To begin, I am deeply saddened more than angry at the current state of affairs not only with Donald Trump and those parroting his lines of defiance, blame and inhumanity in the Oval Office, but also with this same systemic blaming and attacking mindset that occupies the minds of such a huge contingent of the world population that not only support this way of thinking but think this way themselves. I am sad. I will argue that they know not what they do, because if they did they wouldn’t do it.
You know I believe that if we collectively and individually knew ‘who’ we are attacking, whether it is refugees trying to find a new life in America, innocent Muslims practising their faith, women trying to find equal footing in the workplace, people of colour or LGBTQ fighting for equal rights and acceptance, families in cages at the border or currently the abandoned Kurds in Syria….if we really saw them as people we would never treat them this way. We wouldn’t treat them this way because we would witness the pain of what we are doing to them. We can only treat them this way if they are reduced to objects, obstructions to another’s personal agenda of power or greed. We can only reduce people to 2 dimensional objects or things when we become 2 dimensional ourselves pursuing 2 dimensional goals to satisfy our 2 dimensional surface self, having 2 dimensional relationships and a 2 dimensional depth of what can never be called happiness. The world becomes two dimensional, reduced to those who see the same two dimensions or those that deny us our object needs…money, power, separateness. This is the world of not only Donald Trump but the millions who have supported this rhetoric of sexism, racism and misogyny to identify but a few categories. Donald has forgotten who these others are because he has forgotten who he really is if he has ever really known at all. Thus there is no remorse. Remorse is an emotional experience dedicated to our accountable social interactions with each other and a natural human emotional consequence. If they are not viewed as 3 dimensional ‘people’, but as 2 dimensional problems or objects, what is there to feel bad about? They are not people. They are problems.
Beneath this object oriented black and white and defended way of thinking are people born into this world with an undying need to be connected and to love each other…even for Donald. To the extent that we have denied this or have been denied, we will be extremely unhappy no matter how successful we are in satisfying our shallow and empty object needs. No amount of power, wealth, touching women wherever you want because you are a celebrity, or new Trump Towers will make Donald or us feel better, because it isn’t what Donald or any of us need. 1000 times zero is the same as one times zero. It adds up to nothing. Donald Trump may be currently one of the most powerful men in the world, but I believe he is also one of most miserable and one of the most unhappy. No amount of 2 dimensional cheering at rallies, robot like cabinet members becoming cult like devotees, Fox News hailing him as King, or ‘being in love’ with foreign dictators will ever find its way to the 3 dimensional and human pain in the heart of little baby Donald that needed it from his Dad but never got it and buried such a very long time ago.
Donald can’t bear to look at his own pain and therefore can’t see it in others. Its that simple. Donald is desperate to feel better by an endless 2 dimensional pursuit of power and wealth. Even with world domination Donald will never be able to get enough adulation to replace his simple need of being loved by his father.
Can he stop long enough and not just skim over the recent news headlines of Kurdish fatalities of the Turkish bombings in the last week? Can you? These are human beings that are now dead. They become numbers. They are people with families that love and want to live no more and no less than you. In the mind of someone like Donald Trump it becomes part of mathematical calculation, a balance sheet of what he is prepared to use as currency just to keep his personal bottom line more lucrative, whether it his Trump Towers in Istanbul, business interests in Saudi Arabia or Moscow.
The Kurds are very personal to me. Years ago during the Gulf War the Kurds were left starving in the mountains without food, blankets, medicine or most importantly, a home. They once had their own country over a hundred years ago with Kurdistan. In 1920 that all changed. They lost their country.
During the Gulf war I personally organized a Telethon and benefit concert on behalf of Oxfam Canada called ‘On the border’ raising funds to directly aid those Kurds starving in the mountains in need of food, clothing and blankets. We raised thousands of dollars and I assume saved lives. The concert, held at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver were host to a lineup of Rock bands and raucous crowd more there for the music and beer than the cause. I decided to make this personal. I searched out and found a small group of Kurdish musicians. I arranged transportation from all over Western Canada for them to actually play at this Rock concert. They slept on my couch.
In the middle of the concert I had these unannounced Kurdish musicians walk on to the stage and stand there with their sitar like instruments. The room stopped and they were introduced and started playing. At this moment , even for the oblivious crowd attending this Rock event, the Kurds became people and within personal reach. They weren’t across the ocean, they were across the stage. The smoke filled, beer intoxicated crowd became virtually silent, profoundly touched by the delicate humanity of the sounds coming from the stage. They became people. They are people. They stopped drinking and started looking…some started crying. When we see people we care. When we see people we extend a hand rather than pumping a fist chanting some populist rhetoric. It’s that simple.
We have to actually see ourselves seeing them.
The question remains whether Donald Trump is actually capable of what I am asking. Can I see Donald Trump beyond being a two dimensional bigot and autocrat? Is it any more probable that Donald Trump can experience or even know what compassion and caring is, than asking someone that has been blind from birth to describe the colour red? As a therapist, which I am, this would be my ultimate task to answer.
What happened to this man that is unequivocally committed to such a profound two dimensional world view, prepared at any point to violate each and every relationship, whether it be Cohen, Sessions, Tillerson, Trudeau and so many others that would ever challenge the pursuit of his personal agenda or be disowned the moment the Donald might be implicated or be associated in any wrong doing that he actually birthed himself? Would he do the same with his own family if it came to that? Did this man ever have a legitimate attachment to any human being that there is anything to haunt or help him? I suspect not but I hope so.
For any of us that have had the experience of being in a serious conflict with another we can become Trump-like… reducing the one in front of us temporarily into a 2 dimensional enemy needing to be defeated. In these moments we paste a face hauled out from our past onto the one in front and do battle. We need to be right and we need the other to be wrong. At this point anything goes and usually does. In the heat of the feud we forget who the other is and do not know who we are hitting and hurting…until we do of course. Eventually the other actually becomes a person in our mind and heart, we feel bad when we know what we have done and perhaps more importantly who we are doing it to. We know how to do this because we also have a memory of this kind of 3 dimensional human attachment occurring in our lives. I am not sure Donald Trump has… but I hope so.
I appeal to everyone reading this to stop and reflect to what extent you are living or not living in a 3 dimensional relational world. You have power to affect change in your sphere of influence, to see people as people…people just like you that need love and caring, connection and help if we could only feel it inside ourselves we could see it in others. Then and only then would the Donald Trumps of the world disappear as leaders, because they wouldn’t have anyone to lead. Perhaps then the Donald’s of the world would go to therapy instead of war.
Donald, what happened to you?
Duane O’Kane is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, workshop facilitator, teacher and a dynamic and entertaining international public speaker. He has a lengthy background in mental health and social services…40 years and counting with 18 years in the field before forming Clearmind in 1991.