I haven’t been blogging lately, but Goddess knows I’ve been writing. Conference papers, a Ph.D. dissertation in its early stages, marketing, and content for a new business website have all been occupying my writing lobe, keeping me far away from my deep, internal, home space. I have been an exile in the world of making money, expanding my Vitae, my reputation, my brand recognition, all so I can launch my business and help to ease some suffering. Suffering in exile in order to find people who want to find some way to ease their suffering. What a strange circle I have created.
Blogging gives me a chance to reflect, to stop, and think about something else, something not dollar driven. The world of commerce, commodity, digital marketing, and communication is exhausting. I have the soul of an artist, a creative and a thinker. I could sit on the beach, watch the water, think all day, and never be bored, for weeks. Then I might come up with an idea and I would feel the muses urge me to write it down. It speaks to the need of just being. Those quiet moments are few and far between for everyone these days.
The question many of us seem to be dealing with these days is, ” How many balls can I keep in the air before I drop one or the other?” Technology is fantastic, yet, as it speeds ahead we have to go faster and faster to keep up with what seems like daily changes to operating systems, upgrades to hardware, revisions of programs and new app developments. It exhausts me thinking about it. Politics isn’t helping either. Are we better off than we were 4 years ago? 8 years ago? 10 years ago? Was it better 20 years ago?
It doesn’t matter. All we have is now. Making the best of now. Making it better now, for everyone. Ease the suffering. Ease the suffering. It is my, “If you build it they will come” whisper. It’s in my ear constantly, it’s in the wind and the sighing of the sea.
So here I am, back home from the wilderness of commerce for a minute or two, going to ground, touching base with my Self. I’m tired, I’m a liberal, and I am frightened about so many things that are happening. From N. Korea and the Russian sandal to the environment, and global warming, to poverty, defunding of education, and healthcare… the list goes on and on.
I will keep fighting and working because there is no rest in giving up, not when there is still and always so much suffering. Ease the suffering. There it is again, revealing my privilege.
Sitting in front of my computer tonight, the night before Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, I am resigned to do battle. I am Merry riding double with Eowyn, heading straight into a battle from which there is likely no return.
Or am I Eowyn, taking my destiny out of the hands of others and riding into battle with another more innocent than I in my care? I am both.
Donald Trump’s victory took me and many others by surprise. It is a hard lesson and an important one for the Democratic Party, realizing that there were so many people feeling voiceless, exhausted, desperate, defeated, and angry after a long, unwinnable war and a Great Recession which ripped jobs, homes and hope from so many. It has been a tough eight years; my family was on the verge of losing our home more than once during the recession.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Faced with political candidates that represented the same policies that had not produced results, millions of voters put their hope in Trump. He offered a new, everyman appeal that resonated with disenfranchised Americans. A multimillionaire, whose home is gold-plated, who has divorced and bankrupted more times than I care to count, tells us he is going to fix everything and he is the only one who can do it, and many people believe him. Desperation makes people believe and do almost anything.
Donald Trump is what archetypal psychology calls a Trickster. It is not something you try to be, it is an energy that is created by and acts on the culture you live in. We conjured him with our desperation. The father of archetypal psychology, C G Jung writes regarding the Trickster archetype; “. . . he is a faithful reflection of an absolutely undifferentiated human consciousness, corresponding to a psyche that has hardly left the animal level” (Jung, 1969, p.260 [CW, 9i, para 465]).
“The trickster is a universal figure, appearing in myths across cultures. The trickster is a figure of excess, especially of eating and drinking, and of sexual exploits, often depicted with an enormous phallus — the very grotesqueness of his figure denoting an inversion of order. The trickster is a breaker of taboos, a joker and prankster, the best of companions, but also a thief, a liar and an impostor; the mediator between the gods and the humans, a figure of shadow and night, the one who accompanies the soul of the dead into the underworld, snatching himself a soul now and again. In many storylines, the trickster is a vagrant who happens to stumble into a village, appearing as if out of the blue, just as a crisis has erupted. He tries to gain the confidence of villagers by telling tales and cracking jokes. He is an outsider without existential commitments. He is also a mime, telling people whatever they would like to hear — all according to the occasion. The trickster holds no real knowledge but practices a cunning intelligence. The trickster manages to impose himself, not because of his real qualities, nor by enabling the people around him, but by blurring distinctions. Rather than making clear the difference between truth and lie, the trickster thrives in ambivalence. While presenting himself as a solution to the crisis, he actually perpetuates insecurity by blurring boundaries and undermining the very sense of distinction and judgment. In fact, the trickster is not really interested in solving the crisis. His real interest lies in perpetuating conditions of confusion — his own habitat. The trickster is a demonic clown.
