The election of Trump as president is a further symptom of a broken global society
27 years ago to the day, the Berlin Wall came down, signifying the literal and figurative demolition of a segregated community, following the most terrifying period of recent human history. 2 World Wars, a Holocaust, a Cold War and a near Nuclear War later, history books printed the message in black and white: this will never happen again.
It would be too easy to look at the current state affairs and see 2016 as The Year Everything Went Wrong™. However, terrorist attacks (9/11, 7/7, 11/13), wars (Iran, Iraq, Gulf, Afghanistan, Gaza, Syria…), a global financial crisis, a rise in right-wing activity, a refugee crisis, unemployment, hate crime, mental illness, hunger, environmental emergencies, prove to be numerous symptoms of an epidemic. An epidemic that rears its ugly head time and time again.
Like an epidemic, a disease or an affliction, this
Speaking of a disease might sound simplistic. But understanding contemporary events through a lens of pain is easier than to give up and to declare all the bad voters a “basket of deplorables” (courtesy of HC).
Pain is not an excuse for bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, and all the other “isms” nobody likes to be accused of. However the declarations of change, of addressing populist fears and insecurities are what work. Promises that target pain and fear are the ones that provoke anger and aggression. A tactic that, as history knows, spreads like wildfire.
It’s easy to speak of fault. It’s easy for me as a white, middle class, educated women to say these things. I don’t deny the privilege that allowed me to stare incredulously at my smartphone, in bed, hiding under the covers as the world unfolded in front of my eyes.
Yet fault is to be found everywhere, none of us are exempt. It’s found in the incessant coverage that ensured Trump’s glaring and undeniable universal presence; in the rapt feasting on disaster; in the unbridled moral panic and media coverage of every calamity to hit society. It’s in the willing fostering of division, the abandon of cooperation, the fact that such a large number of the global population felt so cheated and despondent that the only answer was the extreme. It’s found in those who neglect to vote, to speak up in micro instances of injustice, of surrender to your own imagined individual impotence.
These words sound righteous and mighty, but the truth is, we will never overcome divergence, because it’s not in our nature. And as tempting as it is to close your eyes, go to the Winchester for a pint and wait until it all blows over, there is more you can do. Instead of all agreeing with each other on Facebook and Twitter about how awful the world has become, look and see what you can do. Are there political parties in your country that deserve listening to? Are there youth initiatives, religious seminars, demonstrations or protests that focus, not on exclusion and offense, but unity and peace? Did that person you know express unwarranted hatred? Did you ignore the casual comments of intolerance? Did you keep quiet when you could have stood up to someone?
There are a couple of ways this global drama will play out. The one we know all too well, bloody, loud and violent. And then there is the “road not taken” (sorry). The difficult, rocky unknown that might be better. Let’s try?