On a sunny Saturday, my husband is walking a few feet in front of me when we see a hiker coming around the corner, so we lift our facemasks over our noses. The beefy looking, maskless, young man leads his two dogs past my husband and says, “Don’t worry, I won’t kiss you.” My husband felt surprised and in a sarcastic tone responded, “Thank you”. My spirit darkened as I frowned, looked at my feet, and kicked at beige dirt and pebbles. My head spun with angry judgment about the man. He is clearly an “anti-masker” and probably a white nationalist, like the radicals who stormed the Capital a few weeks ago and are threatening a Civil War. I caught up with my husband to get his reaction. He said, “I felt surprised at his sarcasm, then angry and then judgmental.” My mind swirled with news we had heard right before our hike. A white Capitol policeman had said to one of the insurrectionists as they breached the Capitol, “This House is yours now” and gave him a hug. Fear rose in my heart as I thought about the shaky future of our nation and how we got to this point.
Trump had said, “It was a landslide victory, the biggest win ever - that was stolen from us.” I jerk my head backward when I hear the level of distortion Trump carries around with him. He lost the vote in a fair election. Trump cannot and will not ever admit failure because it challenges his false image of being the smartest, strongest and most powerful. He has to be the victor. Why? Each of us has failures, which often become experiences of learning. Why can’t Trump accept the reality that he lost? It is because he is a Narcissist.
Narcissus looked in the lake and fell in love with his own reflection. The reflection is an image. Trump’s image is of a superior man of power and strength. Losing the election was like a wrecking ball that knocked Trump off his cement pedestal. And, like the confederate statues that were recently bulldozed, he crumbled into a million pieces. Narcissists were never mirrored, never allowed to fail and still be cared for, so they challenge every possible descent off that pedestal. Trump denied his loss and puffed up more into his image.
He made himself the victim (of an election stolen by illegal votes) and charmed his followers into rescuing him by “fighting for your country.” Some of them feel “their” country is being taken over. They have been gorging on a diet of White nationalism for five Trumpian years, are terrified of diversity, suspicious of democracy and have become a mob. This is the poison Trump has unleashed upon the land that has led to this moment. All this was storming through my head on my hike.
It took ten more minutes of walking in silence before I looked up to see that the sky was bright blue and that the sage smelled good. I inhaled the calming scent to help regain my composure, my sense of equanimity.
Equanimity is about having a soft front and a strong back. I take that to mean that we need compassion for ourselves and others, but also we need to be strong and stand up for ourselves. We cannot let fear make us flee and freeze, so that America loses its soul to the distorted narcissistic poison of Trumpism. We have to stand up and take back the house. That starts with going ahead with the outdoor inauguration of the Biden-Harris team on January 20th.
Even though 25,000 troops have been deployed against heightened security threats on inauguration day, Joe Biden said, “I am not afraid”. Asked why it is important to continue the inaugural tradition of being sworn in outside, Kamala Harris said, “I think that we cannot yield to those who would try and make us afraid of who we are.” It is that kind of strength, in the face of violent opposition, that gives me hope that good will prevail and this country might survive intact.