Saturday, 28 January 2017

In the Shadow of Your President

I'm struggling to come to terms with the reality of the 45th POTUS as 'leader of the free world'. It's scarier than I wish to admit. Is Western democracy really only half a step away from dictatorship?

I'm beginning to feel like Alice in Wonderland about it all. I have stepped into a room with the kind of distorted glass you find in fairgrounds that shows how you might become: horribly grotesque. 

As a community of Nation States are we not already there? 

How is Forty-five not the looking glass that magnifies who we have become? And suppose he was impeached what then? What are we left with afterwards?

Would we not continue to allow children all over the world to die from malnutrition and lack of clean drinking water; abandon them in petrifying war zones and even blow them up when they try to escape. Deny them adequate medicine at an affordable price because the bottom line matters more. 

Would we cease raping and murdering women and children with impunity; caring little about and ignoring the basic needs of those we consider 'other' or 'undeserving' whether it is someone on some far distant shore or the homeless on our own doorstep.

Would a vast swathe of humanity still struggle to subsist on what cannot be called by any stretch of the imagination a 'living wage ' covering not even bare necessities; whilst eight men own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world's population.[1] Just stop and think about that for a moment.

Would we not continue to ravage and plunder the Earth, whilst choosing to ignore the effect on health and livelihood, especially if we are not particularly affected, yet, by the menace of a changing climate? 

The list of terrifyingly grotesque stretches into eternity.

I know that the issues raised above sound like major geo-political concerns that the ordinary citizen does not have a hope of affecting, but is that really true?  If we break any one thing down to a local level, you will see the piece of the mosaic that is easily within the individual's ability to impact, even in one's own home or workplace. 

As I write that it brings to mind my involvement, over 30 years ago, with a project that sprang out of inner city disturbances. It created access for young people described at the time as 'disadvantaged' because of their background and ethnic origin. Today many of these, now successful young adults, are doing the very same thing by working with or supporting local community programmes as leaders, enablers, facilitators and mentors. They too can provide 'access' and their efforts make a dent in what might otherwise become a seething mass of resentment and anger.

The great British Brexit was a shock defeat for the Establishment and elites by a 'seething mass of resentment and anger' that was ignored for too long. Trump's triumph is in large measure due to this as well. That outcome hold some quite dire consequences for the society as a whole and specific individuals within it.

The thing that has rocked the well-to-do, taken-for-granted cosiness of our Western existence, well for some of us at least, is that Vlad the Impaler has popped up in our world and he rules.

Shadow Vampires prey on the weak and vulnerable; they breed fear and dependency; they feed on the life force of anyone unlucky enough to catch their attention.

An article in yesterday's New York Times - Why '1984' Is a 2017 Must-Read[2] recalled George Orwell's dystopian state Oceana, where the government is called Big Brother, and is always watching you. 

In Oceana citizens live in a post-truth world where whatever the ruling party holds to be true is true. As Orwell himself famously said, "The best books ... are those that tell you what you know already."!

What we already know, or at least ought to consider is that Trump is us! He seems to embody the worst of humanity’s traits visited on itself.

Jungian or archetypal psychology use the term ‘archetype’ to describe specific and universal patterns of behaviour. 

The tendency to behave in certain specific ways that we can all identify - bully, victim, princess, addict, coward etc - have little to do with the influences that shape and mould our consciousness such as family, education, culture, tradition and so on.
"High Chair Tyrant" apt description of current POTUS

Indeed our cultural forms and norms are derived from these innate blueprints of behaviour already ingrained from within the womb. I like to think of them as the DNA of personality.

These modes of behaviour have two distinct aspects – light and shadow. One is an optimistic side seeking always the highest form of self expression possible. Whilst the other is dark and murky, channelling negativity.

Apart from the Vampire, if I were asked to identify another three of Forty-five’s behavioural traits operating in the shadow (the direct opposite of light attributes) I would go for Destroyer – ‘intoxication with destructive power; destroying the dreams or potential of others’. Trickster – manipulating others through duplicity. Liberator – imposing his own tyranny over those he claims to liberate; ignoring legitimate constraints.[3]

We can all see Trump's Destroyer tendencies; I am more interested in the possibility of a Trickster and Liberator persona. They would make me hopeful. 

Did I say hopeful?

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Forty-Five is an Absurdity

I wish I had the words.

Just for a little minute I wish I was an Oxbridge or Harvard Professor of Philosophy say, and had the gift of words – elegant, succinct, penetrative but simple, along with an in-depth grasp of my subject.

I don’t. 

