While the couple tallied the ballots, I noticed Dan turn to Jennifer with an amused smile and quietly say, “Someone has written Trump, hahaha!” At the end of the session I approached them and confessed that “someone” was me. I explained that I wrote Trump not as my hope, but as my concern. I shared with them that I was born in Iran and have lost my homeland; democracy and freedom mean so much to me. I noted that when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for governor of California, guests at the Ranch would ask, “How do you feel about your potential governor?” My response to them was, “Arnold? Oh no, we are Californians–educated, open minded, progressive people; that would never happen!” Well it DID happen. Later, when Jessie Ventura ran as the governor of Minnesota, it was unthinkable, yet it became reality.
Fast forward and see the election of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Philippines–a vulgar bully who was elected as a rebellion against corrupt politicians. We then witness Brexit, where many people knew what they did not want, but had no idea of what they wanted. It is clear that more and more people are disillusioned with the status quo. The system is broken and they want an alternative. The politicians have failed them and their fellow citizens are not listening to them. So why not risk it and go for the unknown? Anything is better than the current status!
Why this is happening? Many of my students are asking this question and seeking advice on how to properly respond as reflective, intellectual, and spiritual beings.
“Our leaders represent the consciousness of the masses,” Swami Veda said. I believe this is happening because as a society we are disconnected. As social creatures we need to connect and communicate with each other. We do not communicate with each other and when we do, it is reduced to a tweet or a sound bite. Our social and economical issues are too complex to be discussed and solved in a single sentence.
Our “communication” is replaced by “broadcasting.” Each side gets their “facts” from a broadcast company whose allegiance is to their ratings and stockholders. This makes us even more disconnected and estranged from one another. As we stop communicating with each other, we become disengaged and strangers.
As human beings we need to be heard. We need to be listened to. Where there is no communication, separation begins and trust erodes. Our society today is at its lowest level of trust since measuring began in the mid-seventies. At that time the trust level in our society was close to 70% and we were in the top ten among all the nations. Today in United States, two-thirds of the population do not trust their neighbors; internationally we rank in the bottom ten.
As it goes in our society, we have lost trust in our politicians and our government. Hence when someone rises up as an anti-establishment candidate, many see it as our only hope. Politicians have failed us so we need another refuge. This is why we see what see in the world.
When we listen poorly or not at all, we have gaps in communication that can have costly results. Communication creates connection and fosters understanding. Ralph Nichols, the founder of the International Listening Association, said “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand people and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”
The Law of Communication is a pillar of Enlightened Negotiation. I hope you heard me, and more importantly, I hope you listened to me. Now please let me hear you and listen to what you have to say. I promise to listen to you and understand you. To get in touch, please contact me.