Like many, I was shocked at Friday’s executive order banning travel into our country from seven Muslim nations. I was so shocked I wrote a blog post yesterday about how this violates the very foundation of what our country has always stood for. My blog was a call to action for “We the People“, a Kali-esque attempt to remind us that we as a country have the opportunity to stand for love, unity, and equality of all beings.
I’m not one to get seduced by conspiracy theories. They usually strike me as breeding fear and fueling the story of separation—us versus them, the good guys against the bad guys. But what if my blog was part of a strategic plan by the new administration to divide and disempower We the People? What if I was playing right into a trap set by a regime that is strategically positioning to dismantle the checks and balances built into my beloved country, the ones intended to protect us from a dictatorship or make us vulnerable to fascism?
According to one history professor, this is exactly how regimes take over a country—by engaging in a “shock event” like the one we’re still reeling from. What if this is what the new administration actually wants—a shocked, divided nation tearing each other apart? What if my blog just fed right into the new administration’s plan, creating more “us” versus “them,” in spite of my best efforts to call us to come together as One? What if Trump voters who support the immigration ban, people who have strong feelings about protecting our borders, making American well-being the #1 priority, and keeping out the terrorists, get triggered and angry when someone like me quotes the Declaration of Independence and challenges a move like the immigration ban?
What if this is the whole point—to get us riled up and divided into the “right” side and the “wrong” side, the “moral” side and the “immoral” side, the “love” side and the “unloving” side? A divided nation is a disempowered one. In order to collapse a long-standing democracy enough to allow a hostile takeover by a regime that might be positioning to establish a white, patriarchal, “Christian” corporatocracy, you have to divide We the People along such hate-filled, separatist lines that they cannot come together powerfully enough to prevent the collapse of democracy.
Now is when we come together, beloveds. We need to stop the “us” versus “them.” We are them. They are us. Let’s not let anything pull us apart, not even a shocking executive order meant to destabilize our power as a collective.
A Shock Event
This morning, my friend Casi in Bali sent me this blog post—The Immigration Ban Is a Headfake, and We’re Falling for It.
I sent the article to my ex-husband Matt, and he sent me this post from Heather Richardson, professor of History at Boston College:
I don’t like to talk about politics on Facebook—political history is my job, after all—but there is an important non-partisan point to make today.
What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries—is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order.
When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the partisan lines established by the shock event.
Last night’s Executive Order has all the hallmarks of a shock event. It was not reviewed by any governmental agencies or lawyers before it was released, and counterterrorism experts insist they did not ask for it. People charged with enforcing it got no instructions about how to do so. Courts immediately have declared parts of it unconstitutional, but border police in some airports are refusing to stop enforcing it.
Predictably, chaos has followed and tempers are hot.
My point today is this: unless you are the person setting it up, it is in no one’s interest to play the shock event game. It is designed explicitly to divide people who might otherwise come together so they cannot stand against something its authors think they won’t like.
I don’t know what Bannon is up to—although I have some guesses—but because I know Bannon’s ideas well, I am positive that there is not a single person whom I consider a friend on either side of the aisle—and my friends range pretty widely—who will benefit from whatever it is.
If the shock event strategy works, though, many of you will blame each other, rather than Bannon, for the fallout. And the country will have been tricked into accepting their real goal.
But because shock events destabilize a society, they can also be used positively. We do not have to respond along old fault lines. We could just as easily reorganize into a different pattern that threatens the people who sparked the event.
A successful shock event depends on speed and chaos because it requires knee-jerk reactions so that people divide along established lines. This, for example, is how Confederate leaders railroaded the initial southern states out of the Union.
If people realize they are being played, though, they can reach across old lines and reorganize to challenge the leaders who are pulling the strings. This was Lincoln’s strategy when he joined together Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers, anti-Nebraska voters, and nativists into the new Republican Party to stand against the Slave Power.
Five years before, such a coalition would have been unimaginable. Members of those groups agreed on very little other than that they wanted all Americans to have equal economic opportunity. Once they began to work together to promote a fair economic system, though, they found much common ground. They ended up rededicating the nation to a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Confederate leaders and Lincoln both knew about the political potential of a shock event. As we are in the midst of one, it seems worth noting that Lincoln seemed to have the better idea about how to use it.
Let’s Transmute This Shock Event into a Love Revolution
I’m not saying don’t protest or stand up for what you believe. Go ahead. Protest if that feels right. But don’t judge those who support the immigration ban. Get curious about them. Ask them “What hurts?” Ask “What is it like to be you?” Open your heart. Try to understand why they want to keep immigrants out. See if you can feel what it feels like to be someone who supports the immigration ban. Or if you’re in support of the ban, see what it feels like to be an immigrant with a green card who lives in the United States and can’t get back into the country where she lives. Try to stretch yourself, rather than defending your position and getting righteous about your position.
Yes, I am shocked and appalled about the immigration ban, and yes, I felt like it was important to write about it yesterday. But let’s not let anyone smoke screen us into believing we are separate. We need each other. We need all of us. Nobody gets left out of a love revolution. Everybody is invited. Everyone is deserving of love.
We need to stop the war language, the us versus them, the good guys against the bad guys. If we stay in that consciousness and cannot come together to transcend it, we all lose. Hate prevails.
Nothing is more powerful than the open heart. Love transcends all division.
Words of Wisdom from the Elders of the Hopi Nation
The elders of the Hopi nation just released this statement:
To my fellow swimmers:
Here is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid, who will try to hold on to the shore.
They are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore.
Push off into the middle of the river, and keep our heads above water.
And I say see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. For we are the ones we have been waiting for.
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