Donald Trump is not our problem in America. He is not the disease, although he is certainly a very troublesome symptom. Electoral politics and the dash to polarization are not the problem, nor the antiquated function of the electoral college, not to deny that a few systemic tweaks might provide some small relief from our indigestion and pain.
Our problem is our eyes. It’s literally that we have chosen and clung to a very limited vision, an illusion that we believe to be complete and real. Whether we quake in fear and despair, watching blue states tumble to red and making frantic calls to legislators who seem deaf to voices without dollars. Whether we fulminate from the brilliant ivory tower of The New York Times. Whether we are certain that the immigrant other, seasoned with a dash of moral decline, is undermining our safety and the foundation of our American values. Whether we shake our snarling 4×4 fist as big government swallows the last guppy in our hard-earned and well-deserved Mar-a-Lago koi pond. Whatever our fear and angst, we are all, for the most part, just looking through the eyes of our chosen limitation.
And that’s just it, the eyes of fear and angst. The thing that binds us together, the foundational truth of America today is eyes that see only my shrinking piece of American pie.
Jackson Browne laments:
Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand*
Doctor, my eyes. They see the hurt, petulant little boy spinning like a pulsar between his black hole need for adulation and his fits of distemper when we are unwilling or unable to pacify him. But he is our little boy, and we put him in charge. We must accept full responsibility.
Noble democracy, precious concept, is not our elixir. Today it is our exfoliant. It reveals the perilously thin skin of our fear, our polarization, our sorrow and longing, our greed, our corporate angst.
‘Cause I have wandered through this world
And as each moment has unfurled
I’ve been waiting to awaken from these dreams*
From the Gospel of Thomas saying 22 or Gospel of Mary Magdalene 30:12, these confounding words are essentially the same:
When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will gain the Kingdom.
“When you make . . .” my, your, our making. When we make our eyes something other than the eyes of our personal fear. When we rebirth our limited sight with the panorama of the kingdom of the spirit, we see a different world. It is not an American world, a Russian world, a Christian or Muslim world.
When we make these eyes, we might see the hurting little boy just as he is and take care of him. Certainly we would protect him from the inappropriate terror, his and ours, of placing him in the most powerful political position in the world.
We might also see the broken dreams of the working class and the hopes of the refugee and immigrant, with or without papers. Perhaps we would see through the paper money walls of our financial skyscrapers and over the bulwarks of our gated communities. Maybe we would see that these gates, these flimsy walls, are built by and rest on the shoulders of the formerly invisible and now despised. And we would have compassion for the hunger and fear of every being across this entire spectrum of humanity.
We might see that promoting hollow entertainment all the way to the doorstep of our nearly abandoned White House does not make for good governance. We might comprehend that the illusionists of “reality TV” can never transform petulance into POTUS. We might notice that fanning the flames of polarization to sell media ultimately burns away the bonds of healthy community.
Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what you see
I hear their cries
Just say if it’s too late for me*
Good news. The doctor is in. She’s got our eyes. They are truly ours. We can make them new. We can use them to see a world without borders. We can peer with them into the heart of each and see the need of all. But let’s not stop there.
Let’s look up and down, left and right, in and out. Take in the beauty beyond imagining, the world as it is without the borders of our old eyes. Absorb the wonders of the created and the unfolding. Rest in the assurance of a shared enough.
May our true eyes light the path of compassionate action with no attachments. Perhaps in this way, we will pick up and wield the tool of democracy with better respect and to greater effect.
© Jerry S Kennell, Two Trees in the Garden. Feel free to quote, as useful, with proper reference.
Jerry Kennell provides spiritual direction in person and by Skype at Two Trees Center for Spiritual Development, Estes Park, Colorado. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text to (970) 217-6078. Click FOLLOW in the upper left menu bar to be notified of future posts.