Constructively Confronting Systemic Toxicity: The Trump Administration, The Cultural Environment, and the Road Forward.
The Trump Administration appears on the horizon, and Real fear for the present and future sets in. Suddenly, the wolf emerges from under its sheepskin. Nothing could be clearer, the steps we take in these moments will echo into time immemorial. Never has a population lived at such an important impasse between matters of culture, economy, government, race, and environment. How rapidly humans are impacting the environment has far out-stripped the environment’s ability to support us, let alone the rest of the ecosystem and its countless other inhabitants – and then there’s this. Media lied to us. Politicians lied to us. Polls lied to us. They made us forget what it was like to live with a Wolf when we had our cool, suave, friendly POTUS who actually signed deals for Wall Street, lied to the Sioux about how important their sovereignty was, and sent flying killer robots to kill poor brown kids in their beds. We forgot those “unattractive” things because we wanted to believe in the idea that our problems could be fixed with a magic wand. Well, it can’t. Sorry, we have to do it ourselves.
Many of us who care about building an inclusive and healthy civilization that empowers humanity to fix the problems in culture and at-large in the environment are outright afraid right now, not to mention disillusioned, baffled, and carefully weighing the steps ahead. If the road forward for ecologists, innovators, scientists and creators wasn’t difficult before, it will definitely be more-so now. What we have to remember, what we have to adhere to, is the powerful force of truth, that history will remember these moments and record the participants of this period of humanity with great interest, regardless of the outcome. Win or lose this or that struggle for overall ecological justice and human freedom, we must adhere to the principle that society must keep advancing in a holistic understanding and actual practice that honors its relationship to itself and all living systems, or it is doomed by its own hand.
First, let me get a couple things clear about the election of Donald Trump. DT is nothing new, just the loudest, latest, freshest face that we’ve put on what amounts to a toxic overall culture in the United States of America. We are shocked and dismayed that there was a subcurrent in this particular country, and global culture, that would produce such a pungently foul fruiting-body of ideas in this form, but if you are surprised you haven’t been paying close attention to this culture. You haven’t tuned into Family Guy or South Park lately to appreciate the cynical, sarcastic, corporate-manipulated thought spectrum that the plugged-in media culture has created in terms of peoples’ words, attitudes and feelings toward themselves, each other, and the government. You may not fully appreciate the apathy, selfishness, greed, racism, sexism (which goes both ways, btw) that modern television subtly creates and reinforces in the human paradigm. If you are reading this and understanding, you may not actually be one of the people whose worldview consists of mainstream media sources, not to mention an adult animated show or given sitcom. You, like me, may not watch TV.
At the risk of sounding defeatist or anti-system, you’re called now to truly witness the meticulously-guided stagecraft that the American political system has become. Donald Trump is not a random rogue out of right-field that came in like a thief in the night, he’s a “Reality TV” showboat with the Listerine-whitened appeal of Pat Sajak and the shady con-man developer skills of Al Capone, and a mouth that is speaking exactly what the particular part of the American demographic that he wants to have hear it wants to hear. In a sense, he hasn’t been elected President so much as inherited the toxic culture that the stage-show of the Presidential Race and actual Presidency represents. He’s ridden the wave of apathy, defeatism, subtle racism and sexism, anti-environment, anti-government,anti-globalization and other populist sentiments that he and people like him have engendered in the culture at large. The irony is that it’s mostly super-rich billionaire-class white evangelist social programmers like him that create much of the anger at the global state of affairs. Social “philanthropists” in the billionaire elite class on both sides of the Political spectrum have been cultivating this anger like a wild rose, allowing it to build out of control until the time was right to unleash it on each other, instead of on the toxic system that needs constructive innovation. The old phrase is, divide and conquer. If toxic cultural anger is a wild rose, for those who pay their private jet bills on our fears and other emotions, now it’s harvest time.
What alleged liberals and environmentalists have to realize is that our side was doing it to, they were just better at masking it. The pendulum swings back and forth every 8 years or so, long enough for your brain and body to forget what it was like being in the “lesser half” of the population that loses out to a worldview that doesn’t fit yours.
There are a few central points I wanted to lay out here, as take-aways from this moment and points moving forward from here.
