By Bruce A. Smith
The Trump election seems to have cracked open fissures within society. Not only are Red and Blue States divided with some talking secession, such as California, but non-protesting liberals are angry at other liberals for marching. It seems as if everyone is angry at everyone else, at least in my life. Oddly, for the first time in my life I don’t care.
I’m tired of trying to be nice. After a life-time of holding my tongue when conservative friends, neighbors and family members spout their invectives against people I care about, I’m not doing it any more. I’m done. I don’t care if my country is divided. I don’t care if everyone is angry at me – I’m done with trying to build community. Good luck America with your new TrumpLand, USA.
I see that I’m not alone. The New York Times reported this week that the Trump election has ripped apart the bonds of family, and numerous individuals are reporting that they will not share Thanksgiving Day with family members who did not vote their way. In an article titled, “Political Divide Splits Relationships — and Thanksgiving, Too,” writers Sabrina Tavernise and Katharine Q. Seelye reveal that plenty of other people feel the same way I do. They’re my new friendship base, I suppose.
Specifically, Tavernise and Seelye report: “The election is over, but the repercussions in people’s lives may be just beginning as families across the United States contemplate uncomfortable holidays — or decide to bypass them — and relationships among friends, relatives and spouses are tested across the political divide.”
Continuing, they write: “Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, Colo., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, Wash., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding (to Italy) so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend.”
Yo, Matthew, Nancy and Ruth – give me a call!
Fortunately, my life is not a completely barren wilderness as I have found support in unexpected places. Family members whom I’ve always suspected were closet Republicans have revealed themselves to be otherwise. More well-established kindred spirits have pulled closer, too. My sister emailed me to say that she was so upset the “Day After” that she couldn’t “function.” My ex called me the “Day after the Day After,” and we were so emotional that we could only cry together on the phone and mutter, “Call ya tomorrow, if I can…”
So where do we go from here? Does America ever become one nation again? I don’t know, but here are my thoughts on the subject.
Giving Trump “a chance” is not going to work – certainly not for me and many others. Trusting in our democracy because in the past we’ve always been able to muddle through does not give me any comfort, either.
But looking back on our history – the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil War – show how really Big Troubles can unify a country. So, what might be the kinds of unifying events that could come our way?
Ol’ Mother Nature might be the most benign unifier. Global Climate Change seems to be accelerating, at least according to Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary on the subject, so we could see some real dramatic events that would compel the Trump administration to deny the denials. Could Miami go underwater? Yes. Could a Hurricane Sandy-like storm wipe out the largest naval installation in the world, the US Navy’s base in Hampton Roads, Virginia? Yes.
If saltwater starts lapping at the front door of the White House, I sure hope The Donald reverses his position on Global Climate Change.
Remember, climate change is happening across the planet, so everyone on the planet is affected. Venice, Italy is like Miami – about to go under – and is building a 1-billion Euro sea-gate at the entrance to its lagoon in an effort to forestall inundation. More troubling, most of the immigrants flooding Europe are not Syrian refugees, but rather are Africans escaping drought, starvation, and disease in sub-Saharan Africa. So the whole world is in crisis.
Project those conditions onto the United States. Prolonged droughts are the new normal from California to Atlanta, which almost ran out of drinking water a couple years back and is now choking on the smoke from hundreds of forest fires flaring throughout the Southeast. So, how secure is our food supply in the heartland in between? Could the Dusts Bowls of the 1930s reappear? If they do, what will the Trump Administration do?
Other non-climate scenarios could also shift American perspectives radically. In June 2016, dozens of governmental agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest practiced their emergency response capabilities for The Big One – a super-sized 9.0+ earthquake that would make “everything west of the I-5 toast,” according to the director of FEMA. My local Department of Emergency Management says that this kind of mega quake “is not a question of if, it’s a question of when.” The last earthquake of this magnitude was in 1699, and historically they occur once every 250 years so in 2016 we are 70 years overdue.
This kind of event taps into a larger subject, namely, exactly what is Earth? Is it a static pile of rocks and a lot of saltwater? That would seem to be the default position of the Trump Administration, but many feel that Earth is a living being. In fact, it has a name: Gaia.
Quantum Physics is showing us that everything is alive, even down to the smallest electron and proton. Dynamics like Non-Locality and Quantum Entanglement reveal that everything has “consciousness” despite the term’s not-quite scientific-sounding name. These findings are establishing a new form of science called “The New Physics,” which is the old physics with the added dimension of what role consciousness plays in the creation of physical reality. In essence, how do our thoughts and intentions influence physical reality?
