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  • Writer's pictureZenho Chad Bennett

The Drama of Electing Trump

I do not know a single person who voted for Donald Trump and this fact informs me in so many ways. It revealed to me, without any filters, that the bubble I live in as a middle class, values driven, “helping professional” has protected me from seeing the reality of half our nation’s citizens. I knew this intellectually but the bubble simply popped, the voices were heard. I feel naked and raw and guilty and actually a touch excited by a new information highway emerging through our collective shock. And I‘m taking a hard look at my own responsibility where my post modern values have, in their own right, become a form of oppression.

Have a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What we know about human development, both collective and individual, is governed by a hierarchy of increasingly complex needs; only after lower more fundamental needs are met can increasingly more conscious and actualization needs be attained. And we notice the pyramidal shape is elegant because, in fact, when foundational needs are not met, higher needs become shaky and topple over. The pyramid also reminds us that fewer individuals have the opportunity to self actualize compared to those who are grappling with survival issues.

Thus we have collectively elected President Trump. A good half of Americans struggling at the needs level of safety and security or making ends meet for their families may well interpret the values system of liberalism as “pie in the sky” if not oppressive in their own right. Just imagine the survival level of your own consciousness being threatened everyday and then carrying the added burden of being seen as “conservative, selfish, and insenstitive”. In times and circumstances of stress people operate at lower levels in the pyramid, are not at all sensitive to others, and our higher values will never “trump” lower needs in the hierarchy. Just like the polls demonstrated, we missed this important truth.

I woke up at 5:30am and cried with my wife. I sat on my meditation cushion and got really curious asking, “What is my response, what is really happening?” First, I rode waves of shock as if we’d survived an earthquake. And the first reaction to this discomfort I noticed was the strong habit-potential to view myself into a victim. I understand this pattern well enough to see it is driven by fear. It is interesting to notice when we have entered the "drama triangle which was originally posited in the psychological theory of Transactional Analysis- if we unconsciously choose to be a victim, we will simultaneously notice a perpetrator arises and we will seek a rescuer.

It is painful but liberating to notice that if we do not take responsibility for our fear- which is in itself simply a contracted form of clear alertness and excitement- we will enter the drama triangle from which a great deal of reactive suffering will be generated. We then often respond by projecting our victim- after all who wants to feel that- and deny responsibility, both individual and collective, for what has happened. The humorous irony here is that our unconscious collective agreement to enter the "drama triangle" got Trump elected! By 6:00am I was chuckling.

And from here, even Trump can be seen as a fellow human being… well, ok… almost! I’m working on it.

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