Trump and Buddhism
It’s All About Trump
And so, everyone, and I do mean everyone is talking to me about President elect Trump. White people, black people, Mexicans, LGBTQs, sexual assault survivors and of course and especially Muslims. Some people are frightened (understandably I can’t even lie or normalize and of this.) It’s pretty far out stuff. What’s next? Aliens? Are those aliens actually going to show up now? Right now, I feel like crazier things are happening. I’d probably just be like, hey aliens, what’s up?
But, believe it or not, this election maybe wasn’t about Trump. Maybe it wasn’t about Hillary Clinton, either. Maybe it was always all about us. Maybe Trump is about our own collective darkness. Maybe Hillary clinton is too. Maybe we all could use a bit Buddhist philosophy to find a way to be at peace with everything coming at us.
And it’s hard, because there are a lot of feelings, and they’re pretty intense.
Some people are angry. Some people feel betrayed. There’s a Dutch thing with safety pins, dating back to the holocaust. Yeah, we’re bringing it back, I think. (I don’t know for sure, it’s a white thing; and I don’t think they’ve worked out the kinks with it.) Shout out to the Dutch on being decent human beings. We are talking a lot about the holocaust and Hitler, lately. Smart people, economists and historians and economic historians all seem to be saying, um hmm, yeah this is exactly like Hitler’s rise to power…exactly. We are well into Hitler Part One: The Early Years Remix. That’s super depressing.
Some people are hopeful. Some people are gleeful. Some people are hateful. There are protests and riots and hate crimes and bombed churches. People are snatching hijabs off of women’s heads. Lynching black baby dolls. Scrawling swastikas on things. Things like Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, along with, apparently, a lot of dog doo.
So let’s review the reactions, the emotions, the predictions, the stories. Let’s start with whites. They’ve been feeling some kind of way for quite some time apparently. And no, they’re not all stupid, hateful, racist people. They are largely regular normal people, who happen to think Donald Trump is cool.
My plumber told me well over a year ago, You know, Donald Trump is gonna be our next president. He was giddy and gleeful and he wanted to talk about it and explain why. But, I needed no explanation. It wasn’t rocket science. I knew exactly the reasons that Donald Trump would potentially be our next president, and I knew why my plumber just thought Trump was the Bees Knees. Trump is rich and white and male. Nothing else really matters, as far as our political system is concerned. Donald Trump also seems very regular…an every man, that probably every man wants to be. My plumber was literally salivating over the prospect of a Trump presidency.
At this time, I had no real aversion to Trump…because I had this conversation in July of 2015 before Trump showed us who he really is. My views on Trump were pretty one-dimensional. He was silly and simple, a caricature: You’re fired! To me, it was as if my plumber had said, Bugs Bunny is going to be our next president. I just wasn’t ready to entertain that insanity; and the fact that I had to sort of made me afraid. So, I avoided the conversation.
Okay, so a year goes by, extraordinarily destructive forces were unleashed via the whole let Trump-be-Trump philosophy, and, regardless of whether Trump won the White House or not, we all knew that there there was going to be a trail of bodies behind him. He’s just that kind of guy. Understandably, people are feeling some kind of way about this. The people, in my circle, who seem to be the most freaked? White women. Why? I don’t know for sure, but I have some thoughts
Yesterday, I met an associate (not even a friend, just an associate) for lunch. I thought we would be discussing mutual professional interests…she wanted to discuss Trump. She was devastated. I couple of times during the conversation, she cried. I just don’t understand? Can you help me understand? I don’t feel safe. Who can I trust? What should we do? We must do something! She wanted me to assist her with some form of protest. I wasn’t all that interested really. She also told me, she had inherited some guns from her father. She’d never used them. Had never really looked at them much, but now…she was glad that she had them. I don’t know why she was so shook or who she thought she would need to use a gun against. I have to tell you, it was one of the most bizarre conversations I have ever had. And though, she didn’t come right out and ask for it, she seemed to be looking for some sort of absolution from me. Maybe I will write about it in a piece entitled, Trump, Absolution and a Prayer in C.
Let’s move onto the group of Americans I know most intimately, Trump refers to us as the blacks. Honestly, we are kinda all over the place. Some of us are pretty upset about it. Some of us are probably thrilled. My next door neighbor with whom I grew up, owns a pretty successful small business and was gaga for Trump. He insisted to me, when I expressed my concerns, Trump is not racist! Tell me one racist thing he has said! My response?
Wow. Just wow. I cannot have that conversation with you, Winston. I cannot do it.
I told my sister about his support of Trump, to which she responded,
“I always suspected Winston was simple and stupid.”
Right now, Trump is packing his administration with known white supremacists, but…that seemingly matters not. At least half of white America (and apparently 13% of Black America and 30% of Hispanic America) seems all set to go for Trump’s Fourth Reich. Quick question? Can Black people be Nazis? Let’s ask a Trump supporter. Is that like totally against the white supremacists rules? Cause what about Ben Carson, and Omarosa? I mean, I think someone like Winston, for instance, has way to much swagger to march that stiff.
