Saturday, August 5, 2017

Winners And Losers In The Time Of Trump

I was clearing away clutter, cleaning and updating my files the other day when I came across a graphic handout on winner and loser characteristics I’d used in one of my Random House books. I had also made use of it for workshops I’d done before my blind times short circuited my career as a psychotherapist and researcher.  In the midst of my endeavor this long forgotten piece struck my eye as being more than apropos for today’s circumstances.

You can see a scanned version of the original handout below. A revised chart is now on my Exploring Your Dark Side site.

The contents of the page got me thinking about our current socio-political conditions, which, of course. are mostly under the sway of our not so esteemed president, Donald Trump.

What does it mean to be a winner in this time of Trump and Team, I asked myself. And, more personally, what does it mean for me to be a winner in this era?

I have always valued success. It is one of the prime values with which I was raised. At times, however, the reverence members of my family attach to the attainment of -- money, status, material goods -- and – please don’t forget righteousness in this list, have caused me no undue amount of distress. 

To illustrate that which my family most prizes, the following are a sampling that illustrates that, if nothing else, we marry well.

By marriage we have, in our family rank, called the “mispochah” in Yiddish, a football hall of fame inductee, an academy award winning movie star, a former Ohio State’s Attorney, a world renowned cancer researcher and surgeon, lawyers, doctors, successful entrepreneurs, my father being one of these, and many millions of dollars in collective assets.

Our family is also rife with lies, collusions and a few conspiracies. Following the lies and the money in my family will most likely lead you to enough darkness to match Donald Trump and Team. No accident, therefore, that Nixon and the Watergate break-in scandal would have drawn as much long-term interest and conscientious study from me, as it has. The whole of it, in its myriad antics, was, for me, like watching the drama of my family, being played out right before my eyes. With my mother the lead character, Nixon as her stand in!

Nonetheless I have come to establish my own values and measures for success and achievement, finding a place for myself that I can truly honor. In my system, generosity, including charitable giving, without hidden agendas (in my family there is little without these), whether of “time, talent or treasures,” ranks right up there with health, family and friendships. The projects and programs of New Horizons have always reflected this focus of mine.

In the past six months or so, however, I have witnessed almost every endeavor New Horizons has conscientiously worked to develop and refine, since I returned to work in 2006, needing to be put aside for the time being. Additionally, I have found almost every perspective I hold dear as to how people treat one another and can best progress through life, optimally, called in to question. Still, at New Horizons, we are persevering, as we seek out new ways of contributing to our various communities that best represent us in these troublesome times.

With all this going on, I should not have been surprised that I awoke this morning wondering where true winning, for me, lies in the whole scheme of current ups and downs. One of several available definitions of “win” tells us that to win is to achieve victory or finish first in a competition. Given my family background, I have long known that such a definition of winning, as this, leaves out many essentials, denoting success, by my value system. 

For example, one day when I was a young adult, I complained to my most beloved aunt, as she was extolling the virtues, ad nauseam of the family’s prized Academy Award winner, that I was getting tired of hearing about it. She retorted, as if her view was the only possible common sense way to think –
If you were making the money,  ….(anonymous) is making we’d be talking about you too!
So much for my being in a family of balanced values! 

Oh, well, by that time I ‘d gotten used to my family’s ways. Rather than being devastated by such a comment as I might have been at an earlier age, I simply shook my head in wonderment -- and -- went on my way, once again, trying to find my own set of values to live by.

I believe I have done a good job with this endeavor; defining myself, yet still being devoted to the love of my family.  With my set of principles, I authored New Horizons Possible Human, Possible Society Study, interviewing countless individuals (2011 – 2016) in search of what our collective views might show New Horizons and myself about where we might best head in future days.  This, of course, was begun in Obama’s first term as president when progress, on a national legislative level, already seemed dicey. 

(I will be writing more on the study in days to come, along with updated reflections my board and myself are taking from it though our data collecting is still incomplete.)

Today, however, my mind is more focused on sorting out what handling myself as a winner in these troubling times means for establishing my new priorities; at this time when the political has become so very personal.

