Why “A Wrinkle in Time” is an important book in these dark days of Trumpism.

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2018 book cover.

Sarah Kendzior, an expert on authoritarian states who often appears on MSNBC to talk about the Trump presidency and its similarity with other autocratic regimes, shared her thoughts with Flood Magazine   in which she uses the plot of Madeleine L’Engle’s famous 1962 young adult novel, A Wrinkle in Time, as a metaphor for the dark political days we are living in.     As a lifelong fan of L’Engle’s Newbury award-winning science-fiction/fantasy novel (and being as against Donald Trump and his regime as I am), Kendzior’s words really resonated with me:

“It’s a good book for children to read now, growing up during the Trump administration,” Sarah Kendzior told me. “The rejection of conformity, the emphasis on compassion.” She’s called IT a “fascist monster,” comparing his brainwashing of Meg’s brother Charles Wallace to the “normalization” of Trump Times. “One of the scariest lines in the book is, ‘Just relax.’ Just give in, we’ll take care of you. Relaxing is much easier than trying to combat IT. That’s what happened to us as a nation—people had faith in institutions and checks and balances, but it comes down to individuals’ willingness to uphold those things,” Kendzior said. Lucky for her father, Meg takes responsibility, defeats IT, and rescues him by virtue of thinking hard and getting angry.

Kendzior is right.  “Wrinkle” is very much about empathy, using one’s brain to solve problems, and the age old battle between good and evil.   Madeleine L’Engle, who died in 2007,  was a Christian who often explored religious and moral themes in her works, without ever becoming preachy or self-righteous.   Rather than reject or deny science (as many evangelical Christians today do), in “Wrinkle,” she embraces science — specifically quantum physics and the possibility of alien life — to tell a riveting and rather dark story about a 13 year old girl (Meg Murry) who is forced to use her righteous anger to fight against an evil force that has kidnapped her father and is about to take over the universe.     I agree with Kendzior that kids today should read this book.  (The movie, which I believe is being released in theaters today, couldn’t have come out at a more appropriate time in American history — although I have heard the reviews for the movie aren’t that great, so maybe it’s better to stick with reading the book.)

Meg isn’t alone in her quest.  She has help, in the form of three mysterious and sometimes humorous old women (L’Engle has described these women elsewhere as guardian angels rather than the “good witches” they appear to be).  Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which have supernatural powers and can appear or disappear at will.  Mrs. Whatsit is also able to shapeshift into a being who is a cross between an angel and a centaur.   There is also Meg’s telepathic 5 year old brother, Charles Wallace, whose ability to empathize must be off the charts and who also has a genius level IQ.  Finally, there is Meg’s new friend Calvin O’Keefe, seemingly average in most respects, but who, like Charles Wallace, seems to possess an impressive ability to empathize.

The story revolves around Meg’s father, a physicist who had been working on some top secret project involving quantum physics, and then suddenly disappeared and was never heard from again.   There’s some kind of connection between his disappearance and a concept he’d been working on called a “tesseract,” which refers to a 5th-dimensional  shortcut that can be taken through time and space by “folding” it.

Meg is a relatable but not always likeable girl.  She is brainy, awkward, unsure of herself, and apparently not very popular with most other kids because she’s not perky or upbeat all the time (I loved Meg when I read this book at age 11 or 12 because she was exactly like me!)   Meg’s reaction to things tends to be to get angry or sulk.   Her teachers have expressed concern over her rebellious and uncooperative behavior and her falling grades.  Since her father’s disappearance, her problems have only gotten worse.    Her little brother Charles Wallace is the family’s youngest child and has an uncanny ability to always know when Meg is upset, and even know the exact details of what she is thinking about.    Calvin O’Keefe, while he seems to be Meg’s opposite in many ways (he is popular, athletic, and only “average” IQ-wise) also is unusually understanding and empathetic of Meg’s emotional needs.

Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, who have ensconced themselves in an abandoned house in the woods near Meg’s home, come to the children one stormy October night.  Soon the kids find out these old women are celestial messengers and know where her father is — and that only Meg can be the one to save him.   Soon the three kids are embarking on a journey across the universe, traveling by “tessering” through space and time.

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1960s book cover.

