Image: Wikipedia Commons image by Gage Skidmore
Having written a book about the collective ego of the world, entitled The Egotist, I researched the causes and consequences of the untamed ego and found a solution to the distress of the egoistic instincts that rule us. Given the openly egoistic nature of the first reality TV star turned presidential candidate, I can tell you our country is in for a heap of more trouble, not because of what he will do, but because of what this phenomenon represents. Though I would like to be cautiously optimistic that the most qualified candidate will win, I can almost guarantee—I feel it in my gut—that Donald Trump will be elected president.
As we saw in the early Brexit polls and later in the decision, people say they will vote one way until fear beats at them in the solitude and privacy of an election booth. Will this fundamentally topple American values? Probably not. There will be no wall to Mexico and no the Mexicans will not pay for it. In all likelihood Trump will return to the moderately conservative Hillary supporting values he had before he was trying to win an election with pseudo-fascist calls to take America back. The greater problem is what Trump spews seems to be what the people want.
Everywhere we look these days, the ego is driving people apart. Smart people, stupid people, rich people, poor people, black people, white people, Jewish, Chinese, short and tall people. To quote Depeche Mode, “People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?” We can’t seem to help ourselves. African Americans are fed up with the unfair treatment they have received from police and courts for generations, let alone the horrors of slavery that preceded the unfair treatment. Officers still fear for their lives working in crime-riddled communities. Mostly innocent Muslims are treated as enemies to the state, while everyone is communally afraid of the brewing Muslim extremism both in the United States and knocking at the borders.
There is an impending sense of hopelessness in all cross-sections of American life. Even the well-educated Upper Middle Class kid is graduating college with at least 100K of student loan debt. These conflicts and the failings of the system of American government are driving people apart, building anger and resentment that balloon the ego, both individually and collectively. While some may argue the hateful internet message board is the vilest place on earth, it is the nation’s id and Donald Trump has succeeded in tapping into it.
In spite of this frightening proclamation, ego suppression is not a tenable solution. The ego is a delicate creature that cannot be tamed, and must be directed to a higher purpose. There is an alternative that has the potential to save humanity from destroying each other and the seemingly irreparable state of the planet we occupy. Since our nature is destructive—even self-destructive—humanity is crying out to find a solution to the cycle of hatred that divides America and the rest of the world.
With or without religion, an angel and a devil guide people on either shoulder. The desire for the self works usually in opposition with the desire for a better world. As long as humanity is guided by self-interest, the ego will continue to grow destructively and the world will be plagued with irresolvable problems.
If we choose to see our troubles as an obstacle to overcome, a sign that it is always darkest before the light at the end of the tunnel we have a chance at connecting above our differences, in spite of the fact our leaders offer no solutions. In order to fix the problems that plague us, we as individuals must acknowledge that even though we know what is right, our ego will always be driven by our desires and our current environment that only feeds us the wrong desires. Our problems will not be solved economically or militarily, or with liberal pseudo-fascist decrees of political correctness.
Though we cannot change our desires we can change our intention to build a world where everyone has the chance to benefit if we decide to sit with one another and discuss openly what ails us. Instead of protests, our cities need to provide places where people can meet to discuss possible solutions to the crisis looming around us, with a structure where people agree to listen to each other and not interrupt each other, so they can learn to empathize with each other’s feelings no matter how outlandish they believe them to be. By annulling the ego temporarily for this purpose, people will slowly learn to properly connect with and care for one another. My experience with the Arvut Social Movement in Israel and Connected Wisdom in America has convinced me that the workshop method is a clear pathway to better human connection that always works in spite of broad cultural differences. If the people demand better relationships and work for it, it will come and JFK’s address of “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” will gradually replace the current American ethos of “this country is going straight to hell.”
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