I am guilty of being a liberal, coastal, elitist. Living in my California bubble of progressive values while eating lots of kale, and, thanks to proposition 64, I can now add juicing raw cannabis to my health regime with legal impunity. I have the privilege of living a blessed life with very little suffering day-to-day. I received a wake-up call when I saw the results of the 2016 American election. I see the outcome as a symptom of tremendous pain and disillusionment. Donald Trump being the President-elect of the United States could not have happened without people having very little or nothing to loose. This is a a cry for help — A call for love and understanding to address the hurt and find practical ways to reduce suffering in people’s lives.
I am not condoning racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. I see these as the by-product of fear. They are not qualities that reflect our true nature as human beings. Each of us, at our core, no matter what our ego identifies with, is a loving being. Our true nature is love. We do not always act or live up to our true nature, but that does not mean it is not there. It is when we get lost in our pain and suffering and attribute it to outside circumstances that we get further and further from experiencing the truth of who we are. I watched Russell Brand’s video on the Trump Presidency, and this is the quote that stood out to me:
It [Change] is not going to take place on the superficial administrative level of Washington or Westminster politics. It is going to take place philosophically and deeply.
I think Brand is highlighting the same thing that One Solution is pointing to. Change comes from a shift in consciousness individually and collectively. It comes from a transformation in understanding. With greater understanding comes the capacity to open our hearts and see each other as human. With compassion, we recognize our sameness is greater than any difference of opinion. When we see our oneness, we act accordingly, in ways that honor humanity. It is going to be individuals coming together, who are connected to their true, loving nature, who will uplift society. We cannot wait for politicians to do this.
The message sent by over sixty million Americans is loud and clear. People want change. Many of those people are suffering. I don’t think a Trump presidency will solve their suffering. Why? Because Trump is still looking at the world through an outside-in perspective. He sees the problem out there needing to be fixed.
My understanding, however, is that suffering is not the result of our circumstances. We feel our thinking. When we understand that our suffering comes from our thinking, we no longer need to look outside of ourselves for scapegoats to blame or rescuers to save us. We see that even in the direst of circumstances we can have psychological freedom. Not so we can simply accept and endure a desperate or challenging situation, but so we can come up with solutions from a place of clarity and peace. We are empowered, and we have choice no matter what our circumstances are. Victor Frankl is one of the most profound examples of this. He was a German, Jewish psychiatrist who wrote about his experience in Nazi concentrations camps in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He states:
We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
The capacity to experience innate wellbeing independent of circumstances has also been demonstrated in the inner city housing development of Modello, in Florida. Here, Roger Mills implemented a three-year project that resulted in dramatic transformation of a poor, crime ridden community. This change was accomplished by sharing the teachings of Sydney Banks with the people so they could recognize they each have a state of wellbeing within them no matter what challenges they were confronting.
Once this was glimpsed, positive changes occurred in the lives of community members and created a ripple effect. The results of this community transformation are described in Jack Pransky’s book, Modello: A Story of Hope for the Inner City and Beyond. The teachings of Sydney Banks, called the Three Principles, are not an opium for the masses to help people tolerate their suffering. Rather, they are an empowering understanding that highlights the natural resiliency and capacity for change and transformation that exists within us all.
When we see that our suffering is a reflection of our thinking and not our circumstances, it frees us up from resisting and fighting with the smoke and mirrors of our illusory thinking, so we can instead connect with the infinite, creative potential that lies inside of each one of us. It is from this place that solutions arise. New thinking comes forward that allows us to make sustainable change. It is when we look within that we can hear the wisdom of our heart so it may reveal the way forward. Nothing is more powerful than the power of love.
We have a choice now. We can choose to listen to the wisdom of our heart. We can recognize that our circumstances, even the circumstance of who is the President of the United States, do not determine our experience moment to moment.
I just found out that Gandhi did not say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”; however, he did say:
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.
He points us inward to a deep philosophical or spiritual transformation that is available to each one of us. Be the change of greater love and understanding. Bring this to yourself, your family, and your community. I am not saying accept racism, sexism, violence, and xenophobia. I am saying combat them with the love and understanding that is in your heart. Be guided by compassion. Hatred, judgment, and anger only add to the sum total of suffering on this planet.
We all agree it is time for change. We all know we can do better. Be the change-maker in your world independent of whether or not you are in favor of the President-elect. The power lies in you and the daily choices you make. Look at how you want to make a difference and bring more love and understanding into the world. Listen to the wisdom of your heart that comes with a good feeling, and do your best to ignore the rant of your ego that comes with the feeling of stress and insecurity.
Let love lead and bring light into darkness. We are all in the process of waking up. None of us are perfect, and all of us are love.
My soul honors your soul.
I honor the place in you where
the entire universe resides.
I honor the light, love, truth,
beauty and peace within you,
because it is also within me.
In sharing these things
we are united, we are the same,
WE ARE ONE.
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. She helps individuals, couples, and professionals to connect more fully with their true nature so they can experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. Rohini also co-facilitates three-day relationship retreats for couples with her husband, Angus Ross. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.