Category Archives: Trump

Change

Where We Started

As Neil DeGrasse Tyson points out, we are made from stardust.  It takes a supernova to generate the energy to create the heavier elements.  That stuff diffuses, then gravity slowly congeals into new bodies.  Now this takes time, many millions up to billions of years.  Even geologic time is somewhat inconsequential compared to galactic time.

That’s a reason why we are so deluded with respect to time.  For children, the weeks leading up to Christmas can seem like forever.  It’s no time at all.  However, sometimes when I sit in meditation, time seems to stand still and I get jumpy.  In truth, our lifetimes are meaningless when viewed from even the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way.

The message in this?  Chill, already.  The therapist I saw for my ADD had me put a sticker saying NBD on the dash of my pickup.  No Big Deal.  Universes come and go in the blink of Kali’s eye, and we are obsessed with He Who Must Not Be Named’s tweets.

What is important is what we do with this tiny minute we are here.  I am attempting to connect with that eternal universe I tend to ignore most of the time.  Going back to the roots.  Well, the roots are made from stardust.

My brain gets oxygen and food these days, so it goes into action, what it evolved to do.  The action is thinking.  Thoughts arise, mull around, and pass to something else.  We are physically safe most of the time, so it isn’t really necessary to be on alert all the time.  The saber-toothed tigers are gone.

So, my task is to stop thinking so much, and just be space and stardust.  It’s where we came from and where we are going, so why not just be with that?  When I am able to let the clutter go,  I am more in harmony with the changing universe, not my nearly ceaseless churning of the noise I absorbed yesterday.  What arises, fleetingly, is equanimity and serenity.

In the long run we are all dead, so what’s the big deal?  Maybe we need catacombs, ossuaries we visit regularly to remind ourselves of the impermanence of it all.  I would like ho hold Nietzsche’s skull in my hands.  So much for the Ubermensch.

Can’t we all just get along?  If I remember something, I wand to remember yesterday’s sunset and look forward to the breeze in my face as I walk out of the coffee shop.  Oops, there I am thinking about the future, not enjoying the nice people in the coffee shop.

 

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What to Do Now?

President Elect Trump

President Elect Trump

I have a few strategies for dealing with the President-elect.   Why do I oppose him?  He is a Chickenhawk.  I am a veteran and don’t think much of people who dodge the draft and want to send our servicemen into combat.   

 If he requires all Muslims in the U. S. to register, I plan to register and encourage everyone I know to do so.  If millions of Americans do so, the registry will be useless.  What will they do, deport me to Kansas?  I think all religions are proper for people, so I won’t have any conflict with registering as a Muslim. 

The next plan I have is to be more active in organizations I support.  I am an environmentalist, so the Nature Conservancy, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Defense Fund will have a new volunteer.  I think taking positive action with organizations is a better strategy than blind opposition.   

I am a Democrat, so I am debating becoming active in the Democratic Party.  Years ago I attended some meetings and wasn’t enchanted by the whole thing, so, maybe.

I write, and will continue to do so. I do not intend to go into attack mode.  I don’t think negativity is the proper course for my writing.  I may try to promote some of my writing.  Mr. Trump uses negativity as his main strategy, so my response will to be positive about promoting positive action in our weakened republic.  I will support good causes and good people. 

 

 

At the Crossroads in 2016

This is a guest post by my wife, Carol Leavenworth.

At the Crossroads in 2016

By Carol Leavenworth, LPC

Most of the time I try to ignore politics.  But this year the presidential campaign has become so bizarre that I’ve been watching with a kind of morbid fascination.  How did we get here?  How could a man like Donald Trump possibly have become a serious candidate for President of our country?

 As a Jungian therapist, I have to ask myself how I and other politically liberal people may have unconsciously contributed to Trump’s success.  Observing the contrast that emerged from last month’s political conventions between the Democrats’ positive vision for the future and Republicans’ negative and pessimistic view, I think I have begun to understand why these two wildly disparate standpoints appeal to such vast numbers of Americans.