Meg is at the center of the fight to return her father from the forces of darkness that have captured him, and the evil and powerful entity (IT) that has engulfed and now controls a large part of the universe.     Along the way the reader is treated to alien worlds and creatures.  The world on which her father is held prisoner is a terrifying planet of total conformity and utter control, in which people are literally turned into programmed robots.   Anyone who deviates from the “program” in any way is coldly disposed of.   This is also the planet where IT resides.  Some of the worlds Meg visits (that have not yet been engulfed by IT’s dark forces) are populated by beings with high levels of empathy and altruistic love.  On these worlds, Meg finds the emotional and physical replenishment she needs to succeed on her quest. On one planet, she is nurtured back to health after almost losing her life by a huge and ugly but maternal creature Meg comes to call “Aunt Beast.”

Like Meg and her companions, we who resist Trumpism are on a journey to fight a force that, like IT, seeks to gain complete control and enforce lock-step conformity.    It’s a force devoid of empathy, atruistic love, gentleness, and compassion, because those are values of the Light, which are alien to the dark forces of Trumpism.    Trumpism holds a dark, violent, and toxic masculinity that insists that the Light is weak and feminine, or “socialist,” as somehow virtuous.   Darkness hates the Light because it’s petrified of its power to expose the truth, so it will gaslight you and try to make you believe that goodness is really evil and evil is good.      Light values are the same ones Jesus taught in the Gospels (and almost every humanitarian spiritual leader has encouraged, from Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr.)   Ironically, the darkness of Trumpism, while insisting it’s based on Christian values, has in fact twisted and perverted Christ’s true message of love and inclusion into its polar opposite.

Like Meg, we in the resistance are going to be forced to go outside our comfort zones (Meg got quite sick while “tessering” at one point, and always did find the shortcut  frightening).  We can’t be tempted to “give in” to darkness just because it seems easier or because we’re being told that fighting it will only cause us more trouble than lying down like sheep and and accepting it.   Like Meg, we may need to use those qualities we dislike in ourselves, especially anger, to fight off the darkness before it consumes everything it touches, including our souls.

A Wrinkle in Time has aged well since its 1962 publication.  While the language the kids use in the book seems dated and overly formal (what kid calls their mother “Mother” anymore?), the book was well ahead of its time in its attitudes toward women and their intellectual aptitudes (Meg’s mother is a successful microbiologist).   The battle between good and evil is as old as humanity itself, and is especially well told in this classic and entertaining book.   The Christian message of the story is clear, while never beating you over the head with religion or Christian symbolism.   I worry about kids today being brainwashed by the sociopathic, nationalistic, racist, pro-violence, anti-woman, anti-science, and anti-education messages of exclusion and intolerance they are hearing from Trump and his followers.  A Wrinkle in Time is a great anecdote to that and if kids aren’t into reading, I’m sure seeing the new Disney movie can’t hurt them any.

It’s also a book that adults can enjoy too, and since reading the article I linked to above, I just started reading it again.

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12 reasons why our political situation isn’t as hopeless as you think.

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It’s an uphill battle trying to remain upbeat and positive when your country is being decimated by a group of amoral thugs who seem to have limitless power and money to do whatever they want, especially when no one seems to be able or willing to stop them.    It’s even harder to be positive when you are going to be personally affected by their cruel policies, which have the potential to destroy your life or the lives of your loved ones.

Yes, the situation is bad.   It would be dangerous and foolish to deny that.   But as the old cliche goes, there is always a silver lining to every dark cloud, and in the midst of all the evil, there are reasons to feel hopeful that good will triumph and we may emerge from this  stronger than we have ever been.

Here are 12 reasons why it’s okay to feel hopeful.

1.  Robert Mueller knows what he is doing and who he is dealing with.   In spite of GOP efforts to stop or discredit him, Mueller knows ways to throw a monkey wrench into their efforts, and is tenaciously pursuing justice for us all.  Even if the unthinkable should happen and Trump is able to somehow stop Mueller, I can tell you right now that people aren’t going to just lie down and accept it.    I guarantee half of the country will be storming Washington, jamming the phone lines, and showing up in huge numbers to protest against it.   Besides that, firing Mueller now would leave no doubt of his guilt.  It would be a huge problem for Trump, as it was for Nixon.   I realize it’s not 1974 and government is alot more broken than it was then, but I have to believe that it will still work as it’s supposed to, even if it’s not doing it well.

2.  There are a lot more people who oppose Trump and his administration than there are supporters. And that number is increasing.

