Written by Jiovann Carrasco, LPC-S
As the electoral votes came rolling in for Donald Trump in the late hours of the night, and panic began to proliferate my Twitter feed, I realized I have no idea who America is right now. My Facebook friend list is a happy collection of liberal-minded, college educated, city dwelling do-gooders and Austin is this cozy little blue oasis in a sea of Texas red. Looking at the red and blue patches on newsroom monitors in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, or Michigan, I realized that I’m a complete stranger to the people who reside in the rural regions of these states. Who are these people?
It’s easy to imagine the average Trump supporter as blatantly racist, uneducated, loud-mouthed, sexist and basically idiotic. That’s what seems to make the most sense to someone who regards himself as among the refined, civilized, and progressive members of our society. Us. Them. We. Other. Well, what good did that do? Maybe that dichotomy doesn’t exist after all.
How America shot itself in the foot.
Every time we reacted to his bigotry or idiocy, we added fuel to the fire. We gave him more and more press. Every time we shamed him or mocked him, he arose even stronger. The media that he claims is rigged against him basically gave him all the attention he didn’t deserve and made him a star. You don’t fight fire with fire.
It is in our nature to react to pain; to push back against it. When you do that, you actually increase the resistance and energize your opponent. This is a basic principle in Aikido, a Japanese form of martial arts, which means “the way of unifying with life energy.” In Aikido, the martial artist redirects the momentum of his opponent’s attack rather than fighting against it. Our resistance gave him power, literally.
This is a core tenant of mindfulness. What you resist persists. In life, we can either move away from what we fear or don’t like, or we can move toward what we value. Please understand the difference here. Moving toward values has nothing to do with what anyone else thinks or says. It has nothing to do with what your opponent is doing. If you are attacked, try to use the Aikido strategy of redirecting its momentum instead of wasting your energy trying to fight it.
Compassion always wins.
If you value compassion, direct that compassion first toward yourself, then out toward those you love, those less fortunate, the voiceless and the marginalized. But you don’t stop there. If you really value compassion, you need to also direct it toward your enemies, those who defame or insult you. If you aren’t willing to have compassion for Trump and half the voting populace, then maybe you don’t value compassion as much as you thought you did.
Not that it’s easy. Compassion is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling. I will never feel warm feelings toward Donald Trump. But I can let go of my hatred of him. Oh it’s there, I can’t help it. But if I can recognize it, if I can observe it, I can let it go. That’s the only way to access the well of compassion that lies underneath. Why would I want to? It’s not like he deserves it, right? Compassion is something you do for you. Other people may be affected by it, but you are transformed.
Acceptance is not giving in.
We need to get to a place of acceptance at some point following this shocking turnout. Maybe not today or even next week, but let’s face it, Trump is going to be the president of the United States of America. The sooner we accept it, the sooner we can move forward. And moving forward is exactly what we are going to do.
Mother Teresa said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” We need to find ways to organize around our values and pursue peace, love, and compassion rather than fight against hate, bigotry, misogyny, etc. Move toward what we value rather than away from what we fear. The less we struggle with our fears, the more available energy we have to pursue our values.
America isn’t over.
Donald Trump is not America. YOU are America. Let this be a time to reflect on what really matters to you as a citizen of this great country. Not what you hate. Not what you fear. If you weren’t battling fear, what would you stand for? How do you want to show up? What kind of an American do you want to be? Donald Trump can’t decide that for you. It isn’t over.
If you value love and compassion for your neighbor, reach out and offer a handshake or a hug. Step outside of your safe blue bubble and make contact with that red cap wearing human being across the aisle. They also have kids, bills, medical conditions, casserole recipes, get self-conscious about their hair, cry at a good movie, cuddle their pets, love their mothers, and worry they’re not saving enough for retirement. We are going to have different ideas about what our country needs or how to fix the problems. But we’ll never get anywhere as a divided nation.
It’s going to be O.K. Don’t move to Canada! It’s time to come together now. Be honest about your fears, but don’t let them get in the way of living your values. We are going to be O.K.
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Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.