My issue is the contradiction, the improbability, the absurdity that is Forty-Five as President of the United States of America. I know, right. It’s happened; there's nothing I can do about it so just get on with my life. But my life is a part of the whole of life, and part of the whole is reflected back by this particular Forty-five. He reflects something of all of us. He is simply a magnifying glass and a harbinger. But we don't want to acknowledge that; we would prefer to bludgeon the messenger to death.

Something about this whole thing thrums in the deep hinterland. It has captured my attention and won’t let go. Absurdity has always demanded that I stop and take a deeper look and try to discern what stands behind what is appearing. Indeed the whole world is grappling with the absurdity that is a Trump Presidency.

Just bear with me for a minute or two while I make an ‘out of left field’ contextual connection. Its good to project a little light into the darkness.

A 'sparkling sensation' on Strictly
For those who have been following my posts recently you will have read about my, um slight obsession with Oti Mabuse, a choreographer and professional dancer of superior ability who has enchanted many people around the UK. Born into apartheid, for me she is an improbability; a mould breaker.

Partnered with probably the best celebrity dancer ever to enter the Strictly Come Dancing annual fest, and having accumulated the highest scores of the series, they did not win. Why? It didn’t make sense. Then I understood. I thought I was watching a straight up and down dance competition; I wasn’t. So much more was going on.

It is exactly the same with Donald J Trump.

We look at this billionaire businessman with zero experience of the whole Washington political scene. We see a rich, self-indulgent, misogynistic, vulgar nasty guy, with lawsuits pending who will not release his tax returns and says he is smart to avoid paying taxes. He boasts about his despicable behaviour toward women and to my mind incites racial hatred. Yet, against all expectations he simply snatches the Presidency away from all comers. 

How is that possible? Why would most of America vacate those values they purport to hold dear? Something more, apparently beyond anyone’s ability to understand, is going on. 
Trump’s whole campaign and eventual win made no sense. Yes, the CIA Director’s late intervention in the electoral process worked in his favour, undoubtedly; and it is highly likely that there was some external meddling in America’s democratic process.

On the Campaign Trail
On the other hand Hillary won three million more of the popular vote. She had money bags; her backers were more articulate and powerful than Trump’s. Many in his chosen Party (because he chose the Republicans, they didn’t chose him) publicly disowned him and voted against him. And yet he won. Trump’s win made no sense. 

The fact that Trump became President is an absurdity.  

When you encounter absurdity in life, take another look. It asks whether you have noticed that an outmoded pattern of behaviour no longer serves you. It generates momentum as a recurring experience personally or globally. It’s a constant underlying rhythm which at an inopportune time explodes into reality, shattering your complacency. Something needs to change. 

Donald J Trump is an improbability; a mould breaker. He is in fact, as Charles Prince of Wales recently described climate change, ‘the wolf at the door’. Many are in denial about the potential for devastation that his presidency represents. And, just as climate change, it is highly likely that it is our behaviour that has hastened or even necessitated his arrival. What delicious irony!

In the UK the 'something' that needed to change triggered Brexit. In my view, regardless of her stance at the time, Forty-five's newly found Maggie-May is a closet Brexiteer. Between them they will break a whole lot of moulds, as did Reagan and the Iron Lady; and many of us will feel intense pain. That is inevitable when entrenched patterns get broken. The legacy of Maggie Thatcher's reign remains today in the suffering of many who have never recovered. 

Does progress demand sacrifice? Yes, when we are offered choice options that are mutually exclusive and requires a shedding or discarding in order for a new wholeness to emerge. The problem is that kind of 'sacrifice' is painful and devastating to go through; it is often forced upon us; it is never of our choosing - except for people like Ghandi and Mandela who deliberately chose. They are rare.

Trump is the growling wolf with bared teeth standing there simply refusing to budge despite all our efforts. But what does he portend? Why is he in our lives at this time?  In my book nothing is a coincidence, nothing simply happens. There is reason and purpose to this but on the surface, to the uninitiated, it is cloaked in mystery. 

For many of us the arrival of the 45th POTUS and Britain’s Brexit have shaken the very foundations of our world, the ground on which we thought we stood. The ‘new world order’ is not yet in place and we are fretful in this angst-ridden and chaotic era. But what is really going on?

Absurdity draws our attention to something we refuse to look at or acknowledge - are in denial about - always to do with us, individually or collectively. 

You know that I am not done with this. So, I’ll be back.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Day the Feminine Roared

I cannot properly begin my day without paying respect to and acknowledging The Day the Feminine Roared. At one point I was overwhelmed with emotion as pictures of women around the world, including friends and loved ones, began to emerge – a bright and magnificent glow in the darkness – a beacon lighting the way for the whole of humanity.

