If you are a progressive liberal like myself, or if your spiritual or political orientation leans toward a sense of shared humanity—chances are this inauguration is making you feel ill.
I have been devastated since the election, wondering how to metabolize the fact that a narcissistic man has seduced the masses by drawing on collective fear and hate. That map of mostly red states on election night was shocking and disturbing to behold. Is this really where we are as a nation?
The answer is yes. The United States continues to be riddled with racism, homophobia and gender inequality. We still have an “us versus them” mentality, and that goes for both sides of our two-party political system. Our collective American psyche is still young, ruled by fear and blame. We liberals attack Trump and his supporters for ruining our country, and that makes us just like them.
Trump is not creating a problem. Trump is illuminating the festering pain at the core of our nation. We need him to do this. There is no other way to heal. The immature, fear-based way we relate with one another has flown under the radar of our liberal-leaning government. Things have been just good enough that we’ve been able to avoid being confronted with our collective shadow.
It is our human instinct to avoid pain and discomfort via sedation, distraction and of course, denial. None of us want to acknowledge how divided we are as a nation, and how much we have lost our sense of shared humanity. This is our shadow—the part of us we don’t want to see.
We call ourselves liberals while we bash conservatives for bashing women and people of color. We are in denial of our shared fear. We avoid learning how this sickness pervades us all. And what we resist persists. When we deny parts of ourselves, they grow monstrous in the unattended shadows.
Trump is the light insisting that we see. This is our only chance to integrate and heal our collective fragmentation.
In any healing process, the first step is to acknowledge the problem. To find relief from pain, we must first draw the poison out. For anyone who has done personal therapy or explored the world of psychedelics, you know that although it is painful to face our demons, the only way out is through. We heal our demons by integrating them, not by attacking or running from them.
Our collective fear will keep growing until we acknowledge it. It is in saying “I see you” that we can begin the integration process.
If we can greet the ugly parts of ourselves and our nation with curiosity and willingness, we have a chance for real hope and change. If we continue to live in fear and blame others, we stay stuck.
Some of my liberal friends call Trump “The Orange One,” poking fun at his conspicuous self-tanner. But there could be something more meaningful about that title. In the ancient Hindu spiritual tradition, orange is the color associated with the second chakra. The Hindu mystics say this is where we locate ourselves as relational beings, where we experience our human connection, our range of emotional feelings, our tribe mind.
By exposing the disharmony in how we relate with one another, The Orange One may be leading us toward a collective healing of our second chakra. We can continue to see him as an all-bad thing to hate. Or we can be grateful to him for exposing these essential splinters in ourselves and our country.
I am not proposing a Pollyannaish denial of how dangerous it is to have a man at our helm who is ruled by fear. He can, and probably will, cause all kinds of trouble for our nation and the world. It doesn’t take an expert to predict social injustice, international conflict and financial instability.
These are the natural consequences of our fragmented psyches and broken political system. We have been staving off this kind of destruction by a near margin for a long time. Something rotten just under the surface is finally being exposed.
Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, which means that he is forever at the whim of his extremely fragile and volatile ego. Trump perceives any difference with others to be a threat to his superiority, and therefore his existence, and reflexively aims to annihilate anything that interrupts his inflated sense of self. It is cringe-worthy to witness.
But in some ways it is a caricature of something all Americans have in common—we feed our egos and our greed at the expense of others.
We have an opportunity now to take this shocking truth about our nation and ourselves and flip the script to reconnect with our shared humanity. We are scared of each other and don’t see one another as valuable, living, breathing human beings (#blacklivesmatter), and we’re about to experience what that creates in the world.
Whether you simply believe in the family of mankind and fragility of life on this planet, or if you go so far as acknowledging the omnipresent energy field that unifies us as one, Donald Trump as president is our opportunity to begin the long road toward a remembrance of our interconnectedness.
We’ve been able to get away with a half-assed version of love that doesn’t include those who are different from us for long enough.
Let’s take our grief and our dread today and find the ways that it unites us with others, rather than the ways that it makes us feel separate.
Let’s talk to or touch someone who we would normally ignore in our community.
Let’s take responsibility for our part in conflicts in our intimate relationships instead of reflexively blaming others.
Let’s start conversations without an agenda of someone being right and someone being wrong.
Let’s find the courage to open our hearts to everyone on this planet—Trump and his supporters most of all.
We are all in this together.
Author: Dr. Sam Rader
Image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Editor: Callie Rushton