Ten years ago, I remember giving up on keeping up with American politics. At least in the conventional sense. I stopped watching CNN, 60 Minutes, and NPR to get basis of my political updates. I scarcely read the newspapers for anything other than sports reports and movie times. The only way I could bear the burdens of staying informed about the daily news in Washington was to watch Will Ferrell on SNL impersonating George W. Bush. Or Jon Stewart embracing the suck of the current stigma by proverbially sticking a ten inch satirical dick up its ass and hoping that through some kind of laughter revolution we might change or improve, or better yet, evolve. Unfortunately, satire wasn’t the savior. At best, it only created a new camp for the elites and their followers to put them into. The classic American way of dealing with a self-created dilemma, give them 40 acres and a mule and hope that they shut up. In other words, they all got a one way ticket back to where they came from with some new found pseudo-sense of community that others felt the same way they did. This wasn’t a win or a draw but once again an escape. The elite had wiggled out of a wormhole and found themselves on the other side. The only problem was that acknowledgement was never what the people were after.
It was always about change, and it still is. Change to the American landscape and the bullheaded patriotic idiocracy that blinds us for bettering ourselves because we can’t stand feeling any sort of shame towards our past. We have compartmentalized our successes and our failures, as opposed to realizing the culmination of the both of them is what truly makes us stronger, and is who we really are. We have even tried to re-write history with our own pens and if not for the digital age of mass information we would probably continue this behavior with some success. The slaughtering of natives upon colonization, the oppression and malicious treatment of Africans forced over from their homeland, the deeply rooted realities of tension towards any foreign face, the dismissive and callous treatment of women, the consistent exploitation of the poor and the working class, the avoidance and lack of compassion towards the homeless, the persistent challenges of small businesses and working class families, corporations buying politicians, the media being sold to the highest bidder, and so much more. We haven’t owned any of this yet. Yes, some have. But we haven’t. The same “We,” that starts the greatest document in our country’s history. The “We,” that stands as the pinnacle of modern democracy and freedom. The same “We,” when at it best and brightest units us all and lifts us to live amongst the heavens of our ideals. That “We”.
There is a healing that happens in the aftermath of expression, it is both simultaneously a feeling of letting go and a feeling of integration. Both are equally as important in healing whatever it is that is being revealed or expressed. America, collectively, has only ever given credence to the prior. And this is no one person’s fault. This the culture that we have be born into, the culture that we have learned to embrace. And either unknowingly or haphazardly we have continued to deny the power of change and our abilities to emerge. Shame and regret are not feelings that we should simply let go of after we have acknowledged them. They are feelings that should help to create a new sense of “center” in each of us, feelings that should guide us closer to being more fully-realized, more wholly ourselves with less veils of our own judgments and insecurities. There is nothing more powerful than a human being embracing their mistakes and living in the light of their truth. The recovered alcoholic that mentors the lost and lonely youth, or the once homeless man that now helps to service the shelters of the city. These stories serve as an example of redemption, but before redemption one must accept and appreciate the road behind them. If change was molded only by hands that held the wisdom of their entire experience, what would the world look like?
So, what is the greatest shortcoming of the American people? It’s our inability to love the parts of ourselves that we hate. Historically, there is no denying this truth. Whether we like it or not, Donald Trump is a part of ourselves and if we disagree–great, but that isn’t enough. I’m not esoterically trying to preach the message of love. If you aren’t aware of its power, then there isn’t much for us to talk about and I wish you luck. But if are someone that believes in change, you must first embrace who you are. Spend a moment sharing something vulnerable with a stranger, take that opportunity to tell that embarrassing thing you did so someone else can learn from it. We are all each other’s teachers, and Donald Trump is truly teaching us a lot about ourselves as Americans. He is teaching us about our stifled relationship with the shameful and the uncomfortable. If you truly disagree with him, wear your mistakes with pride, your shortcomings with satisfaction, and carry your heart with humble compassion.
Someday, if enough of us live this way, the “We” will change and it will be, in part, because of you. Music always starts and ends the same way, in silence. Change is no different. It has always begun and ended with you.