So I’m reading about Elizabeth Warren and how she shouldn’t be underestimated. She’s as tough as nails, really, and to prove it there are quotes of her demolishing the one and only Donald Trump. He is small, she has said, and obviously there is more where that comes from.
So the competition is starting, but we know it had already started before the beginning of 2019. I think of Hillary Clinton’s gaffe in 2016 when she called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables”. I was sitting in Italy on my computer reading the news—the American news that would be—and I stood up, so much was my disbelief. I said out loud, “This is cuckoo and so bad. She is talking about people she wants to vote for her.”
It might seem silly to worry about tone of politicians in our country that is so used to polarization. And at the same time I feel that if we don’t find ways to know each other better as human beings, we will continue to demonize—not only people of different colors and continents, but also our neighbors at home. Not that the demonization of people who seem strange and/or exotic is okay. It is just that we may be oblivious to the price we pay in general for demonization of anyone at all.
We may have gotten used to the politics of violence and exploitation so that we limit our focus early on to watching where the major Super Pacs will put their money. And oh yes, where will Russia be situated? Since that too has become something so many seem unconcerned about, that a foreign state should influence our elections.
I know, I know. Politics has always been dirty and you should have seen it back in the day, or the day before that. But the point may be that we need to evolve, to grow up, to grow beyond dirty fighting and winning based on tricking the public and humiliating the opponent.
I have recently thought a great deal about the war in Yemen, about America supporting and initiating much of the genocide going on there, and it being all too easy to detach from the toll of actual lives and in terms of our own humanity. At a time when there is so much danger to the physical climate and so much famine, war, inequality in our world, how can we expect to take any of it seriously when we are drawn against each other into the fray, feeding off of sheer adrenalin?
Psychology is but one tool that is terribly underused here. What I mean to say is that there are plenty of people who know how to use our proclivity to fear and distrust against us, to seduce us into warring against each other. And all the while, there is little mainstream attention to what forces are at play within us, forces that make us susceptible to hatred, to blame and to detachment.
When we are not in touch with our deepest emotions, we unconsciously relegate them into the nether land of the shadows. They can hurt us all the more the less we know about them. They can cause us to project onto others the hate and blame for what we in fact harbor inside. They, hidden from light, cannot be integrated; they cannot morph into the signals for anxiety and worry that are real warning signs of danger. As such we do not see the predator at times also because we are ignorant about the predator and predator potential inside of us. We do not know this part of us so we cannot spot it on the outside.
I have the notion that part of our job as people is to grow up the best we can. This would mean we don’t settle for the worst of human potential, but that we try to get to know the deepest parts of ourselves enough so we can formulate genuine discipline that is based on awareness and not on terror.
Cooperation, in anything close to a democracy, is obligatory and not merely an elective subject. Cooperation in a world that demands giving a damn is something we need to learn in order to survive constructively, with the capacity to care either intact or in the midst of growing.
For now I don’t want a President in my own country that can douse all the other candidates with gasoline and light a match to them. I want the candidate who has the integrity to get beneath the divisions between us and set up dialogue that is based on real understanding of the stories we all have that describe how we got to our present lot, politics and values in life. I want psychologists and people who have some awareness and who care, to help us figure out more about the power of knowing ourselves, so that we are not seduced by tyrants on either side.
And then I want a President who is a leader. And that would mean a President who can challenge and guide the public into decision-making and collaboration based on curiosity, learning and empathy. It would also mean a President who cares more about our well-being than about his/her own agenda—his/her own power.
I know, it’s asking a lot. But then again: why not?