- Trump Voters are not your enemy. Trump himself is not even directly your enemy. He will do and say many horrible things in this timeframe, many of which may not be un-done or un-said for years or even decades. But the true enemy is anger which blinds you from the humanity of others who have been basically duped, as well as the clear overarching goal of changing policy at all levels toward a truly just and inclusive economy and government, and a healthy ecosystem.
- Focusing on a thing or person will only give them or it power. Why do you think Google sponsored the Republican convention? Trump will probably end up being the most searched word of 2016, that’s why. It’s unprecedented and ironic how technology brings this new-age concept of the “law of attraction” full circle – the Internet cannot tell the difference between someone who is curious about what’s going on with a despicable figure or if you’re a supporter. What matters is the numbers. In this way, dictators and demagogues have always played the masses – the searchable Internet has just taken this to a fine degree.
- Learn and put into practice ways to feed, heal, teach, light, heat and house yourselves. Never has the time been more critical to opt out of the systems which have been failing us and take our actual power back from companies and governments which have sold us a false and toxic bill of goods. There are countless ways to meet your needs, and raise your families and organizations the way you want to, and not have to compromise your integrity.
- Don’t assume that you’re right, or that you have the upper hand. It’s lack of understanding that’s gotten us into this mess – deeming some reactionary ideas as heretical and not to be discussed has marginalized and suppressed a portion of the population, however wrong they might actually be is irrelevant. When you marginalize anybody, they will eventually strike back – even if it might take awhile and you don’t hear from them while they’re lying low. Calling people with different opinions racist, sexist or greedy idiots is not an effective means of communicating your philosophy.
- Voting, protesting and even boycotting are only a handful of ways to change things. I may not get many nods, and may even get flamed for saying this, but aside from the obvious flaws with the voting system (mainly, most of the respresentatives don’t represent us), protesting tends to distance those who most need to be heard from the audience that most needs to hear them. Unfortunately, it gets to this desperate point because there has been such a lack of meaningful productive action by the policy-makers in our bureaucracies that it must result in a protest. Not that protests, boycotts, and voting are not important – but if we continue to act like these are the only means we have to change the system, we will fail. We must actively work in creating new organizations, innovating new solutions that replace the old and toxic ones, and putting our money, time and effort where our mouths are – otherwise the politicians and political moments that come up will not represent us, and will only marginalize the opposing camps more.
- Social media will not save the world. It’s actually rapidly marginalizing us, and creating real discussions impossible – sometimes, even, between friends. It should be called anti-social media, perhaps, because it limits and even stops the exposure we have to differing opinions, and the fence-sitters whose opinions, even if they might not have one yet, fully matter. Without the laboratory of real face-to-face group discussion with others who might not share your world-view, the debate can’t happen, discussion can’t resolve things, and we won’t move forward. Ironically, and perhaps by design, the engine that was handed to us as a way to work out our problems and connect more to others has served to split the Human world into opposing hemispheres of thought which are currently not talking to each other nicely. This leads to a binary war of wills cast in cultural terms, AKA what we’re witnessing now. The revolution won’t happen on Facebook.
- Abolish the presidency. Abolish Congress. Replace the Federal Government with a Digital Democratic Consensus Platform. This is f#$%ing ridiculous. The world spent $8.6 billion dollars on this election, to get a result only 26% of people wanted – and most of them were duped in ways they don’t even know yet. (Even less approve of Congress.) This is because it’s absolutely absurd to pin the hopes, dreams and practical nuts-and-bolts matters of 100% of a population on one person. Those of us who paid attention in social studies know that the government is made of far more than one person, but apparently media is unaware because they, and the people they manipulate, act like there’s almost nothing else going on. The Presidential election gets most of the focus and the money, generally dictates how people will vote down-ticket. Most people are unaware of even their Federal congressional representatives’ names, let alone those for State or Local levels of government. We should legally elect a fair, free, independently and UN-monitored open democratic system that takes a mass opinion poll on the issues at hand, then applies the actual will of the people in whatever way best fits the intention of the Initiative and can be effectively enacted by the agencies who will actually be making the changes.
- Keep doing exactly what you’re doing now,if it’s a step in the right direction. We all need you, we all need us, more than ever. The real, practical hacks and innovations that actually change how people do things are what build ideas into organizations, businesses and movements that really change the bottom line. If you have an idea that will make waste a resource or replace a toxic supply line, do it and push it to the ends of the Earth. If a million people did this with their ideas at once, competition would be replaced by compersion (the opposite of jealousy), and we might have a thriving organic culture of knowledge and countless ideas to change the world, not just a small handful that may or may not be stopped.
- Microbial Resistance is the key to systemic change. It’s time to start thinking like an antibody, bacteria, virus or fungus. It’s time, if it wasn’t already, at looking deeply at the systemic toxins that are mentally and actually embedded in our bodies and culture. Direct confrontation in one or two places, which marginalize and put you in the limelight of a violent struggle, may not be as effective as systemically changing culture where you are, with random acts of kindness and understanding. To get not just our country but our culture back, we must make roads to approaching the alleged “enemy” with respect and an attempt to speak their language.
- We must make all attempts to heal a toxic culture at ground level. Calmly stand up for yourself and your beliefs in a non-toxic way when you encounter hateful statements and anti-environmental sentiments. Don’t give into hating against those who hate. Recognize and remember the truth that love is instinctual, hate is a learned behavior. There are those who we have not been paying attention to who have lent intellectual strength to the idea that bigotry is endemic to humanity, in other words it’s human nature to hate – and this has given strength to the surge of alt-right fanaticism that has birthed the new president-elect and Republican house and senate. To hate these people back is ironically fueling their philosophy. We are not a nation of internet trolls, we are intelligent humans capable of calm and reasoned discussion even with those who we really don’t agree with, and we are better than this.
- We must maintain Internet freedom and neutrality. The ability for free media to reach the people must not be compromised. Websites like this could be slowed down or stopped in their tracks by Internet Fast-Lane policies or Facebook censorship, not to mention DNS interference. If you don’t know what I’m talking about right now, copy and paste the last sentence into Google and see what you come up with, because these are things everyone needs to know about.
- Thanksgiving table discussion with toxic relatives is important. It’s still true that the kitchen is one of the great the laboratories of democracy. Even if it’s difficult to get through to some people, what matters is how we behave when confronted with differing opinions. Remember that in democracies it’s not the opinions of extremists on each side of an argument that matter so much as the fence-sitters watching who haven’t formed an opinion yet. If you think you’ve made your point but you were acting like an ass in the process, you didn’t actually win the argument – not to the people who were watching and gauging your behavior over your talking points as the clearest indicator of righteousness. As frustrating as it is, human beings get more assurance from body language than from verbal information. Ironically, this means that you might have to act calm and reasonable even if you’re frustrated and bent out of shape.
- Make no mistake, this will be a fascist government. But make no more, it was already. The corporatists have infiltrated the government from both sides, keenly playing the hearts and minds of those living through the nightmare on this side of the tracks. There were many things that were established in the Bush and even in Clinton administrations that were aggressive, anti-environment, anti-free-speech, anti-immigrant and downright draconian. This did not change during the Obama administration, despite a sweetly-comforting and friendly voice and face that appeared otherwise. Part of the stage-show is the illusion of choice, that electing one or the other of two representatives of an extractive corporate colonialism will somehow change the lives of us all for the better.
- We never could have begged an Oil Economy and its representative Oligarchy to change itself. We have to do that for it. Big money interests for the oil economy have infiltrated every high office and candidate – even alleged “Green” candidates. The only way we will get out of this is taking the initiative to build and invest in alternatives. But more than that, building on the de-growth, upcycling and un-shopping viral anti-movements (to the degree which you can do so and survive) is essential to literally starve the Corporates of their control over the actual particles of our lives.
- When the Man’s got you down, become a better man (or woman). Powerlessness is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but more-so if you believe that you are somehow lesser than your oppressor. If you react aggressively, you’ve fallen into their trap to marginalize you and your opinions. If you calmly speak truth to power, you might get through and avoid entrapment in your own philosophy.
- When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Bootstrap. Inspire yourself with great goals as a way of getting better at life in general, striving for and working your cottage industry and right livelihood. Learn those skills you wanted to learn and apply them. We need you.
- Beat them at their own game. Prove through metrics and actual results that businesses and organizations that take the high road fare better. Prove that people can go green in their own lives and save money. Prove that the alternative works.
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY, but also participate in and prepare for a better present and future for all of us. Build your army while licking your wounds. The war isn’t over.