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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King, Jr.
And why I like Star Wars… Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light (sabers) wielded by self-aware Jedi knights can do that.
This is a piece I published on Medium in March, 2017, written during the time that Donald Trump was (gasp!) President of the United States, a fact which still arouses cognitive dissonance in me. This is preachy, and even though I’m moving in a direction of less preachy, more touchy-feely… preachy is also my middle name, so we’ll see.
So, there was an initiative that some of my friends shared on Facebook…here’s part of it:
“On March 15th, each of us will mail Donald Trump a postcard that publicly expresses our opposition to him. And we, in vast numbers, from all corners of the world, will overwhelm the man with his unpopularity and failure. We will show the media and the politicians what standing with him — and against us — means. And most importantly, we will bury the White House post office in pink slips, all informing Donnie that he’s fired.”
“Overwhelm the man with his unpopularity and failure.” Is this really going to help? Does anyone really think that the more you hurt someone the more likely they will be to do what you want them to do? To change?
…unless what you want is to kill… There were people who felt that if they had the chance to kill Hitler, they would take it. And whether or not they were right in their thinking, or that Hitler’s death would have shut down the Third Reich, I can’t say. Certainly what did shut down the Third Reich was a whole lot of killing.
If the stated purpose of the postcard project were to have many people write Donald Trump telling him their vision for this country; what it is about this country that is already great and where it could be greater, then the format of millions of postcards coming at once might be worthwhile. But if the plan was simply to try to tear down a man who is already insecure and delusional — who will interpret reality in whatever way makes him feel safe and justified, it was wasted effort. And worse than that, it was a deflection from where we need to put our energy to create the spirit of determined hope, sanity and compassion that we need in this challenging time of cultural and spiritual evolution.
Don’t get me wrong; I could not be more disturbed than I am by the fact that Donald Trump’s antics got him a job for which he is not fit and in which his potential to cause harm is exponentially greater than it ever was when he was just having a great time being an unscrupulous businessman and a garish TV celebrity.
When I say he is unfit, I don’t mean it as an insult; I mean it as a non-alternative fact. Trump’s worldview is too limited to encompass the complexity of guiding a powerful nation in an age when a recognition of complexity and the need for sustainability are keys to survival, not just of America, but of the whole kit and caboodle.
And so far he appears to be incapable of fitting himself to this new task, as some might be able and willing to do; rather he seems to be trying to fit the task to his usual MO.
His win or lose, us or them, me first interpretation of what matters is a dark lens that obscures his ability to see complexity and sustainability, to see himself as part of an ecosystem that extends beyond national borders, to pay attention to details and to self-reflect.
There are some situations that call for out and out war; like the Third Reich trying to kill all the Jews and take over the world. The world had no choice, that I can see, but to respond with violence. Even in war, though, fighting for what is right requires intelligent strategy. They don’t call it the ‘art of war’ for nothing.
Violence is extremely effective in only one way: destruction. We can spend decades and centuries creating societies based on values of sustainability, fairness and compassion, and everything can be demolished instantly with a few well-placed nuclear weapons.
We have to live with that reality. That doesn’t get us off the hook of working towards that sustainable, caring future. And if you want to think of it as ‘war’ go ahead, because war demands sacrifice and determination, and that’s how we need to think. We have to sacrifice the immediate gratification of snarky petulant gotchas and, instead, play the long game.
We have to occupy the high ground. This does not mean a refusal to get down and dirty. It means that our definition of ‘down and dirty’ cannot be ‘any means to an end.’ It cannot be turning our backs on our own values when it seems expedient or even fun to do so. Like being pointlessly mean to Donald Trump. That’s how you go over to the dark side.
It means using our intelligence to see where we can actually have an effect. And most of all, it means facing ourselves as, let’s say, Jedi knights. I just watched one of the Star Wars movies. I love the combination of cosmic battles with interior battles. Jedi knights are trained to grapple continuously with their own interior dark side.
This is not a war against Donald Trump. He is nothing more than a boil that has come to a head (of state!) on an infection which has been festering (approximately) forever. It’s the old greed/fear power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely paradigm.
What’s going on now isn’t about left vs right, nor is it about liberal vs conservative. It’s about what values are going to win the day and the future. Will they be values born of fear, greed, and heartless myopia, or will they be values of awareness, caring and sustainability?
Grab your lightsabers, kids, and face your own demons so you don’t see them in front of you as muslims or immigrants or skanky politicians. Use everything you’ve got to leverage light where it can make a difference and remember: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
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