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

As a psychotherapist I know that the loss of the fundamental safety and comfort that we enjoyed while we were held in our mothers’ wombs is a universal human experience.  At birth we are thrust into a world of uncertainty and fear where our needs will never again be met instantaneously and our very survival is not necessarily assured.  And life continues to become ever more precarious from there. The story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden reflects this experience. 

Life outside The Garden is filled with danger and risk.  Growth is impossible unless we embrace this reality.  We must leave our mother’s side and venture out into the world – to school, to work, to new homes that we create for ourselves.  That most of us do this pretty well doesn’t mean we are always comfortable with our lives or that we necessary feel all that safe. 

But we want to be.  A primary motive driving us throughout adulthood is to find the lost wholeness, safety and comfort that some small part of each of us vaguely remembers from the far distant past.

In tough scary times like these, this drive is even stronger.  To allay our fears and satisfy deep needs to feel safe and whole we are inevitably drawn to leaders who  encourage us to lay down our burdens and give over our struggle to a strong parent figure who will make it better for us.  This is a profoundly human impulse, and today Donald Trump is the man who is appealing to that impulse.

 Well good, you might say.  Why not let him do it?  The difficulty here is that it won’t work.  We can’t resolve life’s important challenges by giving in to shadowy fears and returning to old dependencies.  Going back will not help.  In fact whenever we act on these regressive impulses, we risk ending up worse off than before.  Think back on your own life.  Most if not all of us can find instances in our own personal histories when we’ve chosen what we thought was the safe road only to find ourselves with more problems than ever.

But if we can’t go back, what will work? 

It was First Lady Michelle Obama speaking at the Democratic Convention who reminded me of the viable and healing way through dark times.  Her remarks swept away the negative and pessimistic mindset that I had fallen into as I watched the nightly news reports throughout the winter and spring.  Hearing her, I recalled to myself the truths that I try to impart to others in my work as a psychotherapist.  It is the choices we make from our best selves that are the ones that enable us to move forward in resolving life problems, big and small. Even more importantly these are the choices that build the inner capacities and strengths that will ultimately bring each of us to a new experience of the abiding wholeness and safety that can arise only from within.  We heal ourselves and the world in the process of creating, developing and expressing our best selves.

Crossroads

Crossroads

The enormous divide that we see between the two major candidates for President tells us that we have arrived at a great crossroads.  Eight years ago we made a courageous decision to elect the first African American man to the Presidency.  He pulled us back from the brink of worldwide economic ruin and brought us here to the time when we are asked to make the even more courageous decision to elect a smart, politically savvy, seasoned and progressive woman to be our President. 

Hillary Clinton points us to a future where we face the challenges that confront us head on rather than building walls and hiding behind them.  She invites us all to work together to secure our futures.   She affirms that none of the tasks before us can be solved by one person or one group.   She does not promise to take care of us.  She promises to lead us.  And she asks us to dig deep once again and act from our best selves.

When we do, we help the world and we help ourselves.  Acting on our best selves out in the world feeds our souls and contributes to the long and difficult task of rebuilding the inner wholeness that is the true goal of our searching hearts.

 

 

 

What’s Going On?

His Yellowness

His Yellowness

Here we are in one of the most bizarre presidential campaigns in a land marked by bizarre politics.  In many cases, the underlying reason for the periodic upheavals is race.  Yankee slavers hauled terrified captives to a strange land where they were put to work on plantations.  The plantation-owning Southern aristocracy dominated the agrarian south.  Farming in the north was mostly small family farms.  Industrial cities grew and a diverse economy grew in contrast to southern agrarianism.   

Black people were looked on as inferior and deserved their servitude.  The divided country compromised and made a black person worth 3/5th of a white in the Constitution, that standard of democracy.  The race problem became the dominant issue in the nineteenth century and remains so today.  

