The New York Times recently posted this three-minute video which contains a compilation of recordings from Trump rallies. (Reader be warned: this is not easy to watch.)
I made myself watch it. The Trump phenomenon is disturbing to me. I have a hard time viewing videos of the candidate, let alone his unrestrained jeering crowds. As a citizen I've never seen anything like the spectacle of Trump's triumphant and unlikely march to presidential nominee.
And as person who is committed to a decades-long avocation of spiritual growth, I needed to know if my personal beliefs could hold up to the vitriol I witness in the campaign, expressed both by the candidate and his supporters. My baseline belief is that, on the ultimate, mysterious level beyond the knowing of both scientists and theologians, we are all one. If I am "one with everything," can I be one with Trump supporters, too?
As I watched the video again, three things struck me:
1/ The strong language used by the Trump supporters, such as:
F**k Islam - on a man whose t-shirt caused him to be ejected from a rally
F**k that "n word' - about Obama
As upsetting as these are, the worst are three chants about Hillary:
Unsettling: "Hillary is a whore:
Disturbing: "Hang the bitch"
Chilling: "Kill her"
Can I relate to any to these? I have known anger, even rage. I've said the words, "I could kill her," but it's been a long time since I've uttered that phrase. The only time my father slapped me was when at age nine I shouted at my mother "I hate you." I learned an early lesson on the power of those words.
2/ The cathartic glee in the expression the young man repeating "F**k political correctness" outside a rally. He looked so happy to finally be able to say, shout actually, what he had been thinking, out in public, in the sunshine of acceptance.
As a writer and musician, I understand the delight in being able to express myself freely. It is exhilarating to speak my authentic truth, and to be heard. I know how that feels. Can I find a commonality in this man's happiness?
3/ The older gentleman at the end (2:51), who says:
"He's the last candidate to preserve law and order and to preserve the culture I grew up in."
This was the poignant moment, the one that gave me a glimpse of what may be driving support for the unfathomable choice of Trump. Perhaps supporters are yearning for a past that cannot exist again, or didn't exist at all. Perhaps the inevitability of change is just too hard to come to terms with. I've heard many spiritual teachers say: Change is hard, especially when resisted.
Can I gaze with neutrality upon these people, their reactions, their anger, their frustration, their willingness to follow, in what seems a blind fashion, someone who I consider not only mentally unstable (see these two links below for more on that) but downright dangerous to our country?
The Mind of Donald Trump (The Atlantic)
Could Donald Trump Pass a Sanity Test? (Vanity Fair)
What I'm trying to reconcile is this: if we are all one, then what I am seeing in this video is also in me, and I am looking at my shadow. I am capable of these feelings, too. If all I do is push it away and refuse to look at it, or allow it to widen the gap between Trump supporters and myself, then aren't I perpetuating the divisiveness that Trump is touting? Isn't that the same attitude that has led the human race to a history of war, rape, and violence against "the other"?
If I believe in a different future for this world, if I still carry hope for the evolution of our species to a more peaceful, harmonious coexistence, then I cannot avert my eyes.