3.  Trump’s base is eroding, albeit slowly.  Pew just reported that Trump’s approval rating just sunk to 32%.  That’s the lowest it’s ever been.    Hitler’s approval rating was always much higher, even at the height of his power.

4.  George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, and most likely others too, have flipped and are giving Mueller vital inside information that will hasten justice and eventually end this nightmare.

5.  Despite GOP efforts to undermine the free press and honest investigative journalism,  it’s stronger than ever.   Readership of newspapers that stay as close to truthful reporting as they can like The New York Times  and Washington Post have seen record numbers of subscriptions this year and are still rising.   At the same time, Fox News, once the most popular cable news channel, has sunk to third place, behind MSNBC and CNN.  Rachel Maddow’s show is the most popular news show on television.  As long as the free press remains relatively intact, we will not descend into full fascism or totalitarianism.

6.  There is strength in numbers.   There are a lot more of us than there are of them.   Together, we can do a lot of damage. Snowflakes, while fragile and weak on their own, are formidable when they coalesce to form a blizzard.

7.  The Republican Party is self-destructing.  While the Democratic Party may not be in good shape either,  people are leaving the GOP in droves, even people who have voted Republican all their lives.  Among progressives, while there is bickering between Never-Hillary democratic socialists and establishment Democrats, the divisions within various factions of the GOP are much deeper and less likely to mend themselves.

8.  People are more motivated to vote than they have been in decades (conservatives have always voted, so those numbers will not increase).   Don’t forget the recent blue sweep across many states last month, even a red state like Virginia.  Democrat Doug Jones may very well win Alabama, even though that state is deep red and extremely conservative.   He and Moore have been polling very close.   If a state like Alabama can turn blue, that’s a very good sign for us all.

9.  The country is rediscovering its soul and realizing what we have lost under four decades of increasingly right-wing policies.   Trump is both the end result of this and the shadow we have refused to face or denied.   Now we are compelled to face the truth and make necessary changes.   Most of America is finally starting to care about issues that have been increasingly discredited or demonized by Republicans and ignored or dismissed by Democrats.    We are waking up to what’s really important.  In a sense, Trump is actually doing the country a huge service, as long as we do our part and don’t give up and keep resisting.

10.  TIME just gave its Person of the Year award to the women of #MeToo.  Sexual abuse is being exposed and addressed at all levels in a way it never has been before.

11.  History is being made.   If you’re familiar with generational/turning theory, every 80 years or so, the country enters into a Crisis period (the last three were the American Revolution, The Civil War, and The Great Depression/WWII.)  in which America reinvents itself.   America has always come out of these crisis periods stronger and better than it was before.   I have to believe this time is no exception.   This won’t last forever.

12. Related to #10, the Millennial Generation (people born 1982 – 2004) is the most politically progressive generation in modern history.   They can’t be stopped, because there are so many more of them than Gen-X and even Baby Boomers, who are starting to die off.  Most Millennials are politically aware and aren’t allergic to the “s” word.   They realize, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, that capitalism works best when seasoned with a good helping of European-style democratic socialism, as it was from the late 1930s to the early 1970s when we had policies that actually benefited We the People and not just the corporations and the wealthy.   Millennials realize that trickle-up economics (recognizing that jobs are created and the economy thrives when the “little people” are living better), works better than trickle down economics, which has never worked for most Americans.   This is the generation that is beginning to have its effects felt in government and politics and is only going to keep increasing.

How narcissistic abuse prepared us to resist the Trump regime.

The other day, I promised to write a new article about the spiritual battle we are facing in America (and the world), but then I realized that back in July, I’d already written about this, so I am posting it again (with the title slightly changed from the original).

One thing I would like to add: Even though our democracy appears to be in grave danger under the Trump regime (and is in grave danger still), good things are happening. The Resistance has grown stronger, and women are finally speaking out against sexual abuse and harassment. Sexual abusers, whether politicians or entertainers, in Hollywood or Washington or Alabama, are being exposed and held accountable.

Due to the heartless and immoral actions of today’s Republican party, there is a strong backlash against it. Good people with empathy are no longer staying silent. A week ago (or was it two?) there was a blue sweep across America, as Democratic nominees in many states won over Republicans. Even a transgender woman won a House seat in Virginia, and Hoboken gained a Muslim mayor! That’s progress if you ask me.