The emerging professional role I discovered for myself, as I recovered from blindness and returned to mainstream life, beginning in 2006, put me in a position to take what I had learned as a psychological-sociological researcher to evolve into becoming a "psychotherapist, turned violence prevention and community development consultant and trainer." These days, however, New Horizons and I find this area of application for our collective expertise to be a depressed one.  In other words, we are almost out of work, temporarily.

Overcoming polarization and making violence obsolete are not particularly, popular endeavors right now. Instead, thanks, primarily to Donald Trump, the general public, which is our market, is immersed in a level of polarization that has little end in sight, at this time. As for making violence obsolete, do the math. Polarization might as well be bed partners with violence, especially in the era of Trump and his ceaseless provocations.

Thus, there is little room, these days, under the Trump Administration, to put New Horizons’ talents and expertise into action, except on a limited basis. 

Oh, that I might have the talent of a comedian days!

Side by side with the true reality we are facing, however, is the fact that the study of society and politics, with an emphasis on the dark side of the latter, politics, with Watergate as my base,  has ended up shaping who and what I have become, at least professionally. Herein, may lie my salvation, we think. Few people, anywhere, know more than I, systematically, how to transform the dark side of society and politics – and – have a track record doing that, albeit only within select places that might aspire to build small “zones of peace.”

Still that is something!

As Mahatma Gandhi said, regarding world peace,
We must begin by creating territorities or zones of peace where violence and deceit won’t be used.

Of course, that brings me back to my original theme here, how to be “Winners…  In The Time Of Trump.” Not a thriving enterprise for this current time and place within which we find ourselves, presently. Right now, survival of the fittest may be all we can hope for.

What to do with this bounty of mine in this time of chaos has, consequently, prompted the need for a clarification on where I, personally and professionally, stand so that my views do not tarnish the mission of New Horizons, which is, above and beyond all, unity; 

Winning for many years, now, since my return to work in 2006, has meant  succeeding at building small “zones of peace,” in various communities, faith based, civic and so forth.  At this time, however, we have seemingly a limited range of viable target groups for this activity. Among our hoped for plans; Coffee House Conversations for seniors, a group far less likely, at this time, to be politically polarized, is leading us to negotiate a series for a chain of seniors communities and involve ourselves in another project that is very mental health oriented; an area I have been rather separate from, since 1998 when I lost my eyesight.

In the midst of this, I come back to my main point for this article and its relevance for me; “Winners And Losers In The Time Of Trump.” 

Taking up the notion of physician heal thyself,” I decided, this morning as I began my day, to take just one item, for myself, on the list of winner characteristics, as posted in my recent “dark side” site: The idea of “Winner Survivors” confronting and dealing with reality, as one of their main defining characteristics.
See the updated version
of this chart here.

Certainly I am all about surviving – and – doing that as a winner is always my aim.

So, I am asking myself, today, “If I am to live my life as a winner in this time of Trump and Team, what does that look like, on a daily basis, especially when my “job description” as a violence prevention and community development trainer and consultant” is now to be relatively inactive?”

Obviously, my new “job description” includes writing, as one of its primary responsibilities. However, presently, this activity is pretty much unpaid. 

What to do? What to do, if winning is built into my nature?

Donald Trump promised more jobs and more money for his constituents. What does it mean, then, that I have all but lost mine?

There is one thing I know for sure, in the midst of chaos. 

If success and winning are values I hold to be dear, but done in a certain way that is all about character development, first and foremost, which they are, I now have plenty of opportunity to “face and deal with reality” in a manner that can attract my own, personal respect, if not anyone else’s. 

Let’s talk about “facing and dealing with reality” in turbulent times.  I have lots of stories to draw strength from already. Being blind and recovering from that ordeal is at the top my list.

How about you and your stories?

How are the challenges of Trump and Team affecting you, at this time? How is your resilience holding up?

Have you found your personal path to being a winner in these troublesome times?  If so, how did you manage this?

Let’s talk about these items, if you are up the conversation. The topic might be the start of my next online radio show on Anastasia The Storyteller.

I believe, that the conversation of “Winners And Losers In The Time Of Trump” is a topic about to unfold, here, at least for a time, until something else moves into the fore. 

I sure wish that "something" would come, soon, like a week at the beach, for starters.

I could sure use a vacation!

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