The politics of hope and ego


Something is afoot. I’m glad I have a chance to be on sabbatical in America during this tumultuous election process. A huge wave of consciousness change seems to be manifesting here, perhaps far greater than the tsunami-like wave of psychic transformation that shook, engulfed and began to subtly permeate the developed world in the 1960s. After 50 years of bubbling and percolation, we now have more than tantalising aromas. The brew is available everywhere and ready to drink. The brew is called hope.

Essentially, politicians are dealers in hope. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have both, in their own ways, been telling their respective audiences that it is okay to not only long for but even to demand the kind of world that they (we) (I) want. In other words, they have been sparking hope in people who until now have have been without hope that the political system is responsive to their (our) (my) aspirations.

Hope is good for people. Very good. The trouble is, we confuse the hope with the messenger(s). We also confuse it with the forms: the language, the images that the messengers create for us, the policy possibilities they dangle before us. Hope itself is inside of us. It has always been there. As the saying goes, “where there is life there is hope. ” This doesn’t have to be taken at its lowest common denominator: that even though we are just about surviving we still have a right to hope. Rather, we can choose to understand that life and hope are an indivisible unit. Someone outside of ourselves — it doesn’t have to be a Donald or a Bernie or a Hillary — can stir it, invite it to come out to play.  But it is up to each one of us to own this hope. And that means that it is up to each one of us to realise our unique power. Realise our own greatness, actually.

With the canny eye for opportunity of a seasoned political operator, Hillary is able to lay claim to the bright light of hope that is flaming across the land. Yes, she has for a long time been encouraging people to light a few matches. But she long ago lost the simple understanding that the purpose of a match is to light and kindle a fire. Such are the lessons of “real” political experience. Ironically she can now say, with real conviction (because it is so obvious) that “this is our moment.”

Donald is very interesting. Essentially he is saying to us, “Look, the whole system is corrupt. How do I know this? Because I have been a successful manipulator of this corrupt system, without breaking the law. Because I am a master of (kevmark: what I call) legal cheating I am the best person in a position to put an end to cheating.”

It’s unfair to depict the man as a “cheat,” but it is a reductionism helps to make more clearly the points that follow.  (kevmark: 5 weeks after posting this I don’t think it’s unfair to depict him as a cheat.)  Many of us decry the way Donald is willing to drum up hatred if it strengthens his position, but at the same time many of us sense his pragmatism and intelligence. He is a consummate con artist, a real genius at what he does, rendered attractive at times by his total freedom from what he has said or done in the past.  This is a freedom that allows him to embrace the moment, and is one factor that helps us to understand his charisma or scarisma.

If “cheating” is the name of the game and is justified by the fact that everyone does it, why should Donald be averse to “cheating” the anger of those who voted for him once he gets into office by no longer pandering to it. After all, doesn’t he need to be presidential, a unifying force?Indeed, he is much more than a “cheat. ” He is enjoying the energy that comes with embodying the hopes of a great many people. What a powerful drug this must be! Perhaps Donald’s project now is to use his supreme mastery of “cheating” as a platform that will enable him to escape from the fate of forever being a cheat: to use his present position to launch himself into the position of being the most effective and selfless leader we have ever seen. What a reality TV show it would be for us to witness such an outer and inner transformation: redeemed by becoming President!

It might be nice if this played out, but it seems more likely that, in the absence of experience of how “inner” and “outer” transformation” are in a symbiotic relationship, Donald will likely confuse the outer status of being transformed into President with the inner transformation needed for him to effectively help to usher in an era of  transformation.

Hillary, if she is ever to be a successful and effective President, will owe her success to being emboldened by Bernie’s success. She will be able to claim to be the leader of the huge movement that she hadn’t noticed till she saw Bernie riding on it, but if she believes the claim she will weaken herself. Bernie may be comparatively lacking in cunning and and sparkle; his political vocabulary may be limited and he may exaggerate or repeat himself,  but his incredible energy and persistence are driven by obvious sincerity and humility. He understands that he is the spokesperson for — not the leader or bestower of— the hope for transformation that we have seen grow into a powerful movement. Give me Bernie’s ego any time over that of Donald or Hillary.

If Hillary rises to the Presidency, it will be because Bernie Sanders brought to our attention the widespread hope for radical change that she, as an experienced politician, thought it was foolish to hope for. She may be about to drink from this powerful brew that has been served before her. And she herself may even be a better candidate for inner transformation than Donald. God knows her ego has been hammered!

Whatever happens, it is is the hope, effort and love of individuals that will bring about the change that some may claim to bring. Thanks for helping to make this clear, Bernie!

November 2016 — He won!

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The challenge, once hope has been stirred and awakened, is not to let go of it. We can choose to let setbacks make us stronger!


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