People are also demanding changes to our gun laws. There is more gun violence in America than in any other country, and yet nothing is done. Mass shootings continue and are forgotten within a week. The gun lobby and NRA are powerful and wealthy, but We, The People are more powerful and eventually we will win this fight too.

So, things are changing, but we are not out of the woods yet. We can’t become complacent over a few victories. We must continue to fight for our democracy, and there probably will be more bloodshed before it’s all over. We are currently being confronted with what Jung called our shadow, and after 40 years of the sort of policies we’ve had, Trump (or someone like him) was the inevitable result. But the situation is far from hopeless. I think we will win, but we have to keep going.

Here is the original article I posted on July 18 of this year.

How Narcissistic Abuse Prepared Us to Resist the Trump Regime.

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Credit: “Woman Warrior”/unknown artist

I’ve hesitated about writing about this because it sounds both a little grandiose and a little woo-woo.  But for quite some time now,  I’ve believed those of us who were hurt badly and broken emotionally by narcissistic parents, spouses, lovers, or friends — and who were able to rise above that and escape our prison and begin the long healing journey that made us realize exactly what we had been dealing with — have been rewarded with a kind of vision and clarity about the world that the average person who never suffered this kind of abuse doesn’t have privy to.

We have learned — the hard way — how to discern lies from truth, and good from evil, and we are courageous and observant enough to call out lies and evil when we see it.  Without the excruciating educations we received years ago, we would not fully understand the spiritual darkness that undergirds what has happened in our country now.   We have developed emotional armor and X-ray vision that keeps us from being taken in by the lies and the manipulation and the coldhearted evil of the cabal of bullies and sociopaths who have hijacked our once-benevolent though never perfect nation.

Trump isn’t the problem.  He is merely a huge mirror reflecting back to us our own darkness as a people: greed, avarice, lack of empathy for the most vulnerable among us, and massive-scale narcissism.   Carl Jung would call this our shadow.    Trump is really doing us a great service by showing us what we became – but that still doesn’t mean he’s not a grave danger.   We must be on our guard.

The problem in America didn’t start with Donald Trump.  It has existed for decades, starting with Reagan’s feel-good rhetoric about self sufficiency, positive thinking, and bootstrap-pulling.   It was seductive and happy rhetoric, but was also a slippery slope that led to the jettisoning of empathy and eventual scapegoating of the most vulnerable.  Soon we were placing the blame for all the nation’s ills on our most vulnerable citizens,  deriding  fictional “welfare queens” (always imagined as black or Hispanic, even though most people on welfare were actually white), poor single mothers, and the LGBTQ community and their non-existent “war on family values.”    The list of the nations’ scapegoats who were blamed for the bad economy and everything else that went wrong soon expanded to the working poor, the addicted, the middle class, non-Christians (especially Muslims), and in the last stages of our national sickness, even to the disabled, elderly, chronically ill, liberals, and even children.   Why?  Because we are all “takers,” “parasites,” and “worthless non-producers.”   We all became scapegoats of this soulless cabal of wealthy grifters, liars, narcissists and criminals and we are at the moment at their mercy — of which they have none.

Along with this divide and conquer strategy of separating and fomenting hatred between the “winners” and the “losers” and the wholesale scapegoating of the “least among us” came deregulation (the dismantling of laws that protect us from corporate exploitation and environmental hazards), more and bigger tax breaks to the most wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poorest and weakest citizens, the naming of soulless corporations as “people,”  billions of dollars given to fund the prison-industrial complex instead of college grants and money for schools,  the denial of both climate change and science itself, the beginnings of voter suppression, gerrymandering districts, rich donors like the Kochs and Mercers using their vast wealth to ensure a Republican takeover, more and harsher prison sentences for minor drug offenders (mostly poor or of color) at the same time defunding rehabilitation and mental health programs that could help those with addictions.

All this evil was done with the blessing of the Christian Right, a loosely organized group of evangelical and fundamentalist churches and religious groups that believe in a strict, legalistic, authoritarian brand of dominionist, Calvinist Christianity based on the Old Testament (rather than the Gospels), whose doctrine teaches the prosperity gospel:  the unbiblical idea that unlimited power and wealth are bestowed on the most righteous (God’s elect) and the rest of us are weak, sick, disabled, powerless, and lack wealth because we are somehow morally lacking and therefore deserve our sorry lot.   Like all narcissists, they blame the victims.   These fake Christians self righteously proclaim we only need to be “saved” and the riches and health will come, as if God is a cosmic lottery machine.  And they call us the elitists!  This is spiritual abuse.