Noble Laureate, Sir Roger Penrose says that if you do not include consciousness in your model of reality then it is “incomplete.”
Hence, what does Gaia think of the Trump Administration? What is Gaia’s response to global climate change? Are the increases in mega quakes over the past ten years, and their resulting tsunamis – Fukushima, Indonesia, and Chile – a wake-up call from Mother Nature?
Regardless, they are real, and another one could swamp the United States or our allies, bringing us to our knees and requiring all of us to help each other get back up.
Could another war bring us together? Here are some scenarios:
Iran and Hezbollah are wild cards. When Trump rips up the non-nuclear proliferation deal with Iran, will it then proceed to build a nuclear bomb? Probably, which means that it is plausible that Iran’s proxies, such as Hezbollah, will get a nuke or two, as well. What will they do with it? Blow up New York? Or Israel? Or both?
Certainly Israel and the United States would take steps to prevent Iran from building the bomb, such as blowing up every installation in Iran that could possible house the infrastructure, but that could trigger a response from an Arab state that already has nukes, namely Pakistan. Perhaps Trump’s dilemma will be to thwart the detonation of a Pakistani nuke in New York delivered by Hezbollah terrorists abetted by Iranian agents. Possible? Or just a good HBO movie script?
What about China? If Trump pulls the US out of trade deals and military alliances, will China fill the void? Will North Korea be a proxy state for Chinese aggression against South Korea and Japan? How fast could things go bad? Could a mushroom cloud drifting across the Pacific bring us together here in the Western Hemisphere?
Could unity come after violent strife? Could we become one nation – albeit in exhaustion – after a release of all the pent-up anger that we see glimpses of on a daily basis?
Instead of “Becoming Great Again,” could living conditions become intolerable within the United States? What if the promise of “jobs, jobs, jobs” is false?
Further, will the nationwide implementation of “Stop and Frisk,” the widespread waving of the Stars and Bars – the famous Rebel Battle Flag of the Confederacy and a favorite icon of the KKK and other white supremacist groups – and a veiled return to Jim Crow laws throughout the nation unleash a fierce counterattack from African Americans and other people of color?
Will the forced registration programs of Muslim Americans be another focal point of tension that will escalate into violence? What if dissidents are rounded up and resettled in prison camps – America’s version of the Gulags?
What if the Wall is built and the economies of the south and west plummet without plenty of cheap – but illegal – labor?
Could progressives and conservatives then stagger together and say in unison, “Never Again?”
The Formation of Two Americas
Perhaps we will have two Americas, and we can move from one to the other much like we visit Canada. Or at least we can mingle, like walking across the border to view the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
At this point, I want to live alone. I don’t want to be friends with Trump supporters, as they really have nothing to offer me and haven’t for a long time. Frankly, I feel I’ve had to endure them most of my life. To begin, I grew up in an upper-middle class neighborhood in New York that was bedrock, conservative Republican. Later, I lived through the shenanigans of Tricky Dick. I painfully remember what “W” gave to the country – unpreparedness for 9-11, $3 trillion spent in Afghanistan, and the unending debacle of Iraq. So, I think I can imagine how bad a Trump Administration could be.
On a personal level, I was afraid for my life on three occasions as a journalist. One was covering a dog-fighting ring in Graham replete with 20 Rottweilers. After the bad guys were arrested their friends lingered around, and as the cops were leaving they suggested that I go with them, too. I did.
The other two happenings occurred on the same night in the same place – a hotel in downtown Tacoma when the Pierce County Republican Party had gathered to watch Sarah Palin debate Joe Biden in the 2008 election. On two separate occasions wild-eyed women approached me. One, in a cold, icy rage demanded to see my press credentials and loudly suggested that I was some kind of saboteur. After her verbal explosion she left, and a Repub standing behind me said, “Gawd, you were lucky she decided to leave. I thought she was gonna kill you.” I nodded my head in agreement.
The second incident occurred a few minutes later at a buffet table, and the Swedish meatballs actually served as a buffer. Again, my presence as a journalist triggered her rage, but I was able to escape with only invectives voiced in my direction.
We may be moving towards becoming two kinds of people – literally. Science is showing that progressives and conservatives think differently. In fact, our brains are different.
Some research indicates that the “functional MRIs” of Democrats show more neural activity than the pix of Republicans. Coupled with this finding is some research that indicates that folks who have experienced chronic trauma have thicker, slower brains. Children from abusive families seems to have trouble learning, grasping new concepts, and being open to new social experiences. Hence, some psychologists speculate that the less-lively fMRIs of Repubs occur because conservatives have experienced more trauma in their lives, making them neurologically toughened in the battlefield of life.
