Monday, January 1, 2018

12 Ways to Survive Trumplandia in 2018

Happy New Year! 

If you are like me, you spent the majority of 2017 like this:

Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister in "Home Alone"
It's been brutal, no doubt. I freely admit to losing it on social media on more than one occasion, and lying awake at night wondering if I'm stuck in that Dallas episode with Bobby Ewing in the shower. But sadly, no, it's not a dream. All of this is quite real (more on this later). 

I am not a religious person, I do believe there is a power greater than all of us, that lives inside all of us, that surrounds us, that is the source of all our joy, happiness and strength, that is accessible any time day or night. It goes by many names: God, Allah, Love, the Force, the Universe, the Collective Unconscious, meditation, and many more. Whatever it is, it transcends this 3-dimensional reality. It's the glue that holds us all together. 

In between fits of rage and an occasional shoe-throwing-at-the-TV episode, I found myself calling on that power quite a lot last year. It brought me to the point of surrender. Not the white flag waving kind. Rather, the kind Obi Wan had when he turned off his light saber and let Darth Vader turn him into space dust. There's strength in letting go. There's strength in nonviolence. 

Violence doesn't have to be physical. It manifests in thoughts and words, too. And it's exhausting. Being at peace requires much less energy. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of being angry and frustrated. I'm tired of being depressed. And I'm the only one who can fix that. 

I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions, so let's just call this a big coincidence. Here are 12 ways I plan to implement for a more peaceful journey through Trumplandia this year. I've already started doing some. I don't claim to be perfect, but I will make a concerted effort. 

If any of them bring you comfort, terrific. If you think this is all a bunch of hokum, I'm okay with that, too. Take what you like and leave the rest. 

  1. Hate the behavior, not the person
    At some point or another, those whom we love unconditionally will do or say something by which we feel hurt. It's normal. But do we hate them? No. We hate the behavior. The behavior is not the totality of them. It's a choice they made in that particular moment. It's easy to hate. It's much harder to love. 
  2. Practice Loving Kindness
    The strongest force on this planet is Love. Every human being on this planet burps, farts, has bad breath sometimes... and suffers. No amount of money will change that fundamental fact. Loving Kindness is a specific practice of cultivating loving thoughts and feelings starting with ourselves and moving outward all the way to those we dislike. If there is more love, there is less hate. It's that simple. 
  3. Don't name-call
    Name-calling makes us no better than those to whom we are calling them. What do we gain from calling Donald Trump or someone on social media any number of names? A momentary feeling of satisfaction? Sure, but in the long run, we are no better than Trump in his worst name-calling moments. 
  4. Put policies before personalities
    After my infamous YouTube moment with Christie, and while I was running for state assembly, countless people shared Christie fat-shaming memes with me on social media. I made it clear that my issues with him had nothing to do with his weight, and everything to do with his policies. Think about this: would you be proud of your child for making fun of an overweight child? Would you laugh at and share memes if Christie was blind? In a wheelchair? Had some other disability? Food addiction is a disease like alcoholism or drug addiction. It's not something to shame someone for having. Neither is dementia. And there are a lot of people out there making the case that Trump may have that or some other form of mental illness.
  5. VOTE!
    Almost half of all registered voters did not vote in 2016. Can you imagine the possibilities if they did? This is a right that many people around this world only dream of. Many people fought, suffered and died for our right to do so. Even if you don't like any of the candidates, you can write in someone. But please, don't take this basic freedom and cornerstone of our democracy for granted.
  6. Get involved
    Everyone is really busy, so don't even go there. But ask yourself, Am I too busy to fight for my freedoms? For my children's future? For my country? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Not everyone can march in a protest rally, but ALL of us can make one phone call to our representatives. ALL of us can send them an email. And if we do it once, we can do it again. And again. Activist organizations have devised so many quick and easy ways to do so that there really is no excuse. If "we the people" don't speak up, our representatives will only vote in their best interests.
  7. Give yourself news blackout days
    Malcom McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange"
    If I let myself, I could leave the news on 24/7, but then I'd end up like this. So, give yourself a break. Turn off the TV. Go for a walk. Pet the cat. Have coffee with a friend. Do something to take your mind off the insanity because you know it'll still be there when you get back, but you'll be better able to handle it.
  8. None of this is real
    Yea, I know, this one may be tough to swallow. It is for me. But in my quest for understanding, I have come to embrace the belief of many spiritual and metaphysical teachers that this 3-dimensional reality is an illusion. The real real is what lies beyond, in other realities of which we only get glimpses in dreams, déjà vus states and some heavy duty meditation (of which I am no where near). As I said, this is tough to swallow, particularly for those who stood on long lines last week waiting to pre-pay their 2018 property taxes. But do try to dip your toe in the waters of possibility.
  9. Turn on, tune in, drop out
    Unlike Timothy Leary, I do not espouse dropping LSD to escape from Trumplandia. However, Leary did say, 
      Like every great religion of the past we seek to find the divinity within and to express this revelation in a life of glorification and the worship of [insert name of higher power of your choice]. These ancient goals we define in the metaphor of the present — turn on, tune in, drop out.  
    How do you take care of yourself? I've taken up meditation, yoga and tai chi as means to deal with the stress I feel on a daily basis. I watch my sugar intake. I have stacks of inspirational daily readers on my nightstands. Make sure you're taking care of yourself: body, mind and spirit.  
  10. No violence
    Ghandi said, "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." Self defense is one thing, but inciting violence makes us no better than those whom we oppose. Violence manifests in words as well as deeds, so watch what you say, too.
  11. Don't let politics ruin families and friendships
    Loving families and friends are priceless gifts. I'm fortunate in that my family is in agreement politically. Most of my friends are, too. But, I have some dear old friends with whom I don't see eye-to-eye on politics. We discuss—up to a point. Then we agree to go back to our political corners and drop it. I do appreciate hearing their side of things. After all, none of us knows everything.
  12. Don't be the second person Just because someone says something or posts something on social media that you don't like (even if it's an attack against you), you don't have to respond. Remember, it's the second person who starts an argument.
I hope you find something useful in what I've written. If so, please share with others. As I said earlier, take what you like and leave the rest. 

Wishing you a healthy, happy, peaceful and proactive 2018.