As Mueller investigates possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump’s team has launched a fierce counteroffensive. The counterattack is a thinly veiled disinformation campaign, intended to obfuscate, discredit, and, if possible, dismantle the Mueller investigation. And it is working; Trump has successfully sowed doubt amongst many. In the battle of public relations, truth has been the first causality.
We may feel we are living in a post-truth world; but the good news is that a larger truth is being gestated. Our American values and institutions are being challenged in unprecedented ways and could even be destroyed; but We The People cannot let this happen. We must reconnect with and renew our values so they are stronger than ever before. The first step is to see clearly what is happening; the second is to use that awareness to transform this moment in history.
Whether or not there has been collusion between Trump and Russia is almost beside the point; for Russia’s espionage and the Trump presidency have already attained their shared objective: chaotic disruption of the American and world political systems. Under the Trump administration, American allies have been routinely taken aback by unilateral actions of the United States. This began with withdrawal from the Paris climate accords coupled with softening of support for NATO; it continued with withdrawal from the multi-lateral TPP and Iran agreements; the sudden announcement moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem; and most recently the on again/off again Korea summit. Domestically, the administration attempted to end the Affordable Care Act while rolling back a host of environmental regulations designed to protect our health and well-being, and ended DACA while cracking down on illegal immigration in other cruel and unusual ways.
The country is as divided now—by race; ethnicity; region; class; education; religion; and gender—as at any time in our nation’s history. We seem to be reliving, or at least relitigating, the Civil War. This is because we are witnessing an unveiling of our country’s collective shadow. Trump is a catalyst for this, as his extreme narcissism makes him vulnerable to being used by the collective national shadow. The more unconscious one is, the more vulnerable to possession by shadow energies.
The manifestation of this collective shadow is often shocking, but ultimately, it may be both necessary and good. By allowing us to see America as it really is, we have an opportunity to change, moving toward greater resolution and healing. We no longer hide behind the flowery rhetoric that tells us we are more evolved than we in fact are. Seen in this light, the Trump administration is performing a sacred shamanic function: destruction of the status quo as a first step toward renewal and re-creation. The threat to our cherished values and institutions is forcing us to rediscover who we are and what we stand for. This is an opportunity to reconstruct our country’s foundations at a higher level of consciousness and commitment.
Trump is not the cause of our shadow, but the product of it. Some of the issues now resurfacing began stirring during the Obama presidency; and their roots are from long ago. Repressed racism in America began to resurface dramatically during Obama’s presidency because the election of a black man apparently was too much to bear for certain segments of the white population.
Trump sensed this opportunity and took full advantage, giving license to the venting of old wounds. Trump and his minions have, in effect, recreated a populism tinged with racism not seen since the Andrew Jackson presidency. Jackson, incredibly, was seen as progressive in his day, extending suffrage to all white males (not just white, male property owners). The first president who did not come from the aristocracy, Jackson was the champion of the “common man,” so long as that person was male and white. Dubbed “Sharp Knife” by the Cherokee, Jackson’s Indian Removal Act undertook ethnic cleansing on a massive scale, killing or relocating the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations and igniting the so-called “Indian Wars,” a systematic assault upon and removal of Natives from their lands which continued throughout the 19th century.
This sordid period of American history has been either rationalized as inevitable or suppressed from our cultural memory altogether. But the most insidious result of the Indian Wars is the suppression of the influence that Native America had on our country from the very beginning. When we went to full-scale war against Native America, we dehumanized our enemy; and, in so doing, selectively forgot that it was the living example of equality amongst Native American tribes (particularly amongst the Iroquois [Haudenosaunee] Confederacy) that inspired our founding fathers to write those lofty words in the Declaration of Independence: that all men are created equal. In fact, many of our most cherished precepts were adopted from the living example set by the Iroquois and other northeastern tribes, beginning with the very concept of uniting separate nations, or states, into a larger entity. The model for this was the Iroquois Confederacy, and the Articles of Confederation, our original founding document prior to the Constitution, was an articulation of the model of governance they had seen successfully enacted by the Haudenosaunee. Additional core principles, such as the concepts of natural rights, egalitarian democracy, and personal liberty were all inspired by direct encounters with real Native American societies.
It is important to note that these were not merely political concepts, but deeply spiritual principles, arising from a deep understanding of nature and a practical, lived understanding of how things work in the natural world. It was based in an empirical, working knowledge of the radical interrelatedness of all things in nature, including all humans.
Modern historians point to a dichotomy in the American psyche between equality and property, but few trace this opposition back to its roots: the encounter between Native American and European cultures. The European settlers brought with them a well-developed concept of property, but little experience of equality. It was Native America that taught us virtually everything we know about equality, even as Natives had little or no concept of property. The ongoing struggle between equality and property is simply a continuation of this initial meeting of worldviews.
When this great nation took root, it did so based on a hybrid of European and Native American values—and it was once understood that this was what it meant to be an American. Unfortunately, the values we incorporated from Native America—such as liberty and equality—were only half-baked at our inception. Our founding fathers either did not fully understand or deliberately chose to only implement certain aspects of equality practiced in Native American societies. When it came to full and equal participation in governance, they left out women and people of color. They were not without foresight, however. When they included the prescient phrase “to form a more perfect union” in the preamble to the Constitution they signaled an awareness that the union would continue to evolve, and that a greater unfolding of equality was yet to come.
It was our lust for land—propelled by the notion of private property and the concept of Manifest Destiny—that precipitated the Indian Wars; but unbeknownst to the 19th century warmongers, these wars were also an attack on our own spiritual and political heritage. As horrific as those wars were, we never completely destroyed that heritage, just as we never completely destroyed our Native American brothers and sisters. The original wisdom of this land—a wisdom that spoke to and through our Native American brethren—is still present today. The concept of Manifest Destiny did not, could not, expunge that greater idea: the radical interrelatedness that infuses the very soil, air, and waters of this fruited plain. It is this underlying value of Unity in Diversity that is America’s sacred purpose. I do not know how long it will take for America to reach this higher vision. It could be millennia. But manifest it will, as a future society based on radical inclusion, peace, and harmony is our true manifest destiny.