I don’t have any scientific references at this time to support these kinds of statements, so these words are less compelling than I would normally offer. But it is what I’ve got pending more digging into the scientific literature. So, dear readers, please consider this article an introductory essay into the nature of what confronts us in the Trump Era.
But I do know that the people who can empathize with others have a unique set of neurons in the lateral portions of their prefrontal cortex, the so-called “Mirror Neurons.” These are neurons that fire automatically when a person observes what another being is doing. The act of watching fires our “Mirror Neurons,” sending electronic messages throughout our brain, and telling us exactly what the other person is experiencing.
Apparently the same phenomena occurs when we imagine events, such as when we envision new thoughts and experiences. We seem to actually live the imagined episodes, at least biochemically.
Some researchers agree, such as Dr. Joe Dispenza, who famously said in the “What the Bleep Do You Know” documentary on consciousness that the brain doesn’t know the difference between what it sees and what it actually experiences physically – the neurological response is the same.
I interpret this data to mean that folks with healthy mirror neurons know acutely what it is like to be a Muslim immigrant seeking refuge in the United States and then hearing Trump’s rhetoric.
Another “Bleep” alumnus, Dr. Bruce Lipton, calls the folks who are fascinated by the studies in consciousness, “Cultural Creatives,” and I think that is a proper term. My observation is that progressives are more creative than conservatives – after all the Republican Party is known as the “Party of No.”
The country’s creativity, innovation, and drive seems to be centered in the Blue States and the cities of the South. Not much seems to be happening in the rural sections of TrumpLand. Yes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were born and raised in northern Florida, but where did they go to express themselves? Los Angeles.
So, perhaps through life experiences and choices we are becoming two different kinds of beings physically: Homo sapiens progressive and Homo sapiens conservative. One is artful, expansive, and caring. The other is singular, vigilant, and possessive. One votes Democrat, the other Republican.
Perhaps we are moving to a new evolutionary point in the Grand Dance of Life. Perhaps we are moving to the Omega Point, as the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin postulated decades ago, when life is very different, when we become transcendent and beyond physical needs and the deprivations of survival-based living.
Consider this. The life we know and the planet we live upon at this time is unique to history. It’s also brand-new. Ten-thousand years ago life – and the world – were radically different. Mile-high ice sheets covered half of the planet, and animals were vastly larger than they are now. Dogs then were the size of bears now. Then something happened. We know the atmosphere changed and sulfur levels decreased, which may have altered animal physiology. Certainly the ice melted, and when that happened the oceans rose 300 feet to their current levels. The home of my youth in Long Island, NY was atop the gravel the ice sheets pushed down from the Arctic. For 10,000 years the water levels stayed constant. But then in 2012, those lands were inundated with a storm surge of 20 feet of sea water as Hurricane Sandy came ashore, courtesy of global climate change and rising sea levels and temperatures.
Historically, after the ice left, mankind was able to settle in the valleys and develop agriculture. Then cities and culture. Eventually, we formed political parties and held elections. But life as we know it today is essentially a recent phenomenon.
But is a new epochal event occurring now?
Seeking an answer, I’ve looked back a little further in history, and examined what happened 40,000-100,000 years ago when Homo sapiens developed frontal lobes, which gave us the ability to talk and form languages, act in an organized manner and develop civilizations. Our neighbors, the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, didn’t develop those lobes and they disappeared from the Earth. Why, and how, did that happen? Is anything like that happening again? Will conservatives and bad policy decisions consign them to the rubble heap of history? Will their stupid ideology on global climate change doom them, whereas us smarty-pants progressives will sense the coming storms and find safety?
Reaching further back into history, what happened 250,000 years ago when Homo erectus became more intelligent and eventually developed into Neanderthals. For a time they were very successful and populated much of Europe and Asia. Ancient texts say that the Nephalim came from the Planet Nibiru and genetically modified the primate stock of Earth and created this new version of humanity. Perhaps, but can any knowing of those facts help us now? Such discussions might be best left for late-night talk radio and proponents of Dr. Zachariah Sitchin.
So, we’re left with a dilemma. Do progressives need conservatives, and vice-versa? Or are we best left to go our own ways? Does the salt of the earth that voted for Trump need me and my fellow cultural creatives? After all, Donald Trump lives in New York City, a place where over 80% of the residents voted against him, and now protest daily outside his Tower on 5th Avenue.
More perplexing, do we need the Trumpers?
Much will be revealed to us – about ourselves – in the coming years. I trust we will find the way to survive the lessons.