Dumping coal slurry into rivers. Deregulating Wall Street. Dangerous cabinet picks. New tension with our allies in Australia and Mexico and NATO. Turning a blind eye to Russian aggression in Ukraine and interference with our election. Trump's schoolyard antics of taunting Iran, China, North Korea in hopes of starting a fight. The dismantling of the EPA. Millions of Americans losing health insurance. Public education threatened. Supreme Court nominees, the Muslim ban, the white supremacist, war monger Stephen Bannon who has the President's ear and is now on the Security Council.
Yes, it's overwhelming and it's meant to overwhelm. Every day new developments are thrown at us to disorient, divide and confuse us. Shock and awe on a psychological level. Most of us are stressed, outraged, fearful as these events unfold. That is a normal and healthy reaction. If you aren't feeling these symptoms, then you aren't really paying attention.
It's no wonder that Orwell's 1984 is a best seller again. Remember its motto? Slavery is freedom; ignorance is strength; war is peace. In this world of paradox, what is true is what is opposite to what is said. Trump's bullying, his slash and burn and take no prisoners is supposed to make us safe. Do you feel safer in a chaotic America?
On Groundhog Day I was envious of the groundhog because it could go back in its hole for six weeks.
How do we stay grounded when our world has been turned upside down?
Trust yourself and the reality you know and see.
First, you are not paranoid for not trusting this administration. We need a new lens for decoding their message. What is said is the opposite of what is real. We have a mentally unstable president who blatantly lies to us, along with his spokespeople Conway and Spicer and Hannity. The propaganda machine was in full swing during the election and its still here now. Trump repeatedly says, "believe me," which means don't believe him. They can call the lies alternative facts but they are still fabricated stories.
Trump supporters thought Obama was weak and that Trump is strong, but it's actually the opposite. It takes a lot more strength to collaborate than it does to bully. Trump's biggest limitation is that he has no capacity, no skills for tolerating vulnerability in himself. He cannot admit to making a mistake or to being wrong; therefore he cannot learn. Because it is so threatening to his identity, he compensates, digs in deeper, lies more, and then accuses others of what he himself cannot face about himself. He mocks a "so called judge" because he doesn't want to admit he is a "so called president." Everything around him is "a disaster," when in fact he is the disaster. He shames others because he cannot feel shame. He humiliates others in order to not be humiliated. The best defense is a good offense.
So if you feel confused about what is being said and what is true, this is his goal. When he deregulates the financial industry that brought the economy to its knees in 2008, and says this will help economic growth and job creation, don't believe it. Job creation and economic growth is the generic blanket that justifies everything he is trying to dismantle. He inherits a 4 percent unemployment rate; that's not exactly a job crisis. Let's see what he does to that.
What you can do:
Trust your instincts.
Paul Ryan initially said that Trump was unfit and that the Muslim ban was illegal. Now he has rationalized, white washed what he knew was true. I wonder how much damage Trump has to inflict on the country before the Republicans will find a backbone to stand up to him. Don't fall for that trap where they deny what they said or did. Trust your own eyes and ears. All that is happening is not normal.
Seek common ground with Trump supporters.
Obviously, not all Trump supporters are fascists, supremacists, racists, misogynists, a fringe that have found themselves with mainstream power. What we have in common is that the majority of the country wanted change, from Bernie supporters to Trump. We wanted a government that was working for the people, not only big business. We wanted to see the economic gap between rich and poor narrow. We just had different ideas about how to get there. But I don't think that even Trump supporters were counting on Trump setting up a government for and by oil companies. Oil companies' influence until now has been covert; now it's overt.
Trump supporters say they are happy with Trump's actions because he is doing what he said he would do in his campaign. But this chaos he is creating by breaking traditions, rules, and American values, is actually a symptom of a deeper change he is trying to create and one he never stated in his campaign.
He never said that he was going to dismantle democracy and set up an authoritarian regime which he would head. Is Putin his role model? Now if we asked our Trump supporter friends if they voted for democracy to be dismantled, do you think they would have signed on?
In order to achieve this new political order Trump has to throw out checks and balances, and he does this by discrediting our institutions daily. Judges carry no weight with him when they disagree with him; he knows more than the military; he doesn't need briefings. By discrediting our institutions, he creates confusion, a vacuum that he is most happy to fill with his own ideas that tend toward totalitarianism.
Be critical thinkers
Trump's favorite daily rant is to discredit the media who more enabled than disabled his rise to the top. By planting seeds of doubt as to what people can believe, he tries to control the narrative. There is a lot of fake news, but lets call it what it is, propaganda. However, there are many credible media outlets with quality investigative reporting. Forbes has provided a credible list.
They are not always perfect but they don't out and out lie or twist the truth to be something else.
All of us need to become better at critical thinking.
Now is the time to use your voice.
Trump has created chaos but herein lies an opportunity. Out of chaos a new order can emerge that represents the people, not Bannon's ideas, if we stay engaged, diligent, resistant and keep an eye on that light of hope. We are called to use our creativity. It's an opportunity to see that we are more alike than different. It's an opportunity for our shared humanity to shine. What crosses partisan lines is that we love America and we love democracy. We can be outraged but it is persistence that will make the difference, like water wears away rock. Trump rode a wave of anger into the White House. A wave of anger or violence isn't going to flush him out. That feeds into his script. Truth and courage to stand for what is right and not back down is how we will prevail.
It has been heartening to see people's activism, realizing that we cannot take our freedoms for granted. This process can make clearer our vision as Americans.
As Elie Wiesel once said, "Sometimes it's only through the ruins that you can see the sky."