They're Fired! What Happens When 'They' Are We?

Life is a reality show, or so it seems. The weapon is humiliation; the pace is fast, and the loser is the one slowest on his/her feet. You don't need to be an intellectual for this show; you need to be a survivor. And for that you have to know how to make other people feel worse than you.
08/01/2016 05:40 pm ET Updated Aug 02, 2017

Life is a reality show, or so it seems. The weapon is humiliation; the pace is fast, and the loser is the one slowest on his/her feet. You don't need to be an intellectual for this show; you need to be a survivor. And for that you have to know how to make other people feel worse than you.

Donald Trump cannot win the presidential election. Say I, knowing that saying anything doesn't make it so. So, then, this is about that.

We have bought into humiliation as a source of entertainment for a while now. Is that because people have been feeling humiliated in so many varieties of ways? Is it because we feel ridiculed if we don't fit in to the expectations on our block, in our school, on our schoolyard, in our place of work? Is it because the focus in our society is on celebrities who are prettier, richer and younger?

Donald Trump told people they were fired. Is it exhilarating to be looking for a president to tell the rest of the world they are now fired? And who tells any group demanding his/her fair share without having "earned" it that they will have to exit and therefore be fired in some way. And if so, what happens if we realize that the "they" are really "we"? That we have grown up in a culture where competition makes the loser feel terrible, humiliated and alone, maybe something we've gotten all too used to.

Nobody likes to feel less than or humiliated. It's brutal and helpless and ugly and shaming. When we really understand that those things feel terrible, when we feel the feelings involved, we really don't want to inflict them on anyone else.

How to get out of the reality show routine? I'm asking, and I'm sharing my worries. It's destructive and distracting to post Trump jokes, because he is not a joke. The fact that polls are saying he could win is not funny.

We all seem to be playing at this game called something like, "See what he's done now? Did you hear about the newest details about her emails?" It's gossip column stuff. It's petty. It's scary.

I'm the first to say -- as I've written -- that real patriotism is not the odes that say how great we are, or for that matter how great we were. At the same time, though, to play on our hate for each other, and all the other peoples and countries in the world, is dangerous fun, if it feels like fun at all.

The reality show thing wins at ratings because it feeds on our hunger to get back at people who humiliate us, since we root for the big power that makes other people feel bad. And we don't realize all the while that we're the ones who are being fired. For sure, we're being fired up, and in the meantime, we're being played the fool.

My truth is that I grew up Jewish feeling Jews were the ones who suffered the most and deserved the most compassion. I don't feel that way anymore and don't want to play this game, of taking sides -- even against Republicans -- and thinking it's patriotic. For one thing, it makes us hateful and part of the hate, and that can't be a good thing.

I have always felt there is hope for cooperation and honesty that comes from two different directions: one is that there is a hunger for the truth that comes with the exhaustion of walking on eggshells. The other is I've thought that most people hate being played the fool, and that if and when we get that this is the case, we will rise up to stop the humiliation of being so manipulated.

I could be pretty much alone here, but I want to stop playing these games. I want to say to Trump supporters that you must feel that people have blamed you for everything and made you feel small. You must feel that it's time to stop that, and get back in some form at anyone who has taken part in this. Maybe. At least people who feel accused and shamed tend to feel humiliated, and a large segment of the population seems to feel that minorities, including intellectuals, who place blame on them and demand reparations, are the enemy.

I don't think that way, but I do think that it's time for us to realize the emotional impact blame and demands and judgment have had on an important segment of the population. We all tend to be prejudiced and when we feel superior to other groups, including Trump supporters, we tend to scapegoat them and then humiliation becomes the center of the sport.

I try in my work to help parents "take the power out of power". First we need to discipline ourselves. Then we need to remember that power only, when it is overpowering, tends to create a few kinds of kids. One is the kid who is so meek and is a follower at any cost. The next is a kid who withdraws. And the next is a kid who becomes an addict, addicted to the fight, and to the feel of it. And then there is the kid who looks you in the face and says, "I don't care." And then the struggle, the game, maybe the relationship, is over.

Are we getting a divorce then? Or are we addicted to the fight? If the latter were to be so, what would happen if we won?

And what then happens if this is not about a fight at all, or about being fired? What happens if we need desperately to learn how to work together and to get out of the fire we seem to be rushing toward?