After November third: The Subsequent Three Days, Three Months, and three Years, Will Decide Our Future
On May 7, 2016, six months before the November elections, I wrote an article entitled “The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President.” I wrote at the time: “A lot of people who identify as Democrats, Republicans and Independents don’t want Donald Trump to be our next president. Despite unfavorable ratings that keep rising, millions of men and women will vote for him. “I went on to describe the underlying reasons why I believed he would be the next President of the United States and the dangers a Trump presidency would pose to the United States and the world.
We know a lot more about Donald Trump now than we did on May 7th, 2016. Here’s what I wrote and posted on the morning of November 3rd, 2020, before people went to the election to decide if Donald Trump will be reinstated would be elected or Joe Biden would be our next president:
“Today is election day … well, really, the elections and votes have been going on for some time and we may not know the results and get all the votes tabulated and counted for some time. These are times of challenge and uncertainty. What we know is this:
1. Regardless of whether Joe Biden and Kamala Harris or Donald Trump and Mike Pence win the election, about half the country will be over the moon.
2. About half of the country will feel angry, anxious, stressed, and depressed.
3. Some will feel that the election has been stolen and others will want to harm others.
4. The winners will believe they were right and the other side was wrong.
5. The losers will feel that they were right and the other side was wrong.
6. Some will feel that the America they knew died and feel so hopeless and angry that they want to destroy the remains of our country.
7. Others will feel that although something is finished, something new and even better can emerge from the ashes.
8. The United States of America is a young country ruled by young male energy (no coincidence that all of our presidents were male) with a certain macho, youthful, competitive whose tail is the greatest, pubescent spirit.
9. The election result will matter less than what Americans do when the results are in.
10. Will we stay young and immature and give each other shit out? Or do we grow up, realize that there are no easy solutions to our problems, and learn to deal with our differences. “
As I write this article, it is Friday, November 6th, 2020, three days after Election Day. Some things are clearer now and some things still need to be known. Joe Biden has small but significant leadership roles in a number of crucial states and he is likely to be our next president. What is still unknown is the end result and where we are going from here. Whatever the end results, there will be a need for healing.
I’m a marriage and family counselor, writer, and healer, and for fifty years I have specialized in helping men live fully, love deeply, and make a positive difference in the world. I have written 16 books including: The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, Male Menopause Survival: A Guide for Women and Men, and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding the 4 Top Causes of Depression and Aggression.
Much is being written about the 2020 elections. Here I want to share some ideas about masculinity and the decisions we will make over the next three months and three years, whether we support a type of masculinity that is based on dominance or one that is based on partnership.
In a recent article, “Masculinity in America: Biden, Trump, Partnership, and Domination,” I quoted Jackson Katz, Ph.D., an educator, author, and social theorist known internationally for his pioneering science and activism on matters of is gender, race and violence. In his most recent documentary, The Man Card: Politics of White Men’s Identity from Nixon to Trump, ”he says.
“Trump is a more caricatured version of masculinity – aggressive, physically tough, physically strong, never going back.”
We saw this type of masculinity in Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus. He saw wearing a mask as a sign of weakness and refused to wear one as an expression of masculine strength. When he caught the virus and got sick, he saw himself as slightly triumphant over the virus and said it wasn’t a big deal and the virus would soon go away.
Katz describes another type of masculinity exemplified by Joe Biden:
“One of Biden’s political calling cards is an expression of empathy towards the electorate and, unlike Trump, he is not afraid of showing vulnerability in public. He often tears up when he talks about his son Beau, who died in 2015. He talks about his childhood stuttering and how he worked to overcome it. He has spoken in the past about thinking about suicide after a family tragedy. He is referring to the grief he felt when his first wife and daughter died in a car accident. ”
Biden also took the arrival of the virus seriously, took precautions, listened to scientists, and saw wearing masks as a caring response to protect others from possible infections.
These two expressions of masculinity refer to two ways in which societies organize – one on the basis of domination, the other on the basis of partnership – a contrast that cultural historian and systems scientist Riane Eisler has explored for more than thirty years.
Eisler, President of the Center for Partnership Studies, says:
“The great variety of surfaces in human culture is based on two basic models of society. The first, which I call the Dominator model, is popularly known as either Patriarchy or Matriarchy – the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The second, where social relationships are primarily based on the principle of linkage rather than ranking, can best be described as the partnership model. In this model – starting with the most fundamental difference in our species between men and women – diversity is not equated with inferiority or superiority. “
In their recent book with anthropologist Douglas P. Fry, PhD, Nurturing Our Humanity: How Domination and Partnership Shape Our Brains, Lives, and Our Future, they show that our ancestors are responsible for more than 99% of our two million year old human history lived with the following partnership practices:
- General egalitarianism.
- Equality, respect and partnership between women and men.
- Non-acceptance of violence, war, abuse, cruelty and exploitation.
- Ethics that support human care and prosocial cooperation.
It was only in the last 6,000 years that people settled in one place and began to rule and exploit nature. What we have done to the natural world, we have done to ourselves. What we did to ourselves, we did to each other. As wounded, angry, and aggressive men began to dominate and exploit other men, they also began to dominate and exploit women.
The philosopher Martin Buber described two ways of treating yourself and each other. There are I-It relationships and I-Thou relationships. In relation to nature, ourselves and each other, I-It sees us as separate. Others should be used and used to our advantage. II-You see us as embroiled in a sacred community relationship. Others are to be respected and valued. As Buber says: “Love is the responsibility of an I for a you.”
One of the decisions that will be made in this election is the type of man we aim to lead over the next four years. Are we going to choose a man who will partner, I-You, practice, or will we choose one who will rule, I-It, practice?
Although there is a tendency these days to divide the world into “the good guys” and “the bad guys”, life is never that easy. If you are a Trump supporter you can be sure that you are in the group of the good guys and see Biden and his supporters in the group of the bad guys. If you are a Biden supporter you can be sure that you are in the group of the good guys and Trump and his supporters are in the group of the bad guys.
The truth is that we all have some dominance and partnership qualities within us. We all have a little Donald in us and we all have a little Joe. The question for all of us over the next three months and three years is: will we heal our wounded hearts and move towards partnership or more towards domination? The choices each of us make will determine our future.
2020 will forever be remembered as the election year when two men with different styles of masculinity offered America a choice of which leader would best represent it. It will also be remembered as the year the US, led by one man, led the world in coronavirus cases (9,932,885) and deaths (241,098). (As of November 6, 2020).
This was a year of crises. As I think about the elections and the pandemic, I am reminded that the Chinese character for “crisis” pronounced “wei-ji” is made up of two characters: the Chinese character “wei”, which means “danger”, plus the Chinese character “ji” which means “crucial opportunity, critical point, opportunity”. We will continue to face the dangers and opportunities as we advance our lives.
In the next three months and three years, no matter who is in the White House, we must work for a new future in partnership, in which we are kinder to ourselves, care more about those who voted differently than us and more understandingly of those who were so discouraged, they didn’t vote at all. We must commit to healing the wounds between whites and coloreds, between women and men, between yin and yang in each of us, and between humanity and the earth and all of its creatures, including viruses. Together we have the challenge of creating, in the words of my colleague Charles Eisenstein: “The more beautiful world that our heart knows is possible.”
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