But all this is nothing new.  It’s been going on for decades.   It’s only worse under Trump because we finally reached the point where we were ready for someone like him to rise to power.   He’s like the nasty boil that erupts that makes it no longer possible to deny there’s a serious underlying infection (and yet many still deny the infection in spite of clear evidence right in front of them).

We got what we deserved, and Trump is only mirroring back to us our national sickness.  The sickness I speak of is pathological narcissism on a national scale, which perhaps began as the result of too much pride following our WWII victory.    Even as far back as the sixties, there were glimmerings of what was to come, but it was only seen in what was once dismissed as “the loony fringe.” It didn’t really begin to come into its own until the 1980s and the era of deregulation and tax cuts for social programs, tax breaks for the powerful CEOs and corporations, and the aggressive union-busting that went along with that (the last bastion of protection for the working class).

My point is this.  All the traits of pathological narcissism we know well from our own toxic families are now writ large on the national scale.    We survivors have been schooled in how this illness works and what it does to individuals and to families.  Now we are seeing what it does to an entire country.     America is a huge dysfunctional family, with narcissistic parents (the president and his underlings) who shower gifts (but never love) on their golden children (the wealthy and powerful and white and those who make them look good) while shaming, scapegoating, smearing, and threatening to punish (by taking away healthcare, education, regulations that protect us, and clean air and water) those who are different, don’t make them look good, call them out on their hypocrisy and lies, or dare to blow whistles on them.   They gaslight us by calling what we know to be true ‘fake news.’   Scapegoated children are always silenced, but we won’t be silenced, just like our own narcissistic families failed to silence us.  Instead, they  trained us. They were our harsh teachers.  We told the truth about their toxic behavior and emotional abuse, and made our own way in the world anyway, even though we might have lost our families’ blessings, money, or their fake love.

I don’t think there’s any coincidence that the great army of us who discovered that our own brokenness was a result of narcissistic abuse came about a mere ten or twenty years before this conscienceless, sociopathic cabal of self serving narcissists, con artists, criminals, and their flying monkeys (enablers and sycophants) rose to take power over our nation and maybe the world.  I truly believe that as painful and unfair as our suffering was, if we were able to recognize it for what it was and escape from it,  we are the ones with the right sort of training and emotional resilience to lead the fight against the darkness that is threatening to destroy the world.  It’s a kind of holy war, but it has nothing to do with religion.  It has to do with good versus evil, and because we got to see firsthand in our own families of origin (or our abusive marriages or other close relationships) how damaging and pernicious this type of evil can be, we  have a huge advantage over most of seeing through to the truth of things (and where there is truth, there is goodness and justice).   We have to be careful not to let this knowledge go to our heads or become arrogant about it, because that itself can lead to its own form of narcissism and defeat our goal of returning goodness, love, and caring to the world.   I don’t think it’s too late.  Because there are no coincidences, I think there was a reason we got the harsh preparation we did (most often, we were the truth tellers, the most vulnerable, and the most emotionally healthy people in our own families), and the time has come to put our hard won skills and our capacity for empathizing with the underdog to use.

As for people who endured narcissistic abuse and are aware they did, but who still support this president and his dangerous and heartless policies (unbelievably, some of these folks completely deny his narcissism),  I believe most of them are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, in which they are still identifying with their abuser unconsciously and still haven’t completely come to terms with their own anger and shame.   I can only hope and pray they see the truth and join us in the fight.

I want to post a long comment from a reader of the N-Continuum, a better than average blog about narcissism and narcissistic abuse.  Pay attention to the way this reader (who is a survivor of narcissistic abuse) makes excuses for Trump (I have bolded the more outrageous assertions) and completely denies his obvious narcissism (calling it “healthy narcissism,” LOL).  S/he also buys into the delusion that Hillary Clinton was a far more dangerous narcissist (a common sentiment among Trumpsters), that Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement was a good thing, and that climate change is a hoax:

It’s so interesting that Hillary is displaying many signs of NPD post election. She is too angry to hide it. Her latest interviews are full of delusions and blame towards others. Even the interviewers are scratching their heads.

