By Victoria Lynn Hall
“Evil is not what one expects: cruelty, moral perversion, power abuse, terror. These are its instruments or its results. But the deepest evil in the totalitarian system is precisely that which makes it work: its programmed, single-minded, monotonous efficiency…the dulling daily service, standard, boring, letter-perfect, uniform. No thought and no responsiveness…The ‘general’ and the ‘uniform’ happen in thought before they happen in the street. They happen in thought when we lose touch with our aesthetic reflexes, the heart no longer touched…So the question of evil, like the question of ugliness, refers primarily to the anesthetized heart, the heart that has no reaction to what it faces.”James Hillman (1926-2011) American psychologist
When I look back at who I was and what my life was like before the 2016 presidential election, it’s as if I’m watching someone who was half awake. I know that I wasn’t completely stagnant; I was in therapy, I was learning and developing my hobbies, achieving things in business – but my life was so disconnected from the world I lived in. My curious mind only reflected inward, questioning my own dysfunction and dissatisfaction and rarely made the connection between my own experience and that of the society I was barely aware of. In my isolation I failed to notice the isolation of others but I see them now in my mind’s eye, sleepwalking beside me.
And then Donald Trump ran for president.
What the F….seriously? My curiosity lifted its sleepy head.
No way, would he ever become president. I decided and went back to sleep.
Then he became the Republican nominee and I started paying attention, found myself entering the living room when the news was on the television, started listening to what people in my community, who had different politics than mine, were saying and I began getting nervous.
Could this really happen? Everyone in my “tribe”; the people who had similar lives and similar thoughts to mine, assured me that it couldn’t but we weren’t leaving it to chance. Vote! became our mantra. We must vote for Hillary even if she wasn’t our first choice. Vote! Vote! Vote!
And then Donald Trump became president.
How could this happen? What kind of world do we live in? These questions again awakened my curious mind and because there were no easy answers to them, it couldn’t back to its strictly inward gazing. I was no longer sleepwalking, I was on a quest for more answers, trying to make sense of a world that had seemingly gone mad while I was slumbering.
It was and still is a difficult journey but I see what a gift Donald Trump becoming president was now. It wasn’t the outcome I wanted, it was the outcome I feared and yet for all the damage he caused I can’t help but fear now what would have happened if Hillary Clinton had become president. I’m almost certain I and many others would have gone back to sleep and that is a much more damaging outcome in my opinion.
What would be equally if not more damaging, however, is to go back to sleep now that Trump is no longer in office and yet, to my disappointment, that is precisely what some people seem to be doing even though very little has actually changed.
Throughout the 2020 Democratic primary season, we heard candidates say that “Donald Trump is a symptom” and not the cause of the disease and dysfunction of our government and in our society but none of them ever really accurately named the cause. Had they done so convincingly, we probably wouldn’t have Joe Biden for president now, a man who was so instrumental in creating the circumstances that gave us Donald Trump to begin with and is already proving himself unwilling to improve those circumstances now.
Anyone who doesn’t see that has gone back to sleep, if they were ever awakened to begin with.
If a majority of us are now refusing to ask questions such as:
- Why isn’t our government providing people with monthly survival checks or expanding healthcare to make sure its citizens survive this pandemic like other countries have?
- Why is our government building new child immigrant facilities or reopening dangerous ones?
- Why did President Biden bomb Syria?
- Why is our government sanctioning other countries?
- Why is rent in many cities higher than what some people can afford working an average full time job?
- Is our government really doing enough to address our climate crisis?
- Why is our government seeking to punish and silence independent journalists and whistle blowers like Julian Assange?
Then we are squandering the gift that Donald Trump’s election and subsequent departure gave us; the gift of the knowledge of just how corrupt our entire government is; how its policies and practices serve corporations and the Military Industrial complex over the health and well being of its citizens and poor and working class people around the world; and how our solutions lie not in trusting politicians who have already proven themselves to be either corrupt or ineffectual but in coming together and speaking up for and standing in solidarity with each other.
To not react to all the injustices that continue under Biden with the same fervor that we reacted to them when they were happening under Trump is to anesthetize our hearts to the pain of others and will ultimately cost us any feeling of connection or joy. I hope more of us will choose to awaken instead, even if it is painful at first, not just for the sake of the many who are needlessly suffering but also for the sake of our very own souls.
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.