The sense of empowerment that tricksters manage to produce feels real enough for a while, but it evaporates as suddenly as the trickster entered the stage, and dissolves in nothingness. Before that happens, however, entire societies can drive themselves to destruction. The trickster is a professional in creating and escalating division up until violence breaks out, at which point he manages to represent himself as a savior. That is why in many cultures the trickster is defined as a ‘second creator’ — a nullity, a nobody, a prankster who yet, under special circumstances, creates the world in his own image.”
As a Trickster, Trump creates his own reality and it doesn’t matter if he changes his positions from day-to-day to him they are all true. A trickster lies, and in his mind, the ends justify any and all means. So here, now, we are left with all of his campaign promises, with which he won the election.
“I will not touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
“I will bring manufacturing back to the US and millions of jobs.”
“I will replace Obama Care with something better and everybody will be covered.”
“I will lower taxes on the Middle Class.”
Time will tell if President Elect Trump will even try to deliver on his promises to his supporters, or if like the Trickster, he will do what he wants when he wants, without care, regret or shame. Only a trickster would nominate people to his cabinet who want to destroy, cripple or eliminate the departments they are nominated to lead.
So, Like Eowyn and Merry, I will ride out and do battle to preserve the environment, slow climate change, preserve public education, save our heath care, social security, support massive infrastructure and green energy spending, fight for civil rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous people’s rights and women’s rights.
The trickster comes at a time when a society needs to wake up and face its shadow, face its failures and do better. We Can Do Better. We must do better for all Americans, the world, and the generations to come.
This post first appeared in the Opinion section of The Santa Clarita Gazette, by Andrea Slominski on 8/04/2016
It is possible that the words of a Harvard-educated Muslim immigrant from Pakistan, and his wife, may just save us from ourselves. How fitting, that by sharing their love of America, their reverence for the Constitution, and the insurmountable loss of their son to suicide bombers, that Khizr and Ghazala Khan remind us of the principles that structure our republic, and that have held it together for our brief 240-year history. We are stronger together. Together, Americans have achieved the improbable.
Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s son, Captain Humayun S. M. Khan, was killed by two suicide bombers at a checkpoint north of Baghdad on June 8, 2004. In fact, suspicious of the approaching vehicle, Captain Khan ordered his men to “hit the dirt” and stay back, while he took another 10 steps forward, stopping the car. The two suicide bombers inside detonated their vests, killing Kahn and wounding 10 other U.S. soldiers. That is the definition of a hero. He put the lives of others before his own. He protected his men.
In an interview with “Vocative,” an online news source, Khizir Khan said, “Muslims are American, Muslims are citizens, Muslims participate in the well-being of this country as American citizens. . . . We are proud American citizens. It’s the values (of this country) that brought us here, not our religion. Trump’s position on these issues do not represent those values,” he said.
How ironic and beautiful that a Muslim American Citizen, an immigrant, whose story IS the American Dream, should school Donald Trump on what it means to be an American, what is means to defend the Constitution, and the equal rights it offers all citizens.
Khan continued, speaking of his son, “Values that he learned throughout his life came together and made him a brave American soldier. This country is not strong because of its economic power or military power. This country is strong because of its values, and during this political season, we all need to keep that in mind.”
Yes, we do need to keep that in mind. We also need to remember Mr. Khan’s remarks at the Democratic convention.
“If it was up to Donald Trump, (my son) never would have been in America,” Khizr Khan said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities – women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. . . . Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America – you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one. We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division. We are stronger together.”
Boom. Mic Drop.
This is a column I recently wrote for “The Santa Clarita Gazette” a conservative paper in my hometown. I will be writing weekly, the opinion column “Lean to the Left. This is my first…to go to the column copy and paste this link into your browser. https://santaclaritafree.com/gazette/opinion/lean-left-global-warming#comment-27090
Global Warming, or why our grandchildren will most likely hate us.