Those that know her want her to stop talking and also are revealing she has never admitted to failure on any count in her entire life. It’s all out there on youtube, even left wing media (which is most) are looking embarrassed.

I have still only seen Trump doing his best for American citizens, constantly under fire by manufactured “scandals” 7 days a week. All of which amount to nothing.

A little information for those that don’t know. Trump has been very interested in and commenting on politics plus has been considering running for 25 years. He didn’t just suddenly change.

That Travelgate debacle Hilary was involved in was black hearted. Really nasty, accusing the guy that worked at the WH travel agency of embezzlement because he wouldn’t use her friend’s charter service for general contracting. She could have just fired him, but no, she made a false accusation. This is all on record. He had to go through the court system and was found innocent. This is the kind of thing a toxic narcissist does. Her false statement is officially called False by the courts. This is just one shady truth about H.

I don’t think people should say Trumpers have diseased brains (Silver) or they are uneducated, have the wrong life experience, are “just seeing what they want to see”. Maybe none of this is correct and those that think Trump is a narcissist is wrong? anyone on here consider that?

I still have heard and seen nothing in particular that suggests he has NPD. I see healthy narcissism but not NPD.

I ask this question of people at the Forum and none are given. It is always the immediate leap (conflation) to full blown NPD with nothing offering the bridge to this OBVIOUS CONCLUSION that everyone on here seems to agree with.

Can someone point out just ONE thing that would tick the NPD box please? just one? besides being a bit sexist and rude on occasion? The “experts say” thing just isn’t it. Experts say “these pants will make you thin” also. Experts can be bought, can be partisan. Trump is so dividing people are abandoning their own principals to announce him NPD.

He is doing his best to keep his promises. Does anyone watch his speeches? his exiting the Paris Agreement speech today was full of heart and real concern, he picked through the layers of concern. He isn’t lying. What does he have to gain? money? power? he already had that, he didn’t need to be POTUS. Could it be he wants to help?

If he HAD stayed in the agreement the media would have said he broke his promise. Instead the news tonight opened with calving icebergs at the top of the hour. . . . disaster, the world is ending.

Actually we are in a normal interglacial period and return to an ice age is more likely. Anyone else notice “global warming” has become climate change? (so if it gets colder it’s still “correct”).

In a later comment, this commenter reveals that she has recently become “born again” and realized that God has deemed that men should have dominion over women.   Perhaps it’s simply sexism that causes some religious Trumpsters to hate Hillary so much?  Because she’s one of those “uppity women” that upsets the patriarchal apple cart of white Christian male supremacy?  Does this abuse survivor really think an abusive narcissistic husband is in his right by abusing his woman, just because he has God’s blessing to do so?  One has to wonder.

Here is a PDF article I just read that has a similar message to mine: the idea that survivors of narcissistic abuse have a special role in helping to guide the nation through this dangerous historical minefield.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Do Not Lose Heart: We Were Made for These Times

Real vs. imaginary good and evil.

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What if the far-right God is the true God?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of God lately.  The insidious rise of Christian fascism in this country is forcing me to do so.

The radical religious right’s beliefs about God — punishing, angry, and intolerant — are incomprehensible and repugnant to me.   The prospect of the Old Testament Law-based Christian theocracy this radical group of zealots are attempting to impose here in America fills me with terror, righteous anger, and makes me literally sick to my stomach.

No matter how hard I try to understand these far right religious leaders, their dominionist views, and their need for total control over every aspect of our lives (this is the same group that talks about “small government”), I just can’t.   I don’t get it at all.   They might as well be aliens from another planet.

Their message and plan for America (and yes, eventually the world) doesn’t contain a shred of love, compassion, forgiveness, or mercy.   They show nothing but contempt for just the kind of people — the vulnerable and weak — that Jesus loved and instructed us to care for.   They only care about power and money.  They will cheat, lie, exploit, destroy, kill, and even commit treason in order to get more of what they crave.    They have hijacked the Republican party by appealing to religious conservatives and their churches, and now those churches have become as corrupt and self-serving as they are.  It’s no wonder so many good people are leaving the churches.   They have managed to Christianize greed and hatred.  They believe oppressing or punishing everyone who is different from them is their holy duty to bring about their longed for Christian America.  They are no different from the Taliban or ISIS.

