As I’ve been sitting watching history unfold whilst Donald Trump is elected the next President of the United States my absolute knowing of the need for Conscious Leadership in the World is never more urgent. Unfolding too are ‘The Many Faces of Change’ and the great need to really look behind the term, concept and implications that ‘change’ can have on peoples lives. To really consciously explore what ‘Change’ means and the kind of ‘Change’ we want to see in the World’.
This US Presidential Election result has key echoes of the Brexit vote in the UK last June where people feeling disenfranchised and with a major disconnect from mainstream establishment politics came out in huge numbers to vote. The vacuum that was created and left from the fall out of the Global Economic Downturn, resulting in major job losses and hurling millions of people into poverty all across America was not heard across the American ‘Establishment’ and mainstream Media. And the US Presidential Election result is what can happen when people who feel ‘unheard’ come out in great numbers.
In these circumstances people are looking for someone to re-ignite them, and if they have lost trust in those to whom they once would have turned for help and don’t find it, then the danger is, that if an alternative turns up and says what they want, and need to hear, then although this alternative is not in many of their hearts something they would normally espouse, people in their most vulnerable times look to having their basic needs met and if someone offers them this, along with the promise of a brighter day, they can be swayed to go with that person.
The deep concern is that this ‘alternative’ can also cause great divisions between ordinary people and if the rhetoric is powerful enough, then those that thrive on hate and division begin to align themselves along with what are real social issues, to promote their own agenda, resulting in a ‘them and us’ set of scenarios and ugly toxic manipulation under the guise of ‘making things ‘GREAT AGAIN’. If we look closely we can recognise this as familiar to what brought about previous hateful and divisive xenophobic policies, resulting in shocking consequences for millions of men, women and children.
There are many reasons why people have chosen to vote this way and the complex issues and questions remain to be dealt with in communities all across America, UK, Europe and World. One thing that is certain is that people who feel that the ‘Establishment’ has made them directly bear the brunt of the Global Economic Downturn, who have lost jobs, are suffering great poverty, and have to live with the fall out of crippling huge austerity measures in their everyday lives, have come out of the shadows to voice their anger.
Amid the surfacing of racism, xenophobia and misguided nationalism both in Brexit and the US Presidential Election, there are also many people who voted who were simply looking for a real alternative to what they view as the ‘political elite’ who they feel have ‘forgotten’ them, who have not listened to their everyday needs and actually have imposed huge austerity on them while those who caused the problems so often were not held accountable. Where money, power and greed were put before, and given more attention then ordinary people’s lives.
It is important to remember that while racism and xenophobia shows an ugly side of both the Brexit Referendum and the US Presidential Election, many people’s disenchantment with the ‘status quo’ and their choice to vote anti-establishment is also borne under the burden of huge social deprivation and huge fear for the future for themselves and their families.
Both dreams and nightmares for many people have become one and same. They feel forgotten by mainstream politics and feel left behind by the ever growing division between the haves and have nots. The gap has widened tremendously between rich and poor over the last eight years of unprecedented recession. Many people in their everyday lives see nothing of the ‘green shoots of recovery’.
So while politicians love to tell us that the recession is over and we are now in ‘recovery’ in reality the recession is still impacting everyday on the lives of people in the dole queues and on the lives of those who have lost their homes, or who sleep night after night homeless on the streets of towns and cities of America, UK and Europe, on the lives of people who have to choose between eating and heating this Winter and who worry about feeding their children.
The reality is that these issues are ones which concern millions of people all across the World of all races and creeds and the irony is that in creating divisions in society between different groups of people and encouraging a narrow nationalist view and fear of difference can divert people’s attention from the real source of their exploitation. Thus turning them on each other and blaming each other for taking jobs, houses and health service and school places etc. Such division actually serves to keep the wheels of greed, power and ‘elitism’ turning for the ‘privileged few’.
In a divisive and fractured US, amid a sea of uncertainties, what is certain now is that there are a number of key critical issues that must be addressed. As Trump has chosen to defy the mainstream by being elected without any track record in politics it remains to be seen how this will play itself out in the corridors of power and how this impacts on the everyday lives of people who have come out calling for change. Change in the shape of jobs, opportunity and rebuilding of communities decimated by the financial downturn.
The fears of course are the dangers of xenophobia, this awful fear of difference, with the deep divisions that exist already and the divisive rhetoric of wall building etc. How these deep rifts can be healed is deeply concerning. It is unity and finding common ground that is urgently needed and building bridges across the divides of what is a very angry flow and torrent of toxicity.
As a consequence the narrative of the causes and effects of what has brought the World to this place in 2016 will be analysed over and over on media platforms. However, what has and is being learned from it, is essential to explore along with the tensions, conflicts and deep feelings and emotions that have created the outcomes of both Brexit and the US Presidential Election results.
.As disenchantment, fear and anger can soon become dangerous divisive emotions negatively unleashed in society. Which can cause people to shift their gaze from what essentially unites them and onto what divides them. What is required are Conscious Conversations and Active/Global Citizenship to channel this energy into positive change. We must work harder to ensure that the voices of people who feel unheard and forgotten are listened to and acknowledged and really supported by those who govern.
AS WE take a deep breath and move forward in hope, at this very critical time in the World may WE acknowledge and absorb the changes taking place with an awakening that inspires kindness and humanity. May we reach across the divides to connect heart to heart with what unites us in our humanity and build Conscious Communities, as we hold steadfast to creating and building a better World for ALL.
Bernadette Phillips is Founder of New Insights For Change, she is a Sociologist, Social Entrepreneur, Writer and blogger.