On the Road to DC: Philadelphia, PA — In Philadelphia we met with a lively group of middle-to-upper-class folks, many of whom had undergone the training offered by the Landmark Forum. I asked how they see the current situation in our country, their role in creating it, and what are our opportunities for moving forward. Here are a few edited excerpts from their responses.
As you look at America today, how do you think we get here? What created this outcome?
“It seems to me that there’s been a systematic, intentional obfuscation of reality in our country and, who knows, maybe in the world, in order to dominate and to secure selfish outcomes, rather than truly live for community.”
“What I see is a lot of division. I travel out to the Adirondacks’ every year, into the backcountry of New York State. Those people are suffering out there; living lives on the edges of desperation. They’ve not been listened to; no one’ s heard them. Instead the world’s trying to sell them things that they will never, ever in their hearts believe they can have. So, there’s a disconnect.”
What was your role in creating this outcome ?
“I’m consumed with the busyness of my life, in order to achieve the goals that I’m committed to. But it doesn’t attend, in any way, to the disaffected of this world. And I probably have been completely asleep about interpersonal charity. Yeah, I give money for things; but interpersonal charity, I don’t participate at all in that. I don’t get together with disadvantaged people, and give my time and connect in that way and live in their world. I share the resources that I have. And maybe that just comes from enjoying the benefits of privilege and being able to ignore the other stuff. I think that’s my contribution.”
“It’s almost as if, by the way things have been, by TV, we’ve been trained to think about things in a skewed way…to ignore ways of connecting, and not even try them. And that’s how the whole situation came to be, because we didn’t realize there was this half of the country that we didn’t see, didn’t interact or communicate with, or ask questions of.”
What’s our opportunity moving forward?
“What came up for me is the concept of making contact, so that our alliances are human and not ideological. The opportunity is to subdue the ideological concerns we all have, and try to receive information and receive emotion so that we bond with each other, and create alliances that are human alliances.”
“In the past, who the president was really didn’t affect me. But now I see that this might be a Godsend to have someone like Trump in the presidency because there are so many of us who are getting together, really being activists, making declarations that are positive and forward and about change, and I think in a lot of ways, there’s no way this would have happened if Hillary had gotten elected president. There’s just no way.”
“I’ve been joking with people that Trump is gonna bring all of together, and then he’s going to claim credit for it. ‘I’m the only one that could have done this! The only one who could have brought the country together!’“
Last question: What do you feel called to do in response to this moment.
“The system through which we express ourselves is probably not going to change any time soon. So for me the thing to do is just be counted, to make sure I’m counted for where I stand vis. a vis. the system. So being more vocal than I’ve been before, showing up at places to be counted.”
“For me, what I’m called to do is be with my community. Taking action almost has no meaning if I’m doing it by myself. I’ve signed so many petitions, made so many calls, I don’t even believe they’re counted let alone listened to, or read. But if I have a community I can be with, and they empower me and I empower them, then I think I can do it.”
“I’ve heard it said that if you want something to change, you have to wait for the people who represent the status quo to just die. So I think the answer is, to instill in my two kids the values and let them and their generation figure out the means by which they accomplish the necessary goals. I think that’s where the language is going to come from, that’s where the messaging is going to come from, and that’s where the motivation is going to come from. To create this world we want to see is to empower the young people to create it.”
“What I see for me to do is love Trump. Love him. Really come from the heart and love, not so much what he does, that’s really not what it’s about, but really loving the human being. And it’s loving all of it, you know? I just feel like there’s an opportunity like never before for more and more of us to come from that really high place.”