By Ruth Farenga, Founder and Mindfulness Teacher, Mindful Pathway
Donald Trump, as of this day the American President, has won an election based on fear, greed, individualism and prosperity of business above all else. It’s like Brexit all over again only with the world’s largest economy – what now? I hear you cry.
Those of us on the Remain and Clinton sides of the debates have lost in both cases. Our values of diversity, tolerance, respect and equality have been trumped (excuse the pun) and we await an uncertain future. One which we hope doesn’t legitimise a wave of hate crime and division in our society.
So the questions now is, how do we respond?
When the Brexit vote was announced, I was in France for Euro 2016, a competition which, despite how it was painted, was largely fun and peaceful. We danced with Albanians in the street late one night celebrating their only victory in the tournament and had photos taken with many nations together. We didn’t see one ounce of division.
The trip was dampened by Brexit, which did divide.
On the Friday morning of the announcement, I stared into my café au lait in Lyon and contemplated my lack of understanding of the result. Social media erupted as friends scored political points. I saw the division playing out. Eventually, I had to stop looking at all media – the emotion clouding my ability to do other things. For many like me, it was just too big an issue to just carry on.
Let’s breathe together again for a moment…
This time, I’m advocating a different approach. Not a passive approach, an active one. One that starts with you as an individual but aligns to a collective, not to individualistic ways.
We have come to learn much more about why people voted ‘Leave’ and why they have voted for Trump – about how people feel side-lined by the elite. Many believe that ‘the establishment’ doesn’t have the people’s interests at heart. Trump has got away with using specific language to play on these fears. He delivers simpler, no-nonsense speeches – the exact same language as that we saw during Brexit.
Brexit and Trump can leave us feeling powerless. As individuals, it can be tempting to act in the same way, to look inwards and think about the microcosm of our own world, about how our lives will suffer. Indeed, values such as independence and self-preservation have risen in society this year but we don’t have to be sucked into the same game. This individualistic culture is dominant in countries such as the USA and the UK. While countries such as Sweden (although individualistic in some ways) demonstrate many aspects of a collectivist society built on trust.
Trust is fundamental for a collective future. Belief in each other and the common good.
You may have noticed that tabloid media plays on a lack of trust – black and white journalism and happy to flip depending on what feeds the readers desire the most. Today, the Daily Mail is calling Trump a peacemaker. Playing on fear of ‘Houdini Hilary’ one day, to love of Donald Trump the next. Selling papers = easy peasy!
These are easy emotions to play on, easy headlines to make and easy papers to sell.
The campaign for diversity, trust, love, tolerance and respect is not an easy sell. But can it ripple in a more subtle way?
If you feel powerless in the face of what has happened so far in 2016, instead see if you can feel empowered to act. Your action may not be as headline-grabbing or egotistical as Farage’s or Trump’s but it can make a difference. The last thing we need is apathy from the left.
Ask yourself a question, what can you do today for the collective good?
You may like to breathe here again, to meditate on this question…
The bottom line is that if we make decisions based only on what is good for ourselves, on individualistic ways, then we will never solve the macro and global challenges that will ultimately affect us all.
Seeing our values in action will have impact on others and as we model the behaviour we would like to see in others. Living our values will also allow us to be happier, more peaceful with ourselves – allowing us less internal conflict.
So whether it be supporting campaigns such as the recent @stopfundinghate campaign, joining a
political party, offering your time to support someone or simply taking time to pause and reflect before you act.
This is a time of divisive politics – can you act for the collective good?