This election yesterday which will bring Donald Trump to the Presidency of my country in January has taught me so much, not just about my country but about myself. This is because I now pay attention much better, not only to what happens “out there” in my world but what happens “in here” in my subjective experience. No longer do I have the luxury of merely coasting by on my convenient set of preconceptions.
The American people have clearly voted for a more conservative direction in our country, politically and culturally. Their insistence on a return to conservative values was so emphatic that they were even willing to vote for a candidate that most of them did not like, many of whom even found it embarrassing to vote for him. And I feel passionately that a conservative presence in any culture is needed; but it is sad that the Republican Party could not come up with a candidate who represented their values and didn’t bring Trump’s unsavory qualities to the table.
Furthermore, this election was an affirmation about a certain way of looking at the world, a worldview with very certain and rigid boundaries best illustrated with Trump’s brazen declaration to “build a wall” to keep out the Mexicans and even to make Mexico pay for it. This “building of walls” is a metaphor for the whole emphasis of the Trumpian message to “Make American Great Again,” meaning to turn back the clock to the time when boundaries were very definite and “everybody” knew their place. Yes, “Negroes”, women, homosexuals, foreigners of all stripes, and all expressions of diversity were frowned upon or persecuted.
When the basic assumptions that formulate the template through which we view the world are threatened, it is a very human response to want to revert to what has worked in the past to diminish or eliminate this threat. This is true on an individual and a collective level. But sometimes this need for the security of the “tried and true” of yesteryear can become too great and we will succumb to the temptation of making, “for ourselves a life safer than we can bear.” (W. H. Auden) Life is inherently dynamic and with the dynamic flow of this spiritual process there is always some risk involved. Without willingness to take risks, to change, we have retreated to a sterile and moribund world which leaves us bereft of spirit, existing only as the walking dead.