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The Future is Empathy

I haven’t been posting on my blog much lately. I found this in my draft folder. I wrote it in September 2017. I feel that it’s worth sharing. May we all find our place in the Great Story. Full disclosure: I am Canadian.

In my online travels I have encountered many conversations about why people still support President Donald Trump (or, honestly, why they ever supported him in the first place). I do my best to listen and hold an open, empathetic space. This is what I hear in their stories and statements.

  1. The idea that President Trump is being unreasonably targeted, harassed & attacked by (a) people who are playing a dirty game in a dirty system and/or (b) people who are experiencing “sour grapes,” disappointed in their own results and wanting to take down someone who succeeded where they failed.
  2. The belief that when one is being unreasonably targeted, harassed & attacked there are only two ways to respond: by being victimized or by fighting back. They admire and desire a president who fights back and refuses to play the victim.
  3. The idea that all of the targeting, harassment & attacks are distracting, deterring and/or delaying him from doing his job. Therefore he is admired even more for fighting to hold and solidify his leadership position.
  4. A conviction that it is results that matter. He has promised certain results. He is working towards those results. All of this nonsense and noise is a distraction. Again, he is further admired for fighting through it to stick to his agenda and deliver results.
  5. The feeling that the system is no longer “for” them – no longer working in their favour or benefiting their interests. President Trump’s supporters no longer want a story of Camelot that turns out to be a disappointing pipe dream. They prefer a gritty aggressive outsider who dares to speak the truth about how bad things are for them and will restore their story by bucking the system.
  6. An understanding that this is who and what they voted for. The Donald J. Trump brand is of a successful, hyper-competitive, aggressive businessman who fights, insults, shoots from the hip and goes after what he wants – not stopping until he gets it. He fires or attacks whomever fails to meet his standard and rewards those who do. This is the brand he has been marketing for 20 years. This is who ran. This is who is president.
  7. A belief in The Shadowy Adversary: the political system in general is heavily influenced by this presumption. However, for about 9 years or so, a story has emerged that casts key representatives of one side as existing in a web of lies, crime, conspiracy, elitism and unpatriotic behaviour. There has been a consistent and deliberate effort to promote this story from within the system. “The Other” is not to be trusted, must be protected against and presumed to be corrupt. If President Trump labels anyone or any part of the system an adversary … his supporters act accordingly.

I do not know if I am correct in all or any of my interpretations. The stories we tell about ourselves and others matter. If we shut ourselves to the stories of others, we can never hope to build understanding. The future is empathy.

In Gratitude:
photo credit: david drexler Empathy via photopin (license)

Published inArticles & Essays

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