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01 December 2016

Coming to Terms with the Election of Donald J. Trump: Native versus Refugee

One of the most googled words of 2016: XENOPHOBIA--intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries--In my understanding, native versus refugee: A powerful dynamic playing out on endless fronts all over the world and especially in the United States.

The native or local exists in a structure that promises certain guarantees by virtue of his or her native status and the rights that go along with those implied privileges: borders, language, culture; clear claims to ancestry; a way of life including a future; employment; security; prospects for one's progeny to have a a better life. 

The refugee by definition is fleeing forces that make all the attributed rights and privileges of the native impossible: war, persecution, terrorism, environmental collapse. 

The native sees the refugee (if at all) looking through a thick, cloudy pane, the type found in showers and baths so as to obscure vision. 

The refugee is other; a threat; a challenge to the illusion of the local that things have always been this way and they should remain this way without disruption. 

The refugee is foreign, strange, dirty, beaten down--seeking shelter, clothing, relief, calories, purpose, hope, future. 

How do we resolve this conflict when the native refuses to see him or herself in the refugee? Build bigger walls? Demonize the refugee? Defend the homeland?

This issue has certainly been a huge underlying force in recent elections, such as Brexit in the UK and Trump's victory in the United States. That Trump seized upon the issue from early on in his campaign underscores how energizing that one thread of meaning within his speeches and interviews really turned out to be, especially in the light that most pundits and journalists predicted opposite results than what we've actually experienced.

I sense a similar feeling as captivated the United States in 2000-2001 with the election of George W. Bush and the subsequent events of 9-11 in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. The country feels downcast, colorless, tired faces moving slowly, going about one's daily chores. I don't feel much if any vibrancy or positivity. It's a dark time but hopefully also an opportunity.

One thing I remember well about the days of September 2001 and immediately following was this amazing feeling of unity and of possibilities for real evolution and progressive change. 

The upside of crisis being an opportunity, but we needed (and need) grounding, spiritual and ethical awareness, humanitarian and democratic values. We need(ed) a constant revival of compassion and interconnectedness. Now more than even during that time, I feel old structures dissolving before our eyes as both political parties seemingly self-destructed. Remember, the Republican party establishment completely disowned and disavowed Trump for weeks leading up to the election. 

One caveat is that Trump should in no way be taken as a majority or mandate when considering over 40% of registered voters did not vote. But, again, the biggest issue in this campaign is the dynamic refugee versus native creates--one is "safe" the other needs "safety" 

Can I help someone else without losing what I've got? 

These issues will only be more important as continuous revolutions both political and environmental occur. But we might do well to expand the analogy. In place of native, interchange: white,northern, western, healthy, able-bodied, fully-functioning, wealthy, powerful, right gender assigned at birth, those following the dominant religion, people for whom the laws are protective instead of punitive; you see where I'm going with this? These times call for some caution; we don't want everything to blow up.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair.


So in the UK and USA, voters decided to overturn the entire system. That's a big deal.

Regarding Trump, I see his biggest danger his natural proclivity for compartmentalizing, mostly a male, left-brain, yang exercise; allowing for separating of what should be interconnected aspects of life and believing the artificial construct is reality. 

Compartmentalizing can have disastrous and destructively explosive results; think of a man with two families kept separately from one another--he loves both wives and sets of children, just not at the same time and never together--what happens when they find out about one another? 

Trump also seems far more concerned with outcomes than process; this is a heroic concept: win or lose, no gray areas; yet heroics are capable of great harm.

His strength might be his pragmatism; not holding too closely to any one idea or concept. He doesn't seem to believe in anything and has the ability to put aside any past experiences in favor of the current project or deal that captures his mind. 

Interesting times and opportunities for all of us to raise our consciousness and do more good. Help someone. That's all. 

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