Courtesy New York Times [see 1 below]

The Day Before...

Looking every inch a punch-drunk boxer in the ring, Donjon the bruiser came out of his corner literally slugging his way through a completely outrageous inaugural speech. 

Far from conciliatory and gracious words, he took out his double-barrelled shot-gun and fired at point blank range. But anyone who expected ‘conciliatory and gracious’ had learned nothing about Donjon in the last year. I understand his new moniker is Rumplethinskin. 

He proceeded to trash and chastise the four previous Presidents who had graciously attended to show respect for the age old tradition of witnessing a peaceful transition of power in an established democracy. There was a barely veiled attack on Obama policies followed by the hacking of his Affordable Healthcare Act immediately formal proceedings were over, his very first act in the Oval Office. 

He blasted the entire Washington establishment, including his own Party for extravagance and wastefulness. Donjon then turned his attention to the rest of the world in effect telling the rest of us to bog off, we were an unnecessary appendage in his global plan; America was sufficient unto itself. 

Donjon’s homeland was portrayed as a basket case, sliding off a cliff: drugs, poverty, decaying infrastructure and on it went.

Many declined to watch, others said they felt distinctly ill afterwards and wished they had not watched. In the end I decided not to turn my back entirely but to witness as much of the carnage as I could bear. 

 Tomorrow was another day, and it was.  The fight-back had begun.

channelling universal suffrage

#Women of Barcelona

The sun rose and shone on hundreds of thousands of women – but the feminine was not standing alone; she was unflinchingly supported by the masculine. 

#Women of Antartica

And a very special shout out to my besties on Boston Common, Massachussetts

From around the world every aspect of society came out to show Trump his ‘better angels’. 

Now for Action.



Friday, 20 January 2017

Donald: In the Shadow of the Deal

Here we are then, today’s the day: an inauguration, a new President.

I have an avid and longstanding interest in American politics a) because I have many friends there and a goddaughter who is just beginning to make her mark on the world; and b) because much of what happens in the USA eventually wing its way across the pond: the good, the bad and the ugly.  

horrendous black Friday weekend
The young ones here love their School Prom, and our very British Guy Fawkes night has turned into an Americanised Trick or Treating street party; then there is the truly awful Black Friday. 

With a Conservative government here, I expect much of Trump’s ‘ugly’ to wing its way over here in the next 4 years.

That much vaunted (on this side only though) Special Relationship is well and truly entrenched.

It is expected that the Don will restore Winston’s bust to its rightful place in the Oval Office. But I hope he will also find a place for Martin’s which replaced Winston during the Obama era. I doubt it though.

I imagine that as a Little Soul[1] the Don told God that he wanted to grow by personally experiencing both extreme loathing bordering on hatred and undiluted adulation bordering on love at the very same time. 

Well, God said, in that case Donald you had better become President of the United States of America. You can be next in line after Barack.

But what about Hillary asked Donald, I will never be able to beat her.  She has Bill and Hollywood. 

Oh she has much more than that Donald, replied God, trust me. But with me all things are possible, especially your growth. Leave it to me. Just prepare for Office.

Are you sure about this Donald, continued God.  Are you really, really sure? 

I am not aware that you have in any way prepared for this. I must remind you Donald to be careful what you ask for because you will get it. Said God.

All I want Donald replied is to build a wall; after all I made my billions in the business.  I also want to cut taxes, get rid of illegals, ban Muslims, create millions of jobs for my brethren in the Rust Belt, and a few other equally minor things. What could be simpler? 

Abroad during betwitching hours
 I see, said God.

Well I have Ivanka and Jared explained the Don. They will be doing a kind of job share with me because I have a short attention span and am easily bored.   

I have no interest in that strategic thing, that’s why I have my Generals.  I rely on my pet Sqawk to reach my peops.  I just want to experience Love, and Hate as well, both at the very same time.

Well, it’s your call Donald said God, on your head be it.

A Hispanic male who apparently journeyed from rabid communist to Republican made a salient point on one of those dreary ‘Trump’s America’ programmes rolled out daily by the British TV networks: right now, said Hispanic male, my man Trump has a blank ‘check’ until he does not deliver. 

How will Europe and in particular my side of the very ‘special relationship’ respond to an attack on a set of values that has defined its existence for generations?  A set of values espoused by America itself, the geo-political force that led the Western world and set the global economic agenda after the 2nd World War. 

I suspect Britannia’s response will go no further than an inward groan. And America’s Dear Leader will be invited to Buck House soon after the May Queen’s visit to the Oval Office in a few weeks. 

And so it begins.

[1]Little Soul and the Sun, a parable for children adapted from Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch