Discovering Donald Trump—The Gift of Extremism – The fear is palpable, the anger unimaginable. When Timothy McVeigh murdered nearly 170 people and wounded another 600, the public was outraged but gradually slid into a zone of thinking he was “just one of those crazy people.” Life went on. Following the unimaginable attack on the World Trade Center, we went to war in the wrong country, led by a government created story floated on fear. Horror greeted Sandy Hook and the subsequent massacres of Americans by Americans, but little arose from the great ocean of outrage—a few websites, a few attempts to pass sensible gun legislation, a suggestion that white crime was always created by those who were mentally ill. Then, there was nothing major, until the fearful massacres in Paris and the California attack by a radicalized young Muslim couple with a small child who deliberately killed colleagues of the husband.
In response, Donald Trump, leading contender for the Republican nomination for president, stepped up to show his leadership skills. He branded all Muslims as evil and demanded they be barred from our country. For those of us who lived through Hitler and McCarthy, our bodies recognized the words of a rabble rouser, at least—a dangerous dictator at worst. We were once again caught up in the fear and drama, but this time something was different. It is, plain and simple, an attempt to rally his followers and the fearful by stereotyping over a billion people! The fact that there are nearly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims in this world requires that we learn to live in peace.
Where is the gift in the arising of Donald Trump and his grotesque views? I believe that we have been lulled into numbness by the number of atrocities and their violence. It’s as if we live in a large reality television war, and our feelings are deadened. When someone comes out of business America, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of disasters speaking hate and far-out rhetoric, we are awakened like Sleeping Beauty with a noxious kiss. People of good will suddenly forget their politics and ask “How did we come to this?” We are hearing hate speech daily, couched in language that we have become used to, but Donald Trump got our attention and we noticed that the Genie was out of the bottle. We tolerated a lot in the name of “free speech” but suddenly it had gone way too far. His fellow candidates began to distance themselves. Therein lays the gift—we may be turning back before it’s too late.
Christianity, the religion claimed by most who chant anti-Muslim rhetoric, arrived in a time and place where brother was pitted against brother. Jesus came at just the right time, into an area where the four major groups in the Jewish Religion all presented a different face to the Jewish people. One of these groups was the Zealots, a militant Jewish group who wanted freedom for their homeland. Instead of a Donald Trump-like messiah appearing, Jesus showed up with a message of charity and love. He taught that love is the primary motivation for Christians. Instead of all the “thou shalt nots”, Jesus preached “thou shalt” in the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes helped provide peace in the midst of horror on this Earth. “Blessed are the Merciful”, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God”, and “Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meek didn’t mean weak. It means kind with a gentle spirit, even in the midst of adversity. So what’s a person of faith to do when confronted with the ravings of Donald Trump? Knowing that Muslims have been in the country for years, served in our military, in our hospitals, in our law enforcement, what are we to do?
First of all, we must remember what it means, really means, to be human and spiritual. We need to pay attention to what emotions come up in our energetic body when we hear this hate speech. If we get excited and riled up and agree that we are us vs them, we need to pay attention to what side of us this comes from. Is it our heart or our hate? Is it our love or our fear of the other? Going to our heart’s energy and creating prayer for those who were hurt or lost family members, whether it’s in Paris or San Bernardino, will bring peace to our bodies and our energies. Those who thrive on the energy of anger look bigger in this time. But those who are of big spirit know that good and compassion are energies that can overcome words used to simply rally troops to the valley of hate. Whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jew or any other form of spiritual being, we can model to our children that good will always overcome evil, and hate will only diminish the angels of our better selves. The Dali Lama’s words bear repeating:
Our world and our lives have become increasingly interdependent, so when our neighbor is harmed, it affects us too. Therefore, we have to abandon outdated notions of “them” and “us” and think of our world much more in terms of a great “US”, a greater human family.
We hear of a mosque burned to the ground in Canada, and a Jewish congregation sharing their space with those who were burned out. Thank you, Donald, for reminding us who we are by showing us who we cannot be. That is a great gift.
By Author Therèse Tappouni
Facebook Pages: Therese Tappouni and The Gifts of Grief