During this election cycle in the US, I find tremendous cause for hate. Spoiler alert: I HATE Donald Trump--hate him with a passion I would otherwise reserve for terrorists, power-mongers, fundamentalists of any stripe, baby slappers, and puppy murderers. HATE. I hate that guy. He is a liar. A charlatan. A cheat. Someone who degrades others. An egomaniac who would put his personal power-lust at the top of the world agenda. He is a big, fat, bald, idiotic bully and my future could be in his hands and I HATE HIM.
This morning while I was meditating, I pictured myself punching him in the face. I wished he was dead. I found myself hoping that someone would kill him.
While I was meditating, y'all. As lame as I may be as a meditator and a Buddhist, I recognized that this was the wrong way to go. Even though I know I am as right as sunrise in the morning and darkness at night, I also know that whatever hate I put into the world (and allow to take root in my own heart) will only worsen that which I deplore. A cursory glance at the entire scope of recorded history proves my point: Hate leads to hate. Killing leads to killing. The hatred I feel for my enemies further fuels the hatred they feel for me. This is unavoidable. Someone has got to
put an end to it.
But how? There is no way I can or will try to cajole myself into feeling anything whatsoever soft for Donald Trump. No.
Please listen to this important point: In order to be loving, there is no need to feel love, if by love, we mean "kindly-disposed toward", "considerate of", or "trying to make nice". To love does not mean to treat each other like babies.
When we encounter a wellspring of fear and anger in our hearts that is clearly prompted by another's very existence, it is fruitless to try to talk ourselves out of it; it is actually dangerous to do so. Some people represent very real threats. Mobilization against them is appropriate and good. Action must be taken, and it should be swift, decisive, and unrelenting until the threat has subsided.
It is very complicated to do this without engendering more hate. To take right action against someone or something takes a lot of vision and maturity, more than most of us possess, myself included, obviously. It would be so much easier to take the anger and vitriol in my heart as fuel for my actions. But this is an exceptionally short-term view. Long-term, it is akin to slapping myself in the face and I don't want to do that.
How can we take powerful and potent action against what we know is wrong (and hateful) without hate and anger in our hearts?
This is the question. This is the key question. This is the important question that every single person must entertain. Our entire future as humans depends on it and I am in no way exaggerating. (If you think that this is some kind of lily-livered, new age, kumbaya talk, then I'm calling you out for taking the easy road. Get off that road. Come back to Planet Earth and reclaim your dignity for god's sake.)
Okay, now is the time when I tell you that I don't know how to answer the question myself. I'm sorry. However, I do have some clues and here they are.
1. Begin by examining your own personal view of humanity. Do you believe, or, more important, do you feel that, at our core, we humans are A. good or B. bad? By A, I mean, do you trust us? Do you trust yourself? Do you think that underneath it all, we care about ourselves and each other and are full of tenderness and grace? Or, B, do you believe that underneath it all, we are craven, self-centered jerks who are only out for ourselves and are incapable of seeing past our own small viewpoint?
Okay, I'm going to be straight-up with you here, dear reader. If you choose "B", please, please go back to the drawing board. Find where that belief came from. Look at it extremely carefully. Examine various viewpoints on the issue. Most important, sit down, be quiet, and look very, very closely at your own heart, at who you are. Don't get up until you glimpse something true that is also beyond your fears. If you still choose "B", so be it.
If you choose "A", either naturally or through this exercise, we can now move on to suggestion #2.
2. If "A" is true, then all of the heinous, vicious, violent, hate in the world is actually a form of extraordinary, wrong-headed, deep, and vile confusion--but not of evil. To hold this view does not make anything better, not at all. However, it does create a whit of space in our hearts and minds, some sense of okay, this is totally not the way things are supposed to be, how can we fix it...rather than, until these people (or this person, stupidly toupeed and vastly ignorant) are wiped out, there is no hope. What I'm trying to say is that choosing "A" is akin to choosing a sense of unification with our fellow humans, some of whom are profoundly, vastly messed up. Choosing "B" means only one thing: there is "Us" and there is "Them" and until They are gone, We are screwed.
As alluded to above, this does not work.
3. With some sense of sorrow and rage for the confusion of our world, rather than icy, degrading disdain, we could take this view: Hating Donald Trump is okay, no problem. Finding him to be unforgivable, laughable, and stupid is fine. Wishing he would take a permanent powder is completely acceptable. There is only one thing that is not okay, dear reader, and that is to think that you and I are any different than he is. Remember choice "A" from above? If our basic substance as humans is goodness, there are no exceptions. However, some of us are subject to factors of nature and nurture that lead to exceptional, horrible, dangerous confusion. You could have been Donald. I could have been Donald. So, rage with revulsion. Keen in horror. Be repulsed and mercilessly unforgiving. I repeat: No problem. However, don't think for one second that you are any different.
4. Here is a practice you can do to help you contain (as opposed to dispel or dissipate) your hatred in sensible way. When you find yourself engulfed in rage and terror, take a pause. Instead of fueling it with thoughts such as, "I can't believe he didn't repudiate the KKK immediately" and "If he is elected, it will mean Civil War II," take a look at what is just beneath your anger and fear. Given that "A" is true, here is what I believe you will find: Sadness. Bottomless, searing, human sadness. Unremitting care about Planet Earth and its inhabitants. Supreme protectiveness of what you hold dear. These things are beautiful, workable, expansive. Fear shrinks your mind. Tenderness expands it. Know that your opponents are exactly this way too. You may think they are idiots, but that's okay. They think you're an idiot. We could all examine going beyond this.
5. Okay, hitch up your big-girl and/or big-boy pants. This is where it gets real. I suggest you do Loving Kindness practice for Donald and the Donalds of this world. Here is how:
• Sit quietly for a few moments, which doesn't mean feel peaceful, by the way. It means sit with what is without trying to change it.
• Think of yourself and how desperately you want the world to be okay. How much you want happiness for yourself and those you love and how deep your feelings go. Acknowledge your own goodness. Wish for yourself relief from suffering and fear.
• Okay, now think of the Donald. In his own dangerously wrong way, he is motivated by what motivates you, some kind of (grievously dangerous, ignorant) wish to finally feel happy. Wish for him relief from suffering and fear. Try to really mean it. (You can do this and still hate him.)
• Think of everyone in the world who does idiotic stuff in the name of wanting happiness for themselves and those they love. Wish that they find relief from suffering and fear.
• Finally, think of everyone on Planet Earth, good, bad, ugly, and beyond categorization. Know that since the beginning of recorded history (at least), we humans have struggled to release ourselves from our fears, sometimes in noble ways and sometimes by enacting violence and hatred. All beings of the past, present, and future have struggled and will struggle in this way. Wish for all beings everywhere relief from suffering and fear.
• To close the practice, let all wishes go and simply sit with yourself for a few moments or as long as you like.
I wish you well in your struggle with hatred and fear. I have great, great faith in you, you, you, and you, and also in myself, even though I am obviously a bad Buddhist.
Hate and rage on, but use it as fuel for love. This is totally possible and I will be trying right alongside you.
PS To do any of this, it is extremely helpful to know how to meditate.