I’ll get right to it. One thing I know for sure, and unfortunately I know this from experience, is that racism and misogyny are devastatingly alive in this country. Sorry folks, this isn’t about Trump becoming our next President. It’s about what’s been hidden, ignored, weaponized … those whom we have victimized … what we’ve lied about; our sins of omission and commission, our hypocrisy, those who we have turned our lives and will over to pretending to buy us salvation has erupted into full out technicolor. An ugly truth, nonetheless.
I think blaming Trump supporters’ rejection of the Establishment denies the validity of their deep sense of betrayal and alienation. The blame-the-racists, sexist, zenophobic … narrative only creates another version of a very old story of the false dichotomy between good (us) and evil (them). That narrative also masks the social and political ills in America; the fear and anger displaced at oppressive systems; as well as the elitism, privilege and anger directed at those who are victimized by that system.Which is to say, ALL OF US!
But here’s the deal. Blaming engages the same kind of dehumanization and violence that lives at the core of these social ills, and it is certainly a precondition for deeper conflicts and even war. The election and post-election frenzies brought the dark underbelly of our society to light. But at the same time, I believe there is hope because something larger is growing and it appears that we are stirred up and disturbed. We don’t change when we are comfortable.
Our movement toward deeper integrity and transparency in marriage, committed relationships and within ourselves is also happening on a systemic level. Our hidden inconsistencies, hostility toward differences, dishonesty, facades, and self-deception have shown themselves and forced us into a close-examination of “What it means to be human with HUMILITY.”
Maturity and social transformation are calling us now! When hidden contradictions come to consciousness and shatter us wide open, the result is first denial and rage, followed by cognitive dissonance and the emotional collapsing of what we thought was true. Yet, illuminating these paradoxes and contradictions between what we believed was true, who we thought we were, and reality brings the possibility of real healing.
Yes, the process can be disorienting, even paralyzing for some of us. I remember talking to friends on occasion about incidents of racism, bigotry, and hatred directed at me. They would tell me, “Paula, this can’t be happening, it’s 1990!” Every time I heard those remarks, I felt dismissed, disoriented, enraged and sometimes like I was losing my mind. It was too much, so I decided to stop sharing my experiences and instead I turned my focus to understanding what might have caused my friends to deny my experiences of racism, bigotry and hatred. I also wanted to understand those we name racists, bigots and homophobes, because I knew they lived among us. I wanted to understand what confluence of circumstances, social, economic, political, religious, etc., brought them to their beliefs. This was important for me as a person and as a therapist. And because I know that when I feel hatred, prejudice and fear, it’s the result of a lack of understanding. We make what we hate, what we don’t understand or are most afraid of — a caricature of evil.
Hate is the guardian of grief. We are grieving and it’s important for us to grieve.
So what’s my point? I believe the pain, angst, and fear we are all feeling right now is fundamentally the same pain that stirs hate, prejudice, misogyny, racism, sexism, white-supremacy and homophobia.
I realize that on some level, perhaps unconsciously, some of us believe we are better than those we oppose. This is true in all relationships. We don’t always say it out loud.
But human beings are ALL a part of the same world-dominating, unconscious machine. And we all are suffering different mutations of the same wounds of separation and disconnection. We live in a civilization that has robbed nearly all of us of deep community, connection with nature, unconditional love, freedom to explore the empire of childhood, and so very much more. Perpetrators of violence also suffer from this same wound of separation and disconnection, reinforcing the acute trauma they inflict not only on others, but also on themselves. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. military and addiction is running rampant among us. And depression and anxiety are epidemic in all classes of people.
I think it’s misleading and short-sighted to divide human beings into labels and categories that classify us versus them because we are all in this together.
Something hurts inside. Disconnection hurts. Can you feel it?
I’m afraid a Hillary Clinton presidency would have preserved the status quo, but now we cannot ignore the collective dark shadow of society that has shaken us to our core.
What do we do now? It’s time to rally around our relationships, take loving care of each other and build sustainable connections with everyone, especially those with whom we don’t see eye to eye. I think it’s time to seek viable tools for self examination, accountability, consciousness, and embracing reality in such a way that no human feels left behind.
Martin Buber says, “Our relationship lives in the space between us and that space is sacred.” It’s time we cleanse the relational spaces in our relationships and heal the dangerous and toxic distortions of perceptions of one another, so we can clearly see the resources within our relationships. Because we have all contributed to what is happening in America now and really need ALL OF US to be accountable so we can change it.
We can start by thinking about how we talk to each other. The next time you post something on line, check your words to see if they smuggle in some form of hate: dehumanization, belittling, blaming …, some invitation to signify us versus them.
Then notice how it feels kind of good to do that, kind of like getting a quick fix.
Then notice what is hurting underneath, and how that doesn’t feel good, not really.
It is time for us heal. I’m available to help. Reach out!
Love in Connection & Building Bridges instead of Walls,
Paula M. Smith, M.Div., MFT
Certified IMAGO Therapist & Process Leader