But there’s an enormous disconnect, because their real god is “the market” — which they consider infallible and think will solve all the world’s problems.   This is idolatry.   Trickle down economics has never worked and never will work.  Singing the praises of an unregulated free market that will always self-correct if left alone is just an easy way for them to rationalize trashing and poisoning our small planet, not having to pay their fair share, or contribute to the common good. Make no mistake — their plan for America, if it succeeds, will cause widespread, massive suffering, misery, sickness, poverty, injustice, and death — all things associated with evil and utterly alien to any civilized society.

I don’t know if I believe in end times or not, but 2 Timothy 3 is telling about the nature of the people who have claimed all the power:  

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

Sound familiar?

The supporters of their fascist movement and its chosen leader are almost as bad, selling their souls at hate-filled Trump rallies held so he can puff himself up with narcissistic fuel, where they are encouraged to rough up and act out in violence against people their Dear Leader deems unfit to be treated as human beings.

A few days ago,  Dear Leader told assembled police it was okay to hit suspects’ heads on car doors as they are roughly pushed inside.  “Don’t be too nice,” he instructed them while laughing, then he turned around and spread his arms out wide as if he was expecting applause.   And of course, he got it.   Have those police sold their souls too? People seem to be selling their souls everywhere these days.

America is meaner and colder than it ever was.   Virtues of empathy, forgiveness, charity, and mercy are today seen as weaknesses or even sins — you’re called a snowflake, or a Marxist, or a bleeding-heart liberal.  If you try to remind these Bible-thumping legalists that these are the ways in which Jesus expected his followers to behave, they scoff and pull out their King James bibles and point to some passage in the Old Testament, while self-righteously telling you your God is false and “unbiblical.”  They tell you that good works don’t matter, and only faith does.

It may be true we are saved by grace alone, but if so, I believe your heart will change and you will begin to do good works and to care about others, especially the most vulnerable.  For the fake Christians in power, saying good works are meaningless simply gives them carte blanche to say they are Christian, but still go ahead and keep hurting and exploiting people.    “By their fruit you shall know them,” said Jesus, and that’s what I go by.   Are they bearing good fruit or not?

As Jack Johnson sang, Where did the good people go?  Do good people even exist anymore?   America just seems to get so much meaner and colder every day.

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But the truth is that good people are still here.  We are expressing our alarm, anger, and terror on blogs, in Facebook groups, in forums, on the streets, and in the comments sections of increasingly disturbing news stories as the country marches toward Christian Fascism.    We are crying out as our hearts break, hoping and praying someone will listen and care.   We are scared and yes, grieving that the country we love seems to have been lost.   If we are Christian, our hearts are hurting over what has been done to Jesus and his message of love, compassion, and forgiveness.    The gentle people are being persecuted and vilified just because they care — or because they need care themselves.

The silencing and oppression of the gentle people is due to differences in personality, I think.  It’s a war of values:  gentleness vs. aggressiveness, humility vs. pride, empathy vs. callousness, civility vs. rudeness, altruism vs. selfishness, egalitarianism vs. authoritarianism, critical thinking vs. ignorance, acceptance vs. exclusion, forgiveness vs. vindictiveness, integrity vs. lock-step obedience.

By their nature, gentle people have difficulty rising to the top of society.    Most get nowhere near it, because they lack the aggression and willingness to step on top of and exploit others to get there.  But the falsely macho, arrogant, conscienceless and predatory get there because because they are wired to do so.   The gentle and meek have little power because they do not go around seeking it aggressively or destroying whatever’s in their way to get it.   If they are Christians, they share their faith quietly and sincerely without requiring huge donations, huge audiences, or political power.

Like all scapegoats, the gentle people are blamed for their failure or inability to take power, or become wealthy.  If they suffer, they are callously told they brought those sufferings on themselves and got what they deserved.

The gaslighting and projection keeps getting worse.   We are told our beliefs are wrong and demonic. We are told that if we were real Christians, we should accept that Trump’s America is also God’s America and Trump was anointed by God to usher in Christ’s Kingdom.   We are told we are evil liberal obstructionists (even though it’s the president and his billionaire sycophants and donors who are the real obstructionists) and that we are cherry-picking the “nice” parts of the Bible that we like.

You begin to feel like you’re going insane.   If you were a member of a narcissistic family or were close to a narcissist in your life,  you know how crazy-making the mind games and manipulations and gaslighting can be.   You begin