The split has always been marked by violence.  The tragedy of the Civil War continued after the war with Jim Crow making his mark across the country.  Some change came with the great migration of African-Americans from the rural south to the urban north.  Race turmoil came with the migration.  The civil rights era focused on the south, but the racial divide is as deep in the north as in the north.  Race violence seems to be nationwide.   

I was stationed in Alabama when I was in the Army in the early 1960s.  I was shocked by the segregation.  I was more shocked by the segregation in Chicago.  The African-Americans moved north to find opportunity.  Some found opportunity, but Jim Crow moved north with them.  Things are now changing.  We have an African-American President who made his home in Chicago.  Black people have more opportunity now than at any other time, but it is not enough.   

The divides remain.  White cops shooting blacks, blacks shooting cops.  Rioting comes in cycles, mostly when the weather is hot.  Poor people don’t have air conditioning.  Much of the hysteria around race violence is fueled by television news.  “If it bleeds, it leads”.  People watch these relatively isolated incidents and feel it is happening just down the street.  Chicago’s south side is something of an aberration; gang violence reinforced by a corrupt police department.  After all, we are talking about Cook County with its rich history of corruption and crime. 

The black neighborhoods are a different place.  Being stopped for driving while black is no joke.  It is a means of race-based repression.  The lynchings have not really stopped; the racist bully cops who are a small part of every police department have assumed the role.  No longer is it a rope, it’s a nine millimeter handgun in the hands of a rogue police officer. 

All this brings me to the Republicans.  Our national economy is changing.  Many working class people are politically conservative, wanting more stability in a changing economy that is leaving them behind.  Good paying industrial jobs are drying up.   

A good example is here in Denver.  Gates Rubber is gone, the production moved out of the country.  The former Gates factory which used to dominate South Denver is being replaced with expensive apartment complexes.  Today, the jobs are in offices and restaurants.  The office people move into the apartments, the poorly paid workers move to decaying suburbs or cram themselves into tiny apartments on Capitol Hill. 

There is one growing industry here, marijuana.  Jobs are being created and rents for warehouses for grow operations are going up.  The warehouses were built for thriving small businesses doing light manufacturing and supporting the construction industry.  The Great Recession created by our friends who run things from lower Manhattan killed many of those small businesses.  The working class lost out again. 

The white working class is angry.  Many of the jobs are gone, the opportunity for small businesses has shrunk, and immigrants seem to be taking the jobs at the bottom.  Until this year, the Republican Party has failed to capitalize on this growing disaffection.  The party’s emphasis has been to enrich the wealthy, ignore the poor, take their safety nets away, and keep the minimum wage at poverty level.  Uh, oh, here comes Mr. Trump.  It is hard to tell what he really believes, but his rhetoric has focused on returning to some past that was better for those angry people than the present.  He mocks the liberal ideals of social progress and seems to advocate a return to a dominant, imperialistic America returning to the industrial prosperity of post-World War II America when white people were firmly in control.  He also wants to remove all constraints on free-wheeling development without regard to social or environmental consequences.  More jobs. 

His own record doesn’t support his rhetoric, but the discontent he is exploiting overrules his inconsistencies.  Democrats want a well-regulated welfare state, and Republicans want to make rich people richer.  Disaffected workers are turning to a man who advocates strength, control, and more jobs by rebuilding the industrial economy that has moved to China.  No more free trade, the USA will regain former worker’s prosperity with protectionism.   

The rich will get richer, but the workers will regain what was lost in the shift to a global economy. Trump and Putin will share the spoils of the new nationalism.  Europe can muddle along, but the rest of the world is there to be shared by the U.S. and Russia. 

The voting bloc Trump tapped into was enough to get him nominated, but he will probably lose to Ms. Clinton.  Her problem is much the same as the old Republicans.   She is a reformer who has always worked for those at the margins, however working class economic problems persist.  Those problems created the Trump phenomenon, and solutions are hard to come by.  The Obamas promote college for everyone, but who is going to do the work?   There needs to be some way to build a good life for the workers.  How?  This is the twenty first century dilemma.