The biggest problem currently facing humankind is global warming. Boom. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if we believe it or not. With or without our consent and acknowledgement, the oceans are acidifying, sea level is rising, and permafrost is melting, releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane holds atmospheric heat 30% more efficiently than CO2,, thus increasing the rate of warming and it’s effects on the oceans. The planetary crisis of Global Warming has caught up to us. When I was an undergrad in 1978, studying marine biology, it was already happening. My professors at the University of Rhode Island, home to one of the finest marine research facilities in the world, were screaming about it then. No one would listen. They were considered alarmist, nuts. Well, people are beginning to listen now.
“On July 20th, (2015) James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public’s attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren’t cut, ‘We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization’” (Holthaus).
Scary and true. Currently, there are over 400 dead zones in the oceans documented by oceanographers, where no life exists. Divers are frightened by it: They should be. We were never meant to be alone in the oceans. In his book Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts quotes the scientists who dove in; “As you go deeper, it gets kind of scary. Because there’s nothing there. There’s no fish, no organisms alive, so it’s just us” (121). Predictions for the future of the oceans run the gamut, from hopeless, to hopeful. Ocean acidification, due to the high levels of CO2 the ocean is absorbing from the atmosphere, is already beginning the dissolve the shells of snails, oysters and mollusks and kill off plankton, the base of the food chain.
Did you know that nearly half of the world’s populations live on or near the coast, harvesting twenty percent of their annual protein from the oceans? Poor and rural communities harvest thirty percent more. We are facing rising sea levels, acidification, the looming extinction of species and growing garbage patches that cover hundreds of miles in all of the deep ocean gyres. Whether you like the terms Mother Earth or Mother Nature the truth is the oceans feed us, and are the regulatory systems and engines of weather patterns, droughts and floods alike. How many refugees will be created by flooded coastal cities and parched farmlands? How are we going to care for our families and each other? What kind of world are we leaving for our children and grandchildren?
A movement has begun in both the Eastern and Western traditions, re-assessing the role of religion and the church in environmental leadership. Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home” was an eloquent and timely plea to the world, an environmental and social call to action. Equally, the life’s work of the Dali Lama has been of care and compassion for all living beings, including the Earth. Time is running out. We must deepen our concern and broaden our actions on a massive scale in order to save our oceans and our planet, for our grandchildren and their children, lest our names memories, and lack of action, be cursed throughout history. It’s time for some serious American, environmental, leadership. We got to the moon in eight years after we made the decision to do it. Let’s ditch fossil fuels, we can do it; we are Americans and we can do anything we put our minds, grit, muscle and heart into.
Some kids love to go back to school, they have lots of friends and socialize well! They love the ritual of new sneakers and new pencils; they rebound from disappointments and defeats and learn from their mistakes, in class and on the playground. Some kids have a more difficult time. They may be shy, they may not fit in with the crowd, they may be different somehow. . . Some children hate going back to school.
We need to pay attention to our children, we need to be mindful of the ones who don’t fit in; in grade school, middle school, high school, college and beyond.
Children and adolescents who feel isolated and alienated are often lonely, sad and sometimes, angry and volatile. They all grow up. They grow up and very bad things can happen when their mental heath needs are not diagnosed and treated.
We need to make young people’s mental heath a priority, because for some, back to school is Back to Stress, Peer Pressure, Bullying and Performance Anxiety. This desire to fit in with a group doesn’t change as we get older.
If we could cheerlead our community’s mental health with as much gusto as we cheer for our sports teams, club teams and celebrities we would go a long way toward eliminating the kind of violence we have seen so much of the last few years.
Dylann Roof, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church South Carolina, 2015. 9 dead.
Elliot Rodger, UCSB, 2014. 6 dead, 14 injured. Shooter commits suicide.
Adam Lanza- Sandy Hook, 20012. 28 dead. Shooter among the dead.
James E. Holmes-Movie theater screening Aurora, Colorado, 20012. 22 dead, 58 wounded.
Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech, 2007. 32 dead. Shooter commits suicide.
“The FBI found that education environments were the second-largest location grouping for active shooters, totaling 39 incidents at K-12 and institutes of higher education from 2000 to 2013” ( Washington Post).
Maybe if someone—a teacher, a parent, an Aunt or Uncle, or family friend— had intervened; maybe if these shooters had been treated or hospitalized, this terrible legacy would never have begun. Because sometimes, those who didn’t fit in during childhood, grow up to commit atrocities as adults.
Let’s be mindful not just of ourselves, but of one another, for yes, when it comes to mental health, we are each other’s keepers.