I think most of us though, (the blacks, that is) feel like Dave Chapelle’s monologue on Trump, was perfect. “I didn’t know that Donald Trump was going to be president, but I suspected it. It seemed like Hillary was pulling ahead in the polls and yet, I know the whites, you guys aren’t as full of surprises as you used to be.”
That just about says it all. We know white people better than they seemingly know themselves. Many of them are sincerely wondering, oh my, oh my, is this really who we are? Are we really this racist? Yes Indeed.
Okay so Muslims. When it comes to Muslims I feel the worst. I feel like they are the new Jews in this new holocaust…and I feel like we all have to keep standing up for them, because they are constantly being painted out as monsters (of course that happens to the blacks too, but not quite in the same way. We are vilified because we have the audacity to want police officers to stop killing us. They are vilified because of well, you know ISIS.)
Yes. I know about ISIS (a group empowered/enabled by our own foreign policy). I know that ISIS rapes and kills women and cuts off heads or burns people alive.I know this.
America also has it’s extreme religious terrorists groups, like the KKK. My great grandparent’s house was burned down, circa 1910, courtesy of the Kentucky Ku Klux Klan. They escaped, narrowly, although the plan was that they, along with their seven children would be burned down with the house. What was their crime? They wanted their kids to get an education.
How did they escape? Good and decent white people who had been informed of the plan, warned them. Who were the true Christians? We clearly know which actions were truly Christlike, and those which were not.
It is not that difficult to tell a man of God from a total nutter butter, unless your brain has been subjected to endless nonstop onslaught of hateful propaganda. Like the kind that was so popular during the Third Reich…also now so popular among the alt-right. We cannot give into this, allowing it to infect our minds and our souls. We must retain our humanity.
Christianity. Judaism, Islam. It is basically all the same baby, with different booties on. These traditions do not, for example, differ from one another as drastically as say, Hinduism (with all those strange Gods, dressed so provocatively) differs from them all.
I realized this, believe it or not, by befriending a Muslim, from Morocco, many years ago. This happened prior to September 11, 2001, say some time in 2000. My friend’s name was Karima. She bought me a Christmas present. I asked her, Why? Why did you do that! You don’t even believe in Jesus! And now I feel bad because I didn’t get you one!
She told me, that Muslims did in fact believe in Jesus. (I was shocked.) She just believed that he was a prophet, and not a God, but clearly a really righteous and cool dude. So we had a deep conversation about that. We traded Bible stories, and I learned that her Muslim beliefs were not all that different from my Christian ones. But besides that, she was just extraordinarily and incredibly generous and kind. She reminded me of the best Christians. The true Christians. The ones who will put their lives on the line to tell you your house is about to be burned down by the crazy KKK, so that they can maybe save yours.
She invited me to dinner, one time, and she made a big to do about it. I was thinking, what’s the big deal, you know we’ll grab a pizza and some wine, pop in a movie, American style. But no. It was like this seven course deal, with steak and Salmon and lobster and shrimp and the best bread and rice I’ve ever had. It was a great time. We were great friends. And then September 11 happened. Things were never quite the same.
I told her. Karima, things are going to change for you, now. You have to be careful, very careful with everything that you say and everything that you do. Co-workers who were cool with her before, treated her like a pariah. Someone attempted to expose her to what they thought was anthrax. (Remember Anthrax?) It wasn’t anthrax and she didn’t die, but she was extremely freaked out. She didn’t understand. She was fairly young (early twenties) when all this happened.
She was my friend. One of the best, but slowly we went our separate ways in this world that breeds distrust. She was the one who slowly abandoned the friendship. I understood. She was afraid. She went from being totally open and trusting about everything, to looking at me distrustfully, sizing me up, as if she had concerns about me turning on her on a dime. And, probably her concerns were justified. Not because I would turn on her, but somebody would, and she had no way of knowing who.
After September 11, my mother actually told me, be careful, Amber! She might be a terrorist! I defended her. Oh mom. You sound like some old white lady. She’s not a terrorist.
But then, my mother questioned me. How much do you know about this girl, really? I felt I knew enough. I suggest you stay away from her. I thought about it. How much did I know about her. Not a whole lot really and my mother caused me to doubt her momentarily…my friend, who served me lobster and steak. I wanted to believe that I was not that person. But I was that person. And do you know why? For a moment, I was afraid. Times like this make us question deeply who we are.
And what if I had been a different sort of person? What if I thought I saw something, and I said something to the FBI or CIA. What if I told them everything I knew about her? Probably I knew enough about her that was unique enough to cause some sort of federal Gestapo to show up at her house with a search warrant. She served me a seven course meal. Who does that? If I was a simpler and silly person, I might have surmised, she might be a terrorist.
