This morning I am seeing and hearing about even more horrible Trumpisms, tweets, statements and proclamations, believe me I’m applying that horrible label to all the hideous right wing politicians across the globe, promoting misogyny, racism, fear mongering and so on. I am seeing the frustration of everyone trying to cope with this endless tooing and froing between the political right, left and centre camps. The feeling of a civil war being raised in our homes and lives is scary and inescapable at the moment it seems. I am trying to stay unaffected by all this uncertainty, anger and fear, but here is the thing, I can’t and I’m not sure I should, despite the detrimental affect on my spiritual and mental wellbeing.
Lately I have been trying to get a better handle on why this is all happening, what is it that we are missing and how can we avert this rising tide of pain, fear and anger. I have been listening to a number of social analysts, psychologists and spiritual leaders and they are all saying the same thing, the reason we have all this global social and idealistic conflict is because the politics and politicians of the ‘Socialist reformers of the leaning Left’ have failed. They have left people behind on the battle field of equality and inclusion. In their enthusiasm to bring the much needed and long overdue change to an outdated and, not to put too fine a point on it, bigoted global society, the ‘Lefties’ (for want of a better description), one of which I admit to being (though more accurately, I’m slightly left of centre), have pushed, cajoled and bullied many people into a corner by demanding everyone be more inclusive and accepting. Sadly this has been done by inadvertently creating a Shaming culture.
Part of this culture has utilised social media to shout aggressively at everyone about being offended. They seem to be offended both by and for just about everything and everyone. The act (and I use that word with full intent) of even being ‘offended on behalf of…’, quite often without ever asking the … parties whom they believe they are championing, or worse, sending wave after wave of misinformation without ever checking the facts, all fuels this shark like feeding frenzy of negativity.
I know I’m not the only one to see a terrible irony in this state of affairs.
It seems obvious to state that when a person is not being listened too or allowed to openly talk to about their fears in a calm way, they begin to feel disaffected and of no value, this is precisely what the drive for wider acceptance and change in society has been trying to address for years and on many levels with women’s rights, rights for the LGBT and others movements, human rights generally. Sad to say we still have a long way to go on all that.
However in hindsight, the problem with thrusting the spear of indignation at society as a whole, whilst on the one hand feels utterly justified and necessary, is on the other hand only serving to create and define a perceived enemy on both sides. Perceived enemies become incrementally more fierce and entrenched the more the spears are rattled. Not only that, the perceived enemies will start to band together with others, often more extreme than itself, to find some sense of comradeship. In effect this only engenders the worst kind of tribalism in our society despite all valiant efforts to eradicate it.
As we have seen it eventually gets to a tipping point, then people like Trump, Johnson, Farage and their ilk come along to use the situation for their own ends, they use well understood rhetoric to bring people on side, they offer a listening ear and a loud klaxon to an unhappy multitude. ‘I’m listening to you, I understand your fears because they are my fears too’, they become a beacon to rally behind, whether they sit of a golden toilet in a golden tower or not.
In the minds of many they hear the clarion call and say to themselves, “My fears appear to be being taken seriously, especially by someone who is in the upper echelons of power, they will work on my behalf, change things for me, they are my ally”. So when my beacon of hope is accused of being a liar or worse that is me being called a liar! It is only natural to fight back, to defend them and entrench behind my new hope, meeting and matching the opposing guns, aggression compounding aggression. I will be yelling over the top “Don’t you attack him, he is the only one listening to me! You’re telling me all the things I have lived by all my life are now wrong and I have to change. You say I am irrelevant, outmoded and redundant, that the minorities have more value than I do, how do you think that makes me feel? Now I am supposed to put aside everything that has made me feel secure and give my way of life over to people who don’t speak my language, don’t think like me, don’t understand me” etc, etc.
There is an all pervading sense of loss, loss of identity and loss of value with our increasingly unkind blame culture, this alienates rather than brings people together. Unfortunately the language used by these cynical people of influence, power and money of this world, play directly to the fears of folk who feel marginalised. Rightly or wrongly, those of us with a more socially inclusive attitude are being seen as the bullies, the wagging finger, degrading all that has gone before, if we don’t want to stall the drive of social change and wider integration, we need to change our language and quickly.
In the process of change and in aiming for a more balanced way of existing in the world we have to stop the shaming, this method is undermining the real message of inclusivity, acceptance and worst of all it is stripping away kindness and caring.
There has to be a better way of being more inclusive without continually, unconsciously or not, stripping away the security of established ways of being and, perhaps unwittingly, devaluing huge swaths of people and making them feel the need to kickback with an even more extreme investment in those ‘outmoded’ views of what society actually means, perhaps not everything they are fighting to retain is actually outmoded, if we listened more we might find out we are not so far apart as the politicians would have us believe. The more divided they can keep us the easier we are to control!
We need better communication between the factions. The only option we have, on all sides of the battlefield, is to recognise that everyone is fearful, everyone is looking to be accepted for who they are, whether that be due to our religion, politics, philosophy, sexual orientation, gender, our attitudes to food, the environment, life or love, it doesn’t really matter. Allowing someone to have their view should not impinge on us having ours, we simply have to learn to live with a multicultural society or we are lost as a species.
Our mission should be to engage in creative non-judgemental conversations about our hopes, dreams, beliefs and cultures not to simply berate someone for being ignorant. We need to at least try to see things from another’s perspective and try to accommodate, compromise, accept with kindness, as much openness and active listening as we can muster, in order to bring a disaffected and divided society together and forge an new more healthy one. Hopefully with consistent, open and calm engagement we might be able to effect the kinds of change we all want, with everyone included in the mix, and, in the process cut out these people with power who are using us and our fears for their own purposes, those people who don’t actually have anything of real value to offer majority of folk at all.
Interestingly when things are in a bad state globally there is a quantifiable rise in people seeking spiritual solace in all kinds of religions, spiritual paths and philosophies. More and more people look for something greater than themselves, a spiritual flag to rally to in the heat of battle, something that seems to put some moral, ethical and spiritual soul back into the equation. To be sure there are no capital T’s on any one truth, there are too many versions, at least one for each of us, but there are commonalities we all share, no matter what our path. The common themes in almost every spiritual path are: we are all one, we should treat others how we would wish to be treated, we should care for our neighbours, all our neighbours!
The one thing that is sure and True, with a capital T, is nobody truly wins in any war. When we see an enemy across a battlefield we often forget they have emotions too, it is all too easy to dehumanise, to stop seeing them as people doing their best to deal in a life that makes little sense to them right now. We are all essentially doing the same thing, so, I will try to change the way I see and respond to people when they show little respect for my world view and attempt to have some compassion, even if they don’t seem to possess any themselves.
It’s not easy, I’m not sure how well I will manage, some people are more difficult than others to find compassion for, but for the sake of my spiritual belief structures, my sanity and the health of my community I need to at least try and raise a white’ish flag and call for parle. Tea and biscuits anyone?