Why The Gods Are Smiling

Even with tears in their eyes, the gods have been smiling for weeks at the Great Mess triggered by our choice of president.  That’s what gods do when they recognize that we, in our sleep, have created for ourselves an opportunity bordering on demand to address the question: Who will I be or die trying?

Yes, we’re in for some gruesome times.  Military occupation of Manhattan if that’s what it takes to get Saturday Night Live off the air?  Who would bet the farm against it?  Our problem isn’t that Trump is malevolent.  He’s far more dangerous than that.  He’s absent.  The way a drug addict is absent.  The way a sociopath is absent.  The way “A stiff prick knows no conscience” is absent.  And that absence, that absence of humility, sincerity, empathy, that absence of even a sense of humor, has become a void of integrity in which some of our culture’s nastiest instincts are flourishing.

Even we who know this may wonder why it might cause the gods to smile.

The Big Picture.  Knowing that a nation lives, not by its material achievements, but in its masterpieces of men and women.  Having witnessed since forever how threats of profound harm are reminders that commitments have virtually no value until they are aligned with action.  Recognizing that Trump is Santa Claus for anyone whose answer to the “Who will I be…?” question is: “Bring my very best self to whatever life presents.”  This is among the big enchiladas of human aspiration.  And the fact that Trump (unbeknownst to him, of course) can help us achieve it––just tickles the gods no end.

Many of us find it difficult to rise above the pain Trump’s presence has instigated, and pain unmanaged becomes anger in any of its many faces.  Resisting what Trump represents from a place of anger may be the best we can do at times, but as a long-term strategy, we know in our heart, it’s unrewarding.  Anger eats us alive, like any narcotic used habitually.  It’s a cheap thrill that turns us dry, brittle, tight, shrill––it turns us into Trump.  Worse, we convince ourselves that we’re not responsible for our anger, our blame, our resentment, our hatred, our cynicism, that indeed we’re the victim here, for crying out loud.  If it weren’t for that jerk, we’d be singin’ in the rain.  Sadly, when we hold others, or outside circumstances, responsible for our happiness or lack of it, heartache is the only sure outcome.  As they say in the addiction trade, victims never recover.

Our anger may help get Trump out of office (after all, anger got him elected), but it will never heal the nation, or, more importantly, nurture our very best self.  Only love allows us to put our heart and soul in service of a noble ambition––living those qualities that include humility, sincerity, empathy and humor––without diminishing our efforts, and ourselves, with the drug of animosity.  It’s heartening that yesterday’s worldwide protest of women against Trump was called by many “an uprising of love.”

In the stunningly beautiful book, “Walking With The Wind, A Memoir of the Movement,” by John Lewis, civil rights leader and Congressman from Georgia, Mr. Lewis writes: “If you want to create an open society, your means of doing so must be consistent with the society you want to create.  Means and ends are absolutely inseparable.  Violence begets violence.  Hatred begets hatred.  Anger begets anger, every minute of the day, in the smallest of moments as well as the largest.”  This gives you a clue why Mr. Lewis declined to attend Trump’s inauguration.

There is so much we can learn about ourselves through our relationship with Trump, but if appreciating, and taking action to reduce, the abuse we inflict on ourselves and others by our anger, our unmanaged fear, were the only lesson we learned in this lifetime, we’d be well on our way to sainthood.  We’d be growing a peaceful heart, the most powerful place from which to meet, and heal, the pain of the world.

This is why the gods are smiling.


  1. susan dollenmaier said:
    I was a part of the nascent women’s “movement” of the 60’s. It feels as though it is an idea whose time has come in the most literal sense. Surely this is the first time that a worldwide movement of women and their supporters came together peacefully and with love in their hearts. If it took the election of DT to accomplish this, then so be it. I said to my sister, two weeks before the election, “I almost want Trump to win because we need a wake up call” Thanks, Steve.

  2. David Dibble said:
    Hi Steve, As you know, I’ve been an admirer of your work and words for many years. Your words, in my experience, are always timely, useful, many times profound and most importantly, consciously evolved. I believe you’ve hit the nail squarely in describing the big picture/opportunity of a Trump presidency. I was discussing with a friend this topic and brought up the Law of Dissipative Structures as a universal law at work that describes what happens to systems that resist change in a changing environment. Simply, the systems become more and more stressed until they fly into chaos and later reform into completely new systems that can handle the existing energy in the changed environment. Trump is, I believe, the catalyst who will, unconsciously, add the fuel/stress to the current seemingly intractable systems we experience as control/fear/materialism. This creates an opportunity for at least a partial “reorder.” Our job appears to be twofold. First, expanding our consciousness on an individual level and second, joining with other kindred spirits to produce synergies in the creation of the transformed systems that must be a part of the evolution of human consciousness. We must remember that the degree of change in the human mind is in some way proportional to the emotional content of the experience. This is why great change, both personal and for groups, almost always occur in stressful times the mind defines as crisis. Trump is our crisis. Now we must be true to our higher Selves in the creation of new systems based upon love, compassion and inclusion. I’ve gone on long enough but wanted to thank you for your insightful and moving words and work. With admiration and respect, David

  3. Josie Estill said:
    Again, thank you for your thoughts, my friend. I fervently believe you’re right, and want all my friends who are suffering and afraid right now to read this. It was an honor to participate in the Women’s March in Seneca Falls yesterday, that was filled with love, and determination.

  4. lisa said:
    The idea of community and connection has been with me, in a very personal way, since the election. Surprising to many, I am an introvert, yet I am experiencing such a profoundly different experience of what’s happening depending on whether I am alone or with others. My head was ok on the 20th yet my body was having a completely different experience and I could not repress the unnamed anxiety. Then I marched yesterday and felt elated the whole day at the reality of the numbers of people who feel the way, and are in action around, the sentiments you express, Steve. It may be a long road, because every day we’ll need to be present, paying attention and choosing. But just your post, and those who have responded to it before me, are like a mini women’s march for me today. Thank you all. This is the creative moment I long for – when we realize we are at the very choice point of creating a new world, that it has never been done before, of course, and that we are doing it, by our every thought, focus, choice. Not knowing the outcome (which we truly never do) but choosing our best possible action in this very moment. And in the next. And the next. And being willing to have that be enough. Really, no wonder the gods are smiling. Blessings!

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"I honor that we are killing the earth for the same reason I consider being an alcoholic a privilege: it is a doorway to the profound self-understanding required to make truly healthy choices."

The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth