Monday, November 7, 2016

The Responsibility of Power

Along with power and leadership comes a sacred responsibility to be impeccable with one's word. According to Don Miguel Ruiz, to be impeccable with your word means to:

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. 
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself 
or to gossip about others. 
Use the power of your word 
in the direction of truth and love.

This morning I pulled the Sage card from the Dreams of Gaia Tarot:
Like a blend of the Hermit and the Magician, author and artist, Ravynne Phelan, describes the Sage as a wise man who searches for new knowledge, reflects upon the past, and then imparts his wisdom to others through eloquent speech.

The shadow side of this card may be seen in those who distort reality and disseminate false information to support their own agendas, or who simply engage in rhetoric or impart advice and guidance based on faulty knowledge. (In either case it is almost irrelevant whether or not the guide is well-intentioned or not, because in either case damage can result.)

Power can be a dangerous thing if that sacred responsibility is not solemnly accepted and tended.

As I sat drinking my morning coffee today, the eve of the conclusion of our wild ride of a U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump was shown addressing attendees at a campaign event. Though Hillary Clinton has been officially cleared of wrongdoing by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (for the second time in a matter of months), he nevertheless chose to cast ominous doubt over the affair, implying that the FBI did not conduct a thorough investigation, and that they perhaps had bowed to some sort of clandestine pressure from the Clintons. He said, specifically: "You can't review 650,000 emails in eight days." As he spoke, the crowd jeered. I started to yell at the television set: "They didn't have to review that many emails in eight days! They reviewed a tiny fraction of that, and only those that had any correlation to Hillary Clinton. Does he not understand this?" (Well, speaking factually has not been a priority of his campaign, so it shouldn't be a surprise.)

But as I sat there fuming, I thought of how utterly manipulative this man is. He has no respect for the office he is seeking. He pays no mind to the pain and fractures he is creating, nor the tornadoes of discrimination and distrust that he is fomenting. In reality, I believe it feeds him.

Just yesterday at a Trump rally, a peaceful protester holding a "Republicans Against Trump" sign was knocked down and tackled by attendees before being whisked outside by a group of police officers (par for the course considering Trump's previous encouragement of violence at his rallies). Someone in the crowd had yelled "gun!" and so the secret service had swooped down and hurried Trump off stage. Ultimately there was no gun. The words of the peaceful protestor afterward, when asked about his treatment by the crowd:

I like these people. These are my fellow Americans. I love these people. 
I understand that they came here because they're patriotic. They want to 
do good for their country. So, the things that were going on...
this is the main reason why I do not support Donald Trump. He's fascist. 
You know, he's a dictator. And these type of people, they take good people 
and they turn them into animals

(For contrast, this is how Obama handled a pro-Trump protester at a Clinton rally recently).

So, does Trump's manner bear some resemblance to fascism? Yes, according to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a scholar of fascism at New York University, in an article written by Jonathan Blitzer for the New Yorker. A particularly potent and somber excerpt:

In the speech of Mussolini, Putin, Trump, and also Berlusconi, 
Ben-Ghiat notes a pattern: they are at once transparent about 
their intentions and masters of innuendo. “Trump trails off. 
He uses ellipses and coded language. He lets his listeners fill in 
what they want.” When Trump seemed to suggest that gun owners 
should deal with Hillary Clinton themselves, or when he talked 
about needing to “watch” certain communities out to steal the 
vote on Election Day, his statements were more powerful for their 
ambiguity. “It’s all about letting listeners convince and mislead 
themselves,” she said. 

Yes, that has been one of the most terribly fascinating aspects of this election cycle.

Excerpts from stanzas 63-64 of the Havamal read:

Inquire and impart 
should every man of sense 
who will be accounted sage...
His power should every wise man
use with discretion.*

May the outcome of tomorrow's election afford us the opportunity to continue - as individuals, as a nation, and as a planet - the important work of spreading the noble virtues of respect, justice, equality, wisdom, integrity, kindness, patience, and responsibility. 

*Benjamin Thorpe translation

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