The recent election has me asking a lot of questions. Mostly “why?” and “how?” The main answer I have is “because of fear.” I look at the world right now and I see a lot of people who are afraid on both sides of the issue. Fear is a great motivator, but it can motivate many of the wrong actions. I try to look at people who are afraid with a sense of compassion even though to me one person’s FEAR can be False Evidence Appearing Real, to them it’s extremely palpable.
A man is afraid he’s going to lose his job to an illegal immigrant.
A soldier is afraid of dying at the hands of a Muslim.
A woman is afraid of getting assaulted on the streets.
A black man is afraid of getting shot by the police.
A child is afraid of getting bullied at school.
A police officer is afraid of getting killed on the job.
A young couple is afraid of not having healthcare for their new baby.
An old man is afraid of losing his social security benefits.
A gay couple is afraid of losing their right to marry.
A religious person is afraid of living in a Godless country.
A young woman is afraid that she’ll lose the right to choose.
An old man is afraid a young woman is going to kill her unborn baby.
A woman is afraid of doing the same work as a man but getting a fraction of the pay.
A Muslim is afraid of being assaulted in the streets.
A Jew is afraid of the return of concentration camps.
A Mexican is afraid of a wall.
A millionaire is afraid of losing her money.
A poor person is afraid of losing everything.
A soldier is afraid there won’t be any wars to go fight.
A military wife is afraid there are going to be lot more wars for her husband to go fight.
A parent is afraid that his child will grow up in an unsafe world.
These fears are real to people and what all of us are doing is dismissing other people’s fears as stupid and unreasonable. Unfortunately that strategy doesn’t work. Neither does rational argument. Fear spurs us into action, but the problem is that sometimes that action is irrational. Our reaction to fear is based on survival when our lives are threatened. In those instances, we run or we fight and fight hard. We lash out with everything we got because to not do so (to our reptilian brains) would mean death. However, is the case of voting our fears (for the vast majority of people) are not imminent, they are fears of a possible outcome that has not come to fruition. In the literal sense of the word, they are imaginary fears. Thus we lash out with everything we have at the enemy even though, in the present, that enemy is not doing any immediate harm to us.
How this manifested is that, in this election unlike others, much of the back and forth between the candidates was ad hominem attacks and which carried over to the voters. Campaign attack ads are the norm now, but this particular election cut deeper on many levels on both sides. It went beyond the usual “your economic plan sucks and you’re not trustworthy” rhetoric to “you’re a rapist” and “you’re a murderer” which like toothpaste is hard to put back in once you let it out. The usual rhetoric casts the other side as merely unfit for the job. The current state of politics is that now when you look at the screen you don’t merely see two candidates for a job, you see the objects of your fears. Instead of “vote for me because I’m the best” the tone of this years election was “that person is what you fear most in the world do NOT vote for them.”
It do not think it is even remotely possible for anybody that followed the campaigns to look at the opposing candidate and not see a monster because that is what we have conditioned the population to for the last year. Now we have a country doesn’t merely dislike the other side but is in actual fear. Do I have to spell out how dangerous and troublesome this is?
Is there any way to break the fear loop? We need to get into action. Action is what breaks the fear loop. However, like I said we must be careful that the actions we take are not more divisive. We need goal action results. You need a short term goal to get you moving out of danger, e.g. get to the car and lock the doors. We need to move toward safety. Once we get to a safe place we can make more rational decisions, but until then keep moving.
I recommend getting back into your routine that brings you peace of mind. I meditate and workout and spend time with my family. Now that I feel that things are good here I can think about how to create the world that I want without having to rely on the government. I can support organizations and charities that might be in trouble in the next four years. I can spread love and joy to my immediate circle and choose to be better to people that are worse off than me. I can do my best to be understanding of the emotions people are feeling, all people, the winners and the losers. I love this country and the people in it. I believe in the Constitution and in democracy and believe this experiment is working overall. I think the electoral college needs to be done away with. I believe we need a pissed off populace that will fight for change in this country but we can’t keep pulling in different directions all the time. We need to stop living in fear and spread some love around and heal wounds instead of lashing out.
“Love is all you need.” The Beatles