My Thoughts about the US Elections

2016-electionsLike many of you, I was surprised with the election results, and it took me a few hours to step back and look at it from a more distant point of view. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve had that I’d like to share.

I often say that whatever is happening is not good or bad. It’s just what’s happening. Clearly some people thought that the election results were good and others thought they were bad. However, the quality of the experience was not inherent in the experience.

Good or bad is a judgment that we bring to the experience. And because there’s a part of our brain – the amygdala – that is hard wired to judge a situation as good or bad so we can detect external threats, it’s understandable why we see things as good or bad.

Another factor at play is our tendency to assume a negative outcome in the future – another protective device. Since the future hasn’t happened, it’s just something we’re making up. Like all the predictions that Hillary Clinton would win and Donald Trump would lose.

When something happens that my brain tells me is dangerous, I have trained myself to mentally step back and ask, “What are the possible long-term outcomes of this situation that I perceive as positive?”

Whatever I decide is something I’m making up based on both what I know at this moment, my habitual beliefs, and my worldview. And since every decision has an emotional component, my habitual emotional responses are at play as well.

So let’s look at what’s happening from what might be called a positive point of view.

Part of the cycles of life are death and destruction. How many times have you watched an old building blown up in order to make space for something new to be built. Often, the old must be destroyed in order for the new to emerge.

Clearly, there’s a lot that’s not working in American politics. The foundation of our experiment in democracy might be “good,” but its execution has become somewhat corrupt – some say very corrupt – for a complex variety of reasons. In order to institute a more functional system, the old has to be destroyed.

The destruction started decades ago as we started moving towards an unequal system of justice in many areas of American life. There’s a lot that’s not working for the average citizen, many of whom feel powerless within the system as it now exists. No wonder people are angry. No wonder people don’t trust “the establishment.”

President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican cohorts want to dramatically change the system. And so do many Democrats. However, views vary as to how to do it. People on both sides strongly believe that their way is the only right way.

What’s good about this election and the 18 months leading up to it, is that people are finally talking about the underlying issues that are corrupting our democracy. Even though only 55% of eligible voters actually voted, the pot has been stirred and we’re inevitably moving towards change.

What that change looks like is up to all of us – this is supposed to be a participatory democracy, and it only works if we all participate. We can’t sit back and expect our leaders to fix what’s not working for all of us. It’s clear that, because our leaders are human, they are going to act in their own self-interest,

Shouting at each other and blaming each other will only perpetrate the divide that now exists in the United States.

Most, if not all, of you who are reading this have what might be called spiritual leanings or the desire to live more “conscious” lives. Assuming this to be true, what are some of the questions that we can ask ourselves so that we can be what we perceive to be a positive force for change.

Here are some questions that I think could lead to positive change:

  • If we are all connected, all parts of the whole, what part of me is being reflected in Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Paul Ryan and our other so-called leaders?
  • What steps can I take today to move towards what I perceive to be a positive future – steps that are inclusive, kind, loving, and respectful? If I want the world to reflect those values, I have to live them.
  • What do I have to do to try to understand the other side’s point of view?
  • In order to live more peacefully within myself , what personal issues do I have to resolve that are the result of unpleasant experiences I have had in the past?

If we all find our own place of inner peace, we will live in a peaceful world.