I am loudly protesting the profiling of SF Ali in Trump’s America because — it’s just wrong, but also, I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that person who distrusts neighbors, fellow citizens, and stands by and does nothing when someone is stomped into bloody bits with police boots and batons. I don’t want to be that person that ignores the fact that terrible things are happening to Muslims and Hispanics all over the country, just because I am afraid. I can’t become a Nazi…neither should you.
What about my friend? Did I do enough to look out for her, to protect her from all the hate and pain and fear thrown at her? I did my best. I am haunted by the idea that it wasn’t enough.
Anyway. I have another friend. Her name is Nietzsche (well kinda, but that’s a long story.) She is a Buddhist. Technically she is black, but if you knew her, you’d know that clearly that is incidental and not entirely relevant. She was the first person to really, seriously talk to me about Trump.
She said, “Amber, the first day, I just didn’t even want to get out of my bed.”
I was relieved. That was how I felt too. But I felt like such a coward. I was thrilled that I was not alone in my desire to just hide away from the world. But honestly, I woke up afraid.
Nietzshe meditates a lot. She has studied Buddhist philosophy extensively and when I feel like the world is going nuts, I know I can talk to Nietzshe and find a way to that Buddhist peace. Which is a really cool thing. How does it work? Well let me explain it to you, via Nietzshe.
“The world is crazy Amber. The world outside of us is going just nuts, and you can feel it in the air, in the protests, on the social media feeds.”
“And you know, at first, I was feeding into it. I posted something on Facebook, a rash reaction, but then I deleted it because I didn’t want to manifest in that space.”
“And then, I just withdrew. I withdrew from all the stories. And yet I was still left with all the emotions, but I sat with them. I just sat with them. I felt them; and I owned all that discomfort, the racism, the sexism, the dangers of sexual assault, the violence, the homophobia, the fear, the hate…I sat with it.”
I tried to wrap my head around what she said she did. I tried really hard. There was a part of me that wanted to ask her, what do you mean! You just sat with it! You don’t just sit with racism! You don’t just sit with sexism! You don’t just sit with sexual assault! You do something! You cry! You rage! You scream! You thrown a temper tantrum! You bang your fist into the wall until everything turns to bits of dust! You weep! You gnash your teeth! You attack people! You accuse them of being racist and sexist! You demand that they stop being that way! You demand that they respect you! ARGGGGGGGGGH! You internally combust!
But… I wasn’t going to do any of that. That is is not the path for me. Not anymore anyway. I am at a point in my life where I also have to sit with it. This is actually more courageous…though it may not seems so.
I know, to a lot of people, this is going to sound like ridiculous passivity or cowardice, and it would be, if I were trying to hide, or lie to myself and live in a la la land not seeing the world for what it is. But no. I am not trying to do that. I can’t precisely explain why, but I can try, via Nietzshe.
“More people like us are going to be killed, for no reason. What happened to Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, countless others. That’s not going to stop That is going to keep happening. That’s real. But I refuse to live in fear, inside my mind of that time or place.”
“Women are going to be sexually assaulted, they are going to be raped. It is happening right now, I promise you, but I refuse to live in fear, inside my mind of that time or place.”
“All this stuff going on, with the Native Americans at Standing Rock, the LBTQ community, the Muslims, the immigrants. It’s real. People will be deported and separated from their families. Muslim women will be harassed for wearing hijabs. People will be thrown off of their land that they need to live. People will be targeted and murdered in their safe spaces, clubs, where they are just trying to have a little fun. It’s real, but I refuse to live in fear, inside my mind of that time or place.”
And I responded, “You are right. Because that’s what they want. They want to make us afraid. They want us to lose our minds. They want to deprive of us of peace of mind. And no. Just no.”
And mind you, I don’t know who they is exactly. Is it the whites? Is it the blacks? Is it immigrants? Is it Muslim extremists? Is it Trump? Is it his KKK alt-right- Concerned Citizens David Duke inspired Whitehouse administration? Is it the Clintons? Is it the Taliban? Is it ISIS? Is it Putin? Is it Russian and/or Chinese Hackers? Is it Big Pharma? Is it Big Med? Is it Big Bank? Is it Black Lives Matters Protestors? The prison industrial complex? Is it sexual predators or pedaphiles? Is it the basket of deplorables? Is it the FBI? The CIA? The Illuminati? The elites? The vatican? The South American Drug cartels? The gun lobbyists who endlessly rain guns down onto a weary American populace? Is it the AI cyborgs who are going to take over all of the remaining jobs? The aliens I’m going to say what’s up to? Is it climate change? Is it the prospect of International Financial and Environmental Collapse? Is it you? Is it me? Does it matter?
No. I am not afraid. Just like Nietzshe said, all that stuff is real (Maybe, I don’t know about the illuminati or the aliens, but the rest of it? Pretty real.)
I refuse. I refuse to live in fear, inside my mind, of that time or place. We are witnessing the birth of a new world, and the collapse of an old one. And no matter what’s on the horizon, I challenge all of my partners, in democracy and humanity - not to be afraid.