Why this probably isn’t the end of the world as we know it.
If you are getting the news, hanging out on Facebook, or just having conversations about current events you’ve probably noticed that the tone has changed dramatically. Depending on one’s point of view, people seem to be elated, panicked or have gone into hiding as a result of the 2016 US elections. There is a lot of shouting going on.
Protests in the US went on for days after the election. Many of my friends on Facebook are predicting dire consequences of a Trump Presidency. Media from around the world has been alternately between blaming Clinton campaign strategy, the FBI director, third party candidates for this election result and engaging in hand-wringing or panic-based predictions.
As I’ve been in Berlin for a little while, I caught the cover of Der Spiegel, Germany’s weekly news magazine with the title:
“The End of the World as We Know it” from R.E.M.’s famous song.
(Transparency alert: I would never have voted for Donald Trump and have been an ardent Hillary support, but I’m Canadian and British, so it is irrelevant.)
BTW for a completely different explanation of the result,
check out my niece Jessica Rose’s piece posted on the Berkeley School of Law Blog.
I think we all need to chill out and accept the result of the US election. Why? Because it is just possible that this is not actually the end of the world as we know it.
These events have been going on right when I am in the middle of
putting myself through Byron Katie’s self-inquiry process.
And if there is one thing I am learning about from this psychological cleansing process,
it’s that whatever is happening,
IS the current reality and that
we make ourselves miserable by thinking
about what should have happened instead,
bemoaning the lamentable current state of affairs,
and whining about how we want it to be – but it isn’t.
These are hard lessons to learn. Many people really believe that this result shouldn’t have happened. Maybe they are right – but it’s irrelevant. It did happen.
Here are some of Byron Katie’s inquiry questions
that force us to face reality as it is,
instead of suffering because of our thoughts and beliefs about it.
So if you’ve been thinking as I did:
“This is a terrible outcome for planet earth in general and the good American people specifically,”
Byron Katie would ask: “How do you react when you have that thought?”
I feel worried, anxious, and stressed out about all the terrible things that could result from a Trump presidency – naturally.
Then she would ask: “Who would you be without this thought?”
I would be more relaxed and able to see all the positive events that are happening in the world to make it a better place, and not only the events that I believe are depressing.
I’d be able to remember great things that are happening such as:
– advances in our understandings of how people function and what they need to be fulfilled,
– people who have been isolated from the world, getting access to broad band internet, enabling them to connect, earn a living and more fully participate,
– women more fully taking leadership roles in key corporate and government positions,
– greater awareness of how our habits affect the environment and what we can do about it
– being able to keep in touch with people I love all over the world, whenever I want.
Once I got to this place – one of being able to see what else of a more positive nature is going on in the world – I suddenly realized that when I was participating in the growing awfulizing, I was completely denigrating the capacity of people to be creative, resilient and forward-thinking.
Now that I think about it, this planet has more potential than problems. Every time one of us makes a real connection with another, we improve something. When we communicate online to many, we have the possibility of making a positive difference.
As the late Canadian politician Jack Layton said in his last letter to Canadians:
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.”
We can do this!
Thanks Shelly. You are in the same copmpany as Bill McGibbons of 360.0rg. “Trump’s just an obstacle that we have to find way around.” and Civil rights activist Van Jones: “We have to build an army of love to overcome Trump’s army of hate”
Gaving a Canadian tell me it is not so bad just doesn’t help. Candians just passed some powerful environmental laws. We’re about to wipe out decades of progress in civil liberties, environmental legislation, and global relationships. I thinking “singing in the rain” sounds delightful, but hardly an adequate response.
I think this is the end of the world as we know it…I think the election of Barack Obama was the end of the world as we knew it, I think Brexit was the end of the world as we knew it…every change, every “movement” is the end of the world as we know it…nothing is static…existence is a process…the “movement” that elected Donald Trump did not manifest itself on election night…it had/has been in process for years…it manifested in a powerful, overt way on election night but did not start there…same with Brexit, same with the eleciton of Obama in 2008.
