Donald Trump, Cameron Burgess

Namaste Donald Trump

In Politics, Social Development and Justice by Cameron Burgess4 Comments

Donald Trump is neither a hero, nor a villain. His election presents the perfect opportunity to practice compassion, and self-awareness, and to bow before the divine spark that animates us all.

There have been many words written about the election of Donald Trump over the past month, and no doubt there will be many, many more. And while those words inevitably swing between elation and despair, such responses are far too easy. The harder, more essential response, is to practise compassion, and find out who is elated, and who is despairing, and why.

Compassion requires the willingness to feel another so deeply in ourselves that we no longer know where they begin and we end. Compassion is not selective, it is universal. Without it, we continue to experience ‘the other’ as somehow being separate, as being ‘not us’.

And this is the core of our dysfunction.

We are so used to projecting our empathy and our compassion beyond our own boundaries, and especially toward those who have suffered through economic and social marginalisation. We feel socially bound, it seems, to experience compassion for those who have traditionally been on the fringes, while failing to recognise that, in many ways, the edge has moved from where it once was.

We have failed to appreciate that the colour of one’s skin, the nation of one’s birth, and the extent of one’s privilege may be correlated, but cannot always be considered to be causative.

All people suffer. All people. So if we, in our relative privilege, are at times plagued by rage, fear and grief, is it not possible, perhaps even more so, that others with substantially less privilege are as well?

The election of Donald Trump is not the only instance in recent times where we have seen the rise of the extreme right. In The UK we have seen Brexit, and in Australia, the forces of neo-liberalism have helped to normalise domestic and foreign policies that have had disastrous consequences for many, not all of them people of colour. How else do we explain the election of Pauline Hanson to the Senate?

What I’ve been investigating of late is the failure of the left, of progressives, of those devoted to social and economic justice. How did we so wilfully ignore our responsibility to each other that we presumed that all those who are white are somehow free of the suffering that comes with poverty, with the disrespect of their sacred institutions, with the collapse of their industry, and the abandonment of their working class, mostly rural communities by their young? ‘White’ and ‘privilege’ do not always belong in the same sentence, regardless of what privilege may be automatically inferred on the basis of colour.

I am the poster child of privilege, and I know that I am not living the same experience as an unemployed white shop machinist with three kids, and a mortgage, in a rust-belt town that has been abandoned by industry in favour of cheaper off-shore labor. And while it’s true that the negative consequences for people of colour in almost every country in the world are significantly higher, that doesn’t eliminate the suffering of others. It can’t.

The problem that I see that we liberal, progressive people have is that we are righteous. And in our righteousness, in our patent unwillingness to shut up and listen, we have missed one of the single greatest opportunities available to us to practise compassion – to turn to our angry neighbours, those people with whom we share buses, lunch queues and workplaces, and offer them our support.

We rail against them, even as they make themselves heard through the democratic mechanisms that were created for precisely this purpose.

Trump is not a cancer. Trump is symptomatic of the rot at the core of our experience – the idea that there is a separation between us, and that we get to be selective in how we see ourselves in the other. Either we are all one, or we are not. We don’t get to have it both ways. We just don’t.

This moment does not demand anything of us. No moment ever does. This moment invites us to the possibility of a deeper seeing, it invites us to the possibility of knowing ourselves more fully, it invites us to the possibility of a deep, deep compassion for the suffering that so often motivates unconscious and harmful behaviours. It invites us to remember the innocence of all peoples, and to recognise that if we want peace, then it begins within.

The invitation in this moment is to feel all there is to feel, and to simply let it be here, to offer the fullness of our humanity to each other, and to graciously accept the humanity of others, regardless of whether or not we’re repulsed by the face that it wears.

Donald Trump is a wave, as are his supporters. They will surge, and crest, and crash, and wash away, as all waves do. Yet we are the ocean, and they live within us. We are nothing without each other.

This moment is an invitation to pause, breathe, and be grateful for the opportunity to know ourselves and each other, and to love ourselves and each other, more deeply than we ever have before.

I invite us to abandon our cities, and our privileged grief, and load up our hybrid cars, and art-cars and kombis, and drive deep into the belly of our nation, and start a conversation or two. Greet every stranger with a silent namaste and bow before the Life that animates them. Ask them what they fear. Ask them what they need. Ask them what they love.

“… if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed. For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride?”Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

About the Author

Cameron Burgess

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Cameron Burgess is an Australian-born, international speaker, writer, and facilitator who has devoted more than twenty years to focusing, amplifying and accelerating the essential work of world-positive people and projects. Cameron is the creator of Make Shift Happen, founder of Uncompromise, co-founder of WellnessConnect, Icologi, and Marketing Ninja, board member of Hitnet, and embedded technology strategist with Sphaera. Cameron is currently based in San Francisco.

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  1. Donald and Pauline are examples of the people we need right now. Enough of political figures allowing things to happen in a country that is not for the benefit of it’s people – trade deals that send money and jobs overseas, billions of dollars spent on unnecessary ‘defence’ items, and letting people into the country who do not value our country’s values or contribute towards society. Pauline and Trump are looking out for its people, making sure businesses stay in our country, money is wisely spent and the people of the country who believe in it’s values are looked after and supported. If a country can look after itself, it can at the same time support other countries and their people in a way that helps them help themselves (rather than spreading a problem into another country and create havoc). In leaders that support this then it encourages people to make themselves self-sufficient, compassionare, aware beings who are happy in themselves and willing to help others; look after yourself first to then be able to help others.

    Trump and Pauline are leaders who are looking to place a focus on improving their own country and the lives of their own people to then be able to support othef countries effectively. We need to look at the big picture & be patient for the right people to lead and make the necessary changes. A big transition is happening and all people’s fear, anger and blame are being triggered – people need to take that inward and look at why this is a trigger for them, rather than outward and label people.

    Namaste to those leaders to inspire its people and country for a better world

    1. Author

      Hi Shona,
      Thanks for your thoughtful response. It’s tempting for me to respond through the lens of world affairs, especially given that, as a global citizen, activist and business advisor, I don’t agree with your assessment of the motives of either Trump or Hanson. I agree that they are doing what they think is right to strengthen their nation, but I disagree that they are viewing this as a necessary precondition to helping others (given that their policies, in some instances, directly harm the wellbeing of existing residents and citizens of their countries).

      The purpose of this article is to underscore the myth of the ‘other’, and to suggest that wherever we see that which we respond to as in some way separate to us, we are missing the opportunity to practice compassion and self-awareness. In the realm of politics I see this all too often – the abdication of responsibility by building up or tearing down a leader, rather than responding to them as some highly valued, or deeply abhorred, aspect of our selves.

      I am diametrically opposed to most of the policies I have seen proposed by either Trump or Hanson, and question that they are either compassionate or self-aware. But any assessment I may make of their character, and their motivation, says little about them, and a lot about me. As it always does, for all people.

      The idea that there is an ‘other’ – another person, another country, another culture – is the same thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. Judaism, Islam and Christianity, for instance, are all rooted in the worship of the same god, yet they are focused on what makes them different, rather than on what makes them the same. As humans, we are all, fundamentally the same, and value, fundamentally, the same things. Yet as long as we continue to believe and behave as if we don’t all spring from the same source, we are doomed to continue persecuting ourselves and each other in all that we mistakenly believe separates us. I have spent time in the Middle East, and Israel, and in dozens of other Christian and secular countries alike. In much of Israel, Muslims, Jews and Christians live and work peacefully alongside each other, unconcerned by what appears to separate them. If they can do it there, in one of the most fiercely contested nations in the world, where political and religious ideology has long been incendiary, why is it so difficult for us to do the same, no matter our beliefs, throughout the rest of the world?

      The purpose of any spiritual practice is, I believe, to bring us closer to god, no matter what that means for you. And in so doing, I suspect, we begin to experience a more profound awareness of the divine in all things. It doesn’t surprise me, therefore, that those with a clear, coherent, and consistent practice find themselves approaching their neighbours as brothers and sisters under the same sky. As I have said to a number of my friends and clients, and myself as well, whenever there is the arising of a pathological aversion to the ‘other’, it’s time to go back to the mat and truly question: ‘where do they end and I begin?’

      Note, I am not religious, but offer the above observation because so much of the disruption we are seeing in the world today is rooted in cultural/religious belief.

  2. This is not a point and laugh moment. Rural Queensland is the founding home of One Nation, and here lies the same broken promises to the ‘salt of the earth’. We have fallen for the constructed reality of life at the top of the tower, when in actuality we’re all as tied to the land as our First Peoples are.

    1. Author

      Hi Geoff – thanks for responding. I agree – this isn’t a point and laugh moment. The seeds of a Trump presidency are already germinating here in Australia. We have some very real issues that require addressing, including a more thoughtful long-view on the social and economic consequences of decades of neo-liberal foreign and domestic policies. Pauline Hanson’s point of view is not that of a lone crazy in the wilderness, but is a voice, as uninformed and unintelligent as it may be, for the unaddressed grievances of a large number of people, many of whom are white, rural, and poor. If we want to ensure that we don’t head down the road that the US is on, we need to start paying attention to what they’re saying, and find ways to include everyone in the conversation about how to create a more equitable society.

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