All of us are born and will someday die. All of us have needs and feelings. We all want to feel safe, loved, comforted and reassured. All of us have hopes and fears; we are, after all, all members of the Human Family, regardless of our skin colour, the language we speak or the way we seek meaning in life.
I am often struck by how arbitrary life can be. I am reminded of the saying ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I.’
We all create storylines
Those of us who have received loving, supportive attachment with parental figures; who have been held in loving, protective arms; and whose needs for being comforted and nurtured have been met, have been introduced to the capacity to feel love, compassion and empathy towards ourselves and others.
We are also provided with parameters within which to live our lives. Necessary limits are established that not only protect us, but also provide us with a needed sense of boundaries, a sense of right and wrong.
For children who have not received a sense of safety and reassurance, who have not experienced being held in warm, loving arms, life is often a succession of frustration, fear, anxiety, anger and a sense of helplessness.
For these little people, life can be a journey of seeking what they have not received. The absence of feeling attached to a loving, reassuring, protecting parental figure gives birth to the creation of narratives, storylines that attempt to make sense of what has been experienced in relation to other people. These narratives often lead to delusional conclusions and perceptions about who we are, as individuals and in relation to others.
We all create storylines to understand who we are in our interactions with others. However, those who have gone without needed nurture more frequently develop a deepened sense of feeling alienated from others, not being OK or good enough, being incomplete or living without a sense of security.
As we travel this road, we often develop a distrust for others as we doubt and question our own worth, abilities and hope for the future. We often live life with a sense of confusion, contempt and conflict.
Unmet needs seek completion. If we don’t receive what we need by abiding with normative behaviour, we will express our needs through acting-out behaviours. Either way, we will attempt to receive what we have not been given.
The shadow aspect of human behaviour
Donald Trump is an example of someone whose needs for attachment and boundary establishment were not met. How can we know this? We need only to listen and observe his words and behaviours, to know that he exists on an empty fuel tank regarding the needs and feelings of others.
For example, he often treats people poorly, by making cruel, crass comments like, “Who would vote for a face like that?” At one point, during a press conference, he mocked and ridiculed a handicapped reporter who was asking him questions.
His treatment of immigrant children is without empathy or regard for their need to be reunited with their parents; for a place to sleep, other than on a concrete floor; and for appropriate food to eat, water to drink and proper body hygiene.
In Trump, these immigrants come face-to-face with the brutality of the supposed leader of the country that professes to be the land of the free.
His attitude towards these immigrant children’s suffering—due to being separated from their parents and held in cages—is, ‘if they don’t want to suffer like this, they should not cross the border and come to the United States in the first place.’
He uses this sadistic behaviour as a deterrent to keep away families who are fleeing death and brutality at the hands of criminals and corrupt politicians in their homeland.
In Trump, these immigrants come face-to-face with the brutality of the supposed leader of the country that professes to be the land of the free; where all are created equal and have inalienable rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of fulfillment; a country that was founded by immigrants who were fleeing tyranny and religious persecution; a land that, for over 200 years, has been enriched and sustained by people from other lands.
Trump is a living paradox, being at odds with the very principles and qualities he is supposed to support and defend.
When people like Trump have not been able to experience love, emotional nurturance and security, they become alienated from their inner human essence: their capacity for awareness, compassion and human kindness. As a consequence, they often treat others as a means to an end, rather than as human beings who have needs and feelings, who are fellow members of the human family.
Most recently, Trump’s arbitrary abandonment of the Kurds, who have been our allies in fighting against ISIS, is another example of his ‘use ’em and lose ’em’ disregard for human life.
Donald Trump’s emptiness and pain are often demonstrated by his quest for pushing against boundaries and limits. He provokes and violates normative behaviours as a way of life, and will continue to do so until he finally runs into a wall of reality that forces him out of his make-believe and delusional world.
What is especially sad is that his life trajectory has included the disregard for and hurting of others, in his quest to experience the limits that were not set for him in his formative years.
Trump is an example of the shadow aspect or underbelly of human behaviour. His words and behaviour have plunged all of us into collective chaos and division as a body politic. He has truly become the insensitive, sadistic, delusional, ‘me first,’ ‘ugly American.’
We shall overcome
His need for limits has finally brought him into a confrontation with the Constitution of the United States. His karma, however, seems to be catching up with him. He is reaping what he has sown. And, we, the people, have been made stronger, as we have met the challenges that his example and his place in our society have presented us with.
As the gospel song proclaims, “Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe… We shall overcome someday.”