So, what then is this “world as we know it”…what do/did we “know”…did we “know” that millions of people in the U.S. were angry, frustrated, feeling betrayed by their government and wanting to take some sort of visceral action…or did we just “know” this post-election day…perhaps we are confusing “knowing” with “being comfortable” or “thinking the world is predictable” and upsetting ourselves when we find that it isn’t…
The pendulum of the U.S. society (a large portion of it) has just swung from very left to very right…it’s a pendulum swing…the fulcrum hasn’t moved…just the pendulum…didn’t see it coming? OK…so is that about “what’s happening” or is that about “you”…and your comfort level with changes you don’t see coming? and is that a pattern in your life…
Whether you agree or disagree with Trump’s ‘stated’ policies (the ones he’s actually stated…aside from the vague rhetoric)…or are somewhere in-between…what he enacts is “out there”…your emotional reactions are “in there’ i.e. inside your mind…which, of course, you have control of…so as you express the outrage! catastrophisizing! denigration! shock! horror! of Donald Trump…ask yourself…how could it be…that this is me…I’m seeing…
Shelle, thanks as always for your wisdom and insight and for sharing it with others.
Let us, though, not mistake acceptance with complacency. This upheaval, both here in America and abroad, needs our diligence and our vigilance. While love seeks light, hatred and bigotry seek darkness. At this time, more than any other, we must be constantly watchful and shed a consistent, unwavering spotlight on injustice and oppression in action, deed, and voice. It may not be the end of the world, but these movements could set us back decades and without ongoing oversight, this could easily cause irreparable harm to us, to the planet, and to those we love.
Events are neutral; it’s how we interpret them that matters. Donald Trump is no more able to control events as anyone else. Is change always good and if so how? Look how it has galvanised activists, certainly on environmental matters. No man is an island. It’s how we respond to his election.
Layton was wise and authentic. But he wouldn’t have minced words about the bigotry, misogyny, racism and homophobia either. And you know the coolest thing? Even his political enemies would respect him. Thank God I live in a country where we can disagree with policy but still respect the person. Please, let’s not let this uncivil ear spread to Canada.
Thanks Shelle. It’s interesting to see just how persuasively and exclusively emotional reasoning has been used on so many. Would a person of integrity do that, I wonder?Thanks for introducing the much needed balance of objectivity, rationality and reality.
thank you for the reframing ! We have to keep in mind that a single man, even when surrounded by a bunch of ultra-conservative people, cannot change radically the world. Only extra-ordinary (but rare !) people like Gandhi, Dalaï-Lama, Mother Teresa, abbé Pierre and many others like them could do that, because their beliefs and values aim to improve the life of every human being on earth…
I particularly liked the first comment about the people of the Rust Belt.
We have to believe in the best from the human beings.
Georges (NLP M.-P. & Trainer, France)
Thank you Shelle.
As ever, an insightful and powerful comment that helps us in moving forward with more resourcefullness.
Big thanks Shelle, inspirational as always. I think this approach has been one of the things that has driven my life and actions to better and better places and outcomes, making sure I never stagnate or stand still, but seek out and create. There’s a link, I feel. However, it’s not always easy to explain this to people who run on the opposite view and this has been a challenge for me. I understand that it can seem to many people like an ‘ostrich’ mentality, the worst interpretation of positive thinking: ‘Don’t worry be happy’. However, in my experience it’s the opposite: it drives you to action. Without hope, optimism & acting with love in your heart, you sit around and wallow, feeling powerless. Knowledge and know how might be the (solar driven, clean energy) car, but without the juice it will not run. Hope is the juice, love sweetens the ride. 🙂
Thanks for the great article.
Where I grew up is now the Rust Belt. Where I live now is a small rural community where people wave to each other when they pass on the road. They do their best to pay their bills on time, they don’t abandon their wives, they don’t ask for handouts, but they’re quick to lend a helping hand if you need one. And they keep their word.
No one I knew growing up, and no one I know now behaves like Donald Trump or the people he is surrounding himself with. Many of the people who supported him have more ethics, morals and common decency than Mr. Trump himself has ever displayed.
However, the first page in the dictator’s handbook is to keep the people divided. That is definitely how Donald Trump got elected. So far he has done nothing to bring us together. Maybe he will, but we can’t wait for that to happen.
We must put aside the nastiness of this election, reach out to the other side, reach across the aisle, and bring ourselves together.
We can all agree that we must safeguard our first amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press.
And we can all agree that we do not want big money, Republican or Democrat, domestic or foreign, to be running our elections for us. And so we must work diligently to overturn citizens United.
We can all agree that we want good jobs, and a country that guarantees a good future for our children and grandchildren.
So perhaps together we can do our part to begin to bring about unity. And perhaps together we can keep our eye on Washington to see if Mr. Trump puts his money where his mouth is.
Love it! Thank you for the reminder and the inspiration. Love and light x
The Sky is Falling ….The Sky is Falling…. Chicken Little all over again. Most of the old, wise proverbs and metaphors are still around because they are repeatably applicable. The testimony above is a modern interpretation and very specific, also very wise. Bravo Shelley, for your help in restoring some sanity to an ever increasingly complex and confusing world.
I also, would not have voted for the man.
Hi Shelle. I’m with you on this. This is the present reality, and we need to deal with what is in front of us, not with ideas of what we would like it to be. Of course, if you have ideas of what it should be, and the drive, courage, strength, wisdom and other resources, then get on and create a new, better present. Failing that, get on and do the best in the circumstances for yourself, your family, and all those you can affect by your efforts. Dreams are great if you are going to work for them, not just have them.
Words cannot describe the power of positive thoughts, and how we need to look past the negative, and we need to get past the pain to get to the meaty good stuff at the centre! I couldn’t agree more!
Sorry, I mean Byron K’s process 🙂 Guess I have my wires crossed today!
Great article and so true. I am so tired of all the backs and forth of the blame-game. Not worth that the hot air that is being expelled about it. Time to get into gear and move forward. Reality is how we choose to make it.
Thrilled for you about going through Katie B.s process. I have also gone through her questions which really give perspective. Being accountable to yourself and figuring out what perspectives help, and what do not are key to moving forward in our own lives and in the lives of others.
Thank you Shelle!
Hi Shelley, this is a very good and “wise” comment.
I wished more people were thinking “rationally” like you do.
I would not have voted for Do or Hi myself, however in Germany (and also in Austria) we have a special situation “on top”: The large media, like “Spiegel” and especially ARD/ZDF (TV) ( (state-owned monolpolists financed through forced payments) are so much “driven by the left” that any “non-compliant” political figure has to be “crushed right from the beginning”. (Remember Wulff, Guttenberg, etc., remember a couple of years ago the “sanctions” that the two crooks Schröder and Fischer staged with their socialist buddies over Europe against Austria, when for the first time in decades a non-Socialist government was elected by “the ignorant, facist Austrian People”.) Maybe you followed the “US Election Night” staged by ARD/ZDF where even very tolerant friends of mine either switched off or had to go to the toilet. Their only objective is “poisoning the Ponds” (“Brunnen vergiften”) right from the start so they create enough ammunition for the time to come. Wait what is going to be “thrown” at Angela Merkel, when the 2017 election campaign will start.
Thanks for the reality check Shelle.
A true example of whether you think you can or think you can’t.
Thank you Shelle!
Yes indeed. Energy goes where attention flows, and some noisy distractions shifted our focus.
There’s a purpose for the changes we desire. May we all re-turn toward that – both inside and out.
I think the situation is far worse than this. Trump is a drop in the ocean. We have Bexit, ISIS, world overcrowding and hunger, earthquakes and Tsunamis, people fleeing Syria and neoliberalism at work across Europe. We need more than love, hope and optimism which are passive processes, we need action to change the world. Every person needs to create and carry out small acts so the world changes for the better.
Of course we can do it. I only hope Trump is strong enough to actually clean up some of the cess pool of Washington DC. We have a bloated government that is willing to give a pass to someone just because of their position and name. They are throwing rules at us that make little or no sense.
I don’t think Trump is nearly as bad as the press worked to define him. I pray I’m right and time will tell.