Presidential Selection Chronicles: Fred Burks, on the Emotional Demonization of Both Clinton and Trump

In some post or other I remember saying that I personally mirror what I see as the worst quality of both Clinton and Trump: Way too controlling, and way too impulsive. Both. Yech! And yet, as Fred Burks reminds us, “every person in the world has a heart.” Even me. Even you. Hopefully, the emotional intensity of this election cycle will catapult the “body politic” into an expanded and more compassionate sensing of all that is real, both “good” and “bad.” Both the shadow and the light. Rather than choose between them, we acknowledge both as aspects of our own character. Just that, just the recogniion of those parts of ourselves we find difficult to admit to, changes everything. 



The Upcoming U.S. Election, More Than Any Other, Is Seducing Us into A Trance-like State

July 29, 2016

by Fred Burks, from a letter to his email list

Yes, both of these candidates have their serious flaws. Both have the potential to set a new course for the nation that we may or may not support. Yet does demonizing either or both of them and their followers really serve our deeper interests?

Dear friends,

Think for a moment about Donald Trump. Imagine his face, his words, his actions. What feelings does this bring up for you? What stirs inside of you at the thought of this man as the president of the United States?

Now think about Hillary Clinton. Imagine her face, her words, her actions. What feelings does this bring up for you? What stirs inside of you at the thought of this woman as the president of the United States?

Notice the intensity of feeling that these two bring up for you. Notice how your thinking and your energy changed once you did this. Take a moment to consider what just happened.

The upcoming US election, more than any other in the past, is seducing us into a trance-like state. Because the two main protagonists in this play are such intense characters, greatly loved by some and intensely hated by others, our response to them is much more emotional than rational. Most of us have a strong gut feeling which can make it very hard to talk rationally or to have the compassion or empathy towards one or both of these candidates and their followers. We have fallen into a trance.

What kind of trance is this? It is a trance that represents the last gasp of the old paradigm of “us versus them” trying to ensnare us in its grasp. It is a trance which seduces us back into black and white thinking that only serves to create more strife and division. Is this what we really want?

Over the course of recent decades and centuries, our world has gradually become more tolerant and accepting of people who are different from us. We are increasingly recognizing that even with all of our differences,every person in the world has a heart. We see also that every person has a place in their heart that just wants to love and be loved.

We see ever more clearly that we’re all doing our best to survive in this ever more complex world. Albeit with fits and starts, the people of our world are ever more embracing a new paradigm which celebrates our differences, yet at the same time focuses on inviting ever more love and meaningful connection for all of us.

Yet as we struggle to bring this supportive new paradigm to fruition, the old paradigm based on war, hatred, and competition naturally wants to assert itself, to test if we are really ready for this big shift.The old “us versus them” paradigm is bent on demonizing “them,” so that we can then wage war against them and root out the evil in our midst. It is supported by a massive hierarchical structure in which the top 1% reap massive profits from their never-ending wars and suck the benefits from the hard work of those on the lower rungs of this heartless structure.

The trance we’ve fallen into around Trump and Clinton is seducing us back into the old paradigm. Many of us have regressed to the point where we focus much of our energy on making one or both of them and their followers either wrong or right. Because we view one or both as representing the old paradigm we so want to transcend, we easily fall into the divisive trap of saying anyone but Trump! Or anyone but Clinton! The rift between these two camps is immense and the animosity between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Is this what we really want? Even if one or both of these candidates embraces old paradigm values by supporting war and divisiveness, do we as a human species really want to focus on demonizing others to make them wrong and us right? Do we really want to regress back into the old ways of ostracizing others and thus create a major divide that sets us firmly back into our old “us versus them” ways?

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? ~~  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Let’s sit for a moment with this quote. “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Applying this to Trump and Clinton, don’t each of us have at least a trace of arrogance? Aren’t each of us at times greedy for more power? Don’t we all sometimes fall out of integrity with ourselves and with those around us? Don’t we all have a shadow side that we would rather not talk about or even acknowledge?

Yes, both of these candidates have their serious flaws. Both have the potential to set a new course for the nation that we may or may not support. Yet does demonizing either or both of them and their followers really serve our deeper interests? Do we really want to create a huge divide once one of them is elected?

Can we instead find ways to build bridges with the supporters of both candidates rather than deepen the current chasm? Can we trust that no matter who is elected, we will survive, and in the long run, we will thrive as a human species if we choose to honor our differences, yet work together for the good of all.

Regarding Clinton, Trump, and their followers, how do we look without condemnation at a candidate and supporters of that candidate that view minorities as an enemy? Similarly, how do we open our hearts to candidates and supporters who perpetuate endless wars for power and profit?

And taking it a step deeper, are we willing to shine light into our own shadows in order to more consciously move through life? Are we willing to look at our own faults and focus on those as much or more as we focus on the faults of our leaders and their followers? These are questions well worth pondering if we want to fully embrace the new paradigm.

It is important to point out flaws and destructive behavior and take action to correct or at least limit these in whatever way we can. It is vital that we each do our best to invite all of us to stop damaging behaviors and embrace a kinder, gentler way of being. Yet let us do this with ourselves and with our personal relationships as much as with the candidates for both parties and their supporters.

Let us focus on building more supportive connections, especially with those close to us. Then together, we can more effectively build coalitions focused on both exposing the problems of the old paradigm and the behaviors of those supporting it, and at the same time recognizing the value and contribution of every person on our planet, including Trump, Clinton, and their followers. Even as we work to stop destructive old policies and behaviors, we can continually invite all to join in co-creating the new paradigm.

What do you choose? Do you side with the old paradigm ways which lead to ever more strife and warring between opposing sides? Or do you choose to find the common ground that allows us to all advance together towards higher goals that serve all of us?

I invite you to notice if you have fallen into this old paradigm trance. I invite you to choose to be one who is a stand for ever greater love and harmony in our world. I invite you to educate yourself about these two candidates and what they stand for, yet instead of demonizing them and their followers, focus more on what we have in common, and from that place invite changes in behavior which help to build bridges instead of widening the chasm between us.

In the end, we all want to find more love and joy in our lives. And we all have the ability to make significant changes both in our own lives and in the world around us. Let us be aware of when we slip into the old paradigm trance of “us versus them” and consciously choose to break that trance and find ways to work together to bring in a new paradigm that embraces and serves all of us in our journey through life here on Earth.

With very best wishes for a transformed world,
Fred Burks for the PEERS empowerment websites

About Ann Kreilkamp

PhD Philosophy, 1972. Rogue philosopher ever since.
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