks and months. Indeed, denouncements of the ban, with legal actions in development, are being reported by a growing number of multinational companies.
Trump’s petulant childish recourse to anyone who criticizes him, namely, to take away his toys, i.e. his financial support, and not care about the human and environmental collateral damage has been well-documented, and now must be directly challenged. Consider the example of the Trump golf course fiasco in Scotland, from which he eventually backed out, breaking his word to create major local employment, when he no longer was allowed to persecute the brave Scots individuals who stood against his abusive tactics. Read a CBC news story on the latest episode of this Scottish saga, about how the local Scots brilliantly have raised Mexican flags in solidarity with the Mexicans, given Trump’s plan to build a wall to shut out Mexicans’ further entry to the USA.
Let us reverse the situation, given the pattern of news stories that too often report how Trump financially punishes anyone who disagrees with him. I implore anyone who has invested in Trump enterprises, as shareholders, to disinvest and instead reinvest in other businesses which support culturally diverse employees, locally and globally. The collective power of withholding such investments from Trump could be huge.
Speaking of Trump enterprises, I hope to read upcoming news reports from those folks in positions who can impeach Trump, and remove him from office sooner than later. Surely much evidence can be gathered, to prove not just blatant unethical disregard for the American Constitution and laws, but also his nepotism and, most of all, his fundamental lack of competence even to be in a political presidential role. He fired the (now former) Attorney General Sally Yates, who bravely stood against his executive order on the immigrant travel ban. How much more destruction will he reap, in order to build a totally autocratic government, brick by brick?
The man is a `sociopath,’ who fits the full description according to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 indicators for what the APA prefers to call “antisocial personality disorder.” Look up the list of indicators for this pervasive pattern of behaviour on the mental health website Healthy Place.
Earlier this week I turned from my usual Canadian news sources to an American TV program Tonight with Don Lemon. Several political commentators voiced important insights. Viewers were reminded how the failure of key political figures to stand up against extreme nationalism in the 1950s perpetrated McCarthyism’s morally reprehensible discrimination which destroyed the lives of many people, professionally and personally. The question raised was, could such a failure to obstruct Trump’s rash and radical actions to undermine existing policies and infrastructure cause similar widespread harm?
Among other cautionary observations, one commentator emphasized how Trump “sees himself as a disruptor” and enjoys the chaos that he is creating. Indeed, earlier that same evening on CBC-TV news I had seen Trump on-camera saying that everything was going well. My God, I said to myself, because his statement followed news broadcasts all day that had shown large demonstrations of people across America, and abroad, protesting his immigration ban. Incredibly, Trump loved it.
Therefore, yes, it is good for the world to see large crowds of Americans standing up against the increasing xenophobia that Trump has unleashed, in order to shore up the courage for more people to step up and support a unified human family. But, other types of actions within communities are needed as well, to ensure the social and economic stability, and inclusiveness, of all cultures at the grassroots level. Speaking out immediately against any expressions of discrimination is foremost.
Continuing initiatives related to the above-mentioned legal actions must be developed in North America and elsewhere. Civil disobedience, in and of itself, is not enough and, instead, could play into Trump’s hands. While he prefers the larger populace to remain distracted, and adores every type of attention, what really is imperative is the pursuit of practical actions to obstruct his unfolding trajectory to undermine every law in America that facilitates equality.
As fellow human beings, each of us every day can choose to express our compassion and kindness to the people around us and across the world, in so many creative ways. We must fill the `black holes’ that Trump’s lack of empathy creates with the Light of our own Love.
Understanding not only Trump’s mind but, furthermore, the larger psychological, religious and political landscape that enabled him to become president, is important. The Atlantic magazine has several articles that provide valuable, albeit unsettling facts, to enable us to confront unpleasant truths. Nevertheless, confronting such unpleasantness is a moral responsibility at critical moments throughout life, to transform human consciousness.
I strongly recommend The Atlantic‘s June 2016 article “The Mind of Donald Trump” by American psychologist Dan P. McAdams, who concluded: “I can discern little more than narcissistic motivations and a complementary personal narrative about winning at any cost…[H]e has nothing left over to create a meaningful story for his life, or for the nation.” Very insightful as well is McAdams’ outline of America’s nation-state authoritarian personality:
“During and after World War II, psychologists conceived of the authoritarian personality as a pattern of attitudes and values revolving around adherence to society’s traditional norms, submission to authorities who personify or reinforce those norms, and antipathy – to the point of hatred and aggression – toward those who either challenge in-group norms or lie outside their orbit. Among white Americans, high scores on measures of authoritarianism today tend to be associated with prejudice against a wide range of “out-groups,’ including homosexuals, African Americans, immigrants, and Muslims. Authoritarianism is also associated with suspiciousness of the humanities and the arts, and with cognitive rigidity, militaristic sentiments, and Christian fundamentalism” [McAdams, June 2016].
Even more unsettling is the very recent interview with McAdams in the January 2017 edition of The Atlantic, in which McAdams confirms that what he had stated in his previous profile of Trump’s authoritarian tendencies are manifesting even worse than he had anticipated then. Note McAdams’ follow up article as well, titled: “He’s Going to Continue to Create Chaos,” in The Atlantic.
Therefore, we have been warned, and hopefully awakened as well, through the more discerning outlets of news media and popular culture, those which take the higher ground to inspire our better selves about what is possible. Doing so, in turn, persuades us to be informed and choose life-affirming actions in our daily lives.
Let us not ever become complacent about the availability of well-researched information and fields of knowledge, where the arts and humanities play a significant role. Rather, note how such liberal freedom of expression could become increasingly under threat in the currently unfolding political climate.
The power, and freedom, of the arts to inform and remind us about what really matters must not be undervalued. Consider Meryl Streep‘s calm and eloquent evisceration of Trump in her 2017 Golden Globes acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award. (Scroll down for her full video speech and/or read the transcript.) I also cheer J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, whose essential theme is the supreme meaning of love. Rowling tweeted a passage from the Bible, in reference to Trump: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul” Matthew 16:26.”
Every person is capable of using creativity in a life-affirming way, and can join the voices of all caring individuals to make a statement, whether orally or written letters or other forms of expression. Consider the unnamed person who built a miniature wall around Trump’s star – bestowed in 2007 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – topped with razor wire and tiny border signs saying “Keep Out.” Scroll down to see this image shown in The Guardian‘s article on Trump’s obsession for attention and celebrity.
History has been bookmarked with a series of transitions, from societal to planetary. They bring out the best and the worst in human behaviours, in accordance with our choices to negotiate tough realities. We can choose either to evolve or, alternatively, to regress and self-destruct as a human species.
We may live according to different religious beliefs or their absence, yet at the core of all belief systems is the spiritual truth that we are all connected, energetically, to each other and to all planetary forms of life. Spiritual growth happens through the humility and grace to learn from life around us, through interrelationships, not through divisiveness and isolation.
Let us choose to act from our higher qualities of compassion, generosity, gratitude, grace, humility, inner fortitude, bravery and more, to rise above our own hurtful behaviours and fears, and instead function from our soul’s innate beauty and love.