Synopsis: Trump and Triggers — the things we set ourselves off over are about us. There are no external triggers.
So, some week, eh?
So, here Darbella and I sit in Costa Rica, having had the difficult experience of watching the US elections. We gave up around 3 am eastern time, and went to bed, to awake to the results. Wednesday was a long day; we were sad and disheartened.
Most of our friends down here are as horrified as we are, although some have also reported walking away from diatribes provided by visitors to Samara — Trumpites with their most “interesting” world views.
I’m a “leftie” born and bred, and am ancient enough to have marched in Civil Rights and Anti Vietnam war marches, including one a month or so after the police riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. I have great sympathy for taking to the streets.
But I’m not going to discuss politics. I’m going to be radical (from the root radix — root) get down to basics, and propose that what’s happening right now is the perfect opportunity to study how you set yourself off. Thus the word “trigger” in the title.
I am NOT a “trigger warning” kind of guy
I’d like to suggest that people need to get over thinking that the world should cooperate in a “don’t do anything I might upset myself over” project. That’s just self-indulgent foolishness. It’s your job to figure out what you set yourself off over, and then choose to disconnect the wiring.
Thus, the work becomes both personal and existential.
I set myself off twice in one hour this morning (likely a new record for me!) First time it was a Facebook post from some random guy I know, blasting the protests under the rubric of, “How dare they challenge democracy.” I pointed out that Trump had suggested the same thing if he lost: rigged elections=do something about it–he even called for a march on Washington back in 2012, ’cause he didn’t like the results etc.
Guy replied that I was speculating about what Trump voters would have done, and he was commenting on what anti-Trumpers were actually doing. He wasn’t interested in exploring “the pot calling the kettle black.”
I dropped it, as I was winding myself up over nothing.
Then, not 15 minutes later, I got this, from a “supposed” friend:
“Celebrations are still going strong all over the known universe. Isn’t it awesome to have a strong, intelligent, caring MAN in the White House.
Doesn’t it make you proud to be an American Wayne?
How do you spell Hiel Trumpy?”
Well. Fuck. I’m being lumped in with the “dark side!!!”
I kinda lost it. Just a bit. I e-mailed:
“Good god, what are you coming at me for???? Not only did I leave the USA, I became a citizen of the country of my preference. Unlike some people I know.”
A little history, for those of you who don’t know it: I spent the first 24 years of my life in the USA, and have lived in Canada since 1975; I’ve been a citizen since 1989. I identify as Canadian. My left-leaning actions and preferences are well-known.
I could go on and on about who this guy is, and try to demonize him, but here’s the thing… for some reason (as he often does) he decided to take a poke in my direction, and I bit. I triggered myself.
I don’t play games like this (at least, the story I tell myself is that I don’t) but let me tell you, in this case, I wanted to. I wanted to rip him a new one.
So, what’s going on here? Well, while we could debate his use of words, and his intentions, it would be useless, as I didn’t, and am not going to, ask him.
So, the only thing we can talk about is my side of this.
I triggered myself.
I have a story — an invention — of who I am and what I stand for, and this e-mail was the impetus for me going: “How dare he! Doesn’t he know who I am… what I stand for???” All of this was done with such high dudgeon that I actually jumped to my feet. Took two stomping steps. I could feel my body heating, and my mouth really wanted to run.
Instead, I had a breath. And sat down, to write this.
As I write, I’m exploring the contents of my self-story. I’m checking in with myself, deciding how valid my beliefs are. And noticing how deeply my ego is invested in all of this.
Now, think about it. This guy’s e-mail says precisely nothing about me. It’s all about him. Despite knowing this, my ego tendency is to attack — to make him see the light (read, agree with my world-view.) This was also my intention with the other guy — to point out to him, with all my “wisdom,” the error of his ways.
Not my job.
I just read Michael Moore’s article, listing off things he was proposing “doing next.” Needless to say, I agree with his perspective. But here’s the key: He’s presenting a “to do list.”
My job is not to persuade the two guys, this morning, of anything. Not my job. My job is to notice how I set myself off, do what I needed to do with my anger (let’s call it what is was…) and then, and here is the key:
Disconnect the trigger, and get on with how I choose to actually live my life.
Speak out. Do what is necessary, according to me.
Get over myself, without blame, without finger-pointing, and decide what kind of person I want to be as I engage with others.
No matter how weird the next while is, externally, what each of us can do about it is specific: I can do what I actually do. It’s all about “boots on the ground.” Not indignation, anger, frustration, whatever. It’s all about what I choose to do, who and how I choose to be.
The rest is semantics.