One is not enough
The title of this article is a spin on the famous slogan that was successfully used during the election campaign to make Donald Trump the president of the United States. The slogan “Make America Great Again” raises some interesting questions such as, when exactly was this great time we are attempting to return to? “Make America Great” without the “Again” part might have been a better choice. I think a more important question to ask though is why do we continue to believe one single human is capable of changing a nation of nearly 320 million people in a meaningful way ? During these past 8 years Barack Obama showed us this is simply not possible despite some very inspired voters that hoped it was. He obviously accomplished many great things during his time in office, and there is a complicated explanation for why he didn’t accomplish more, but he alone was not enough. A person like the Dalai Lama can be an effective leader of many people, though I would argue that is because he is much more of a spiritual leader than a political leader. It always helps to have a great leader, and to have your preferred candidate in the White House, but we need to be realistic about our expectations of being saved by one single person.
Look in the mirror
I know there are many people upset with the outcome of the election, and this is understandable, but should we be surprised? For the first time a billionaire is now the leader of the wealthiest country in the world. My only question is, why didn’t this happen decades ago? Does he not represent the story of America? One can only become a billionaire by having a fierce obsession with accumulating as much material wealth as possible for reasons far beyond the need to simply survive and be happy. He is the perfect leader for a country full of people seeking the same in their personal lives. I’m not here to debate politics or bash Trump, even though he seems to deserve it. My purpose is to hold up the mirror for all to take a good look at themselves. When it comes to personal health I find great value in taking accountability for my actions rather than making excuses and blaming others for my current condition, and I believe the same applies to the health of a nation, or an entire planet. What role have we played in creating this mess? How can we explain all the wars, inequality and destruction of the environment? We could blame the profit driven corporate executives and the politicians that serve them, but there are far fewer of them than there are of us, and they only profit when we consume their products. Holding up the mirror is not a desirable job because most people don’t want to look, but none of us has the luxury of claiming ignorance anymore. Who hasn’t heard of climate change by now? We know these problems exist, yet we have this silly idea that voting once every 4 years without significantly changing our personal lives will be enough to put the brakes on this speeding train that is heading straight for the cliff.
“The empire controls the media, the media controls the world, COME ON, media is the empire’s mouth, capitalist propaganda coming out, and violence all in the name of FREEDOM, freedom is not competition, I believe that freedom’s got to come from within, yes it does”
-Lyrics from United States Global Empire, performed by Mason Jennings
Vote with your dollar
Voting is not enough, and neither is protesting in the streets, political organizing, electoral reform, or whatever strategies the democratic party is currently planning for the 2020 election. Now I’m certainly not suggesting that everybody lay down and accept defeat. All these political strategies are definitely necessary, but neither will be enough to create a truly healthy world for our grandchildren to live in. My background is in Environmental Science, so I view the problems we face from that perspective. After all, nothing else matters after your home is destroyed, so we better take care of our home. In America everything revolves around the almighty dollar so how we spend our money shapes the direction of the economy and by extension the world we live in. Do you buy organic or conventional food? Do you bag your food with a reusable or disposable bag? Do you walk to the store or drive? Do you shop at the community food co-op or the corporate grocery store? Do you buy local seasonal produce or is it shipped globally? Do you recycle or trash your waste? How about taking it a step further by not generating waste in the first place? Do you choose efficiency or waste, natural or synthetic, minimal or excessive, needs or wants? Which brings us to the ultimate question behind environmental destruction through consumerism; do you believe your materialistic wants will solve your problems and make you truly happy, or are they only covering the real problem?
When I first created this website I defined a Sattvic Planet as follows: “a potential world that we could create as a direct result of becoming more mindful. In other words, global change starts at the individual level, and we can’t expect to solve society’s greatest problems until we awaken to our own truth”. Yes there will always be political and corporate decisions made outside of our control, but the small actions we do have control over make a big difference when multiplied by 320 million people.
Earlier I asked when exactly was this great time we are attempting to return to and I suppose the same question applies to the title of this article. When was America ever awake? It would be tempting to refer to the mass psychedelic cultural experiment that was the 1960s. A time prior to the war on drugs when researchers at universities were actively and legally experimenting with the use of psychedelics for therapy. Or perhaps we need to look all the way back to the time of the Native Americans prior to European colonization. For now let’s simply say “Make America Awaken”, and even that is challenging as we can’t make people awaken, it is a voluntary process that happens at the unique speed of each individual. However, we can do our best to create an environment that encourages the awakening process to begin, and serve as role models that help others who are ready. Speaking of slogans, one of the most famous slogans to come out of the 1960s came not from a politician, but from psychedelic explorer Timothy Leary who famously said “turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Here is a slight modification from Leary’s original intention. Turn on, awaken from your consumerist slumber to the state of the world outside of television shows and shopping malls. Do this through whatever methods necessary, seek guidance from within, and find a trusted source of information and learn how the system really works beyond the news headlines. Tune in, interact harmoniously with the world and express your new state of awareness. Drop out is not a suggestion to be ignorant and inactive, rather to find a meaningful path that doesn’t require conforming to a broken society.
The pendulum swings
America has made a choice, and nothing short of an impeachment or old age is going to change that, so now what? I am definitely alarmed about the potential damage this administration is likely to cause, but I can’t afford to live in a constant state of fear and stress. Once you know how the game is played then it becomes unnecessary to follow the news every hour of every day. How many different analysts do you need to hear give detailed speculation of whatever terrible decision Trump makes? Beyond taking accountability for my life and being a role model for others to learn from, the best I can do is have faith in the pendulum of US political preference. After swinging 8 years to the left with Bill Clinton the pendulum swung back to the right for 8 years with war hungry George Bush and then swung back left once again even further to Nobel Peace Prize winner and our first African American president Obama. I can’t imagine how far the pendulum might swing in the opposite direction following the Trump era. Perhaps we will see America’s first Native American lesbian president that also openly admits to participating in peyote ceremonies. Until then we need to integrate the lessons we are learning into our daily routine. It’s time to seek a better path, heal people and planet, and achieve a much deeper level of success than merely material wealth. You’ve all heard the phrases “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”, and “be the change you want to see in the world”, now I’d like to propose a new political twist on them for the next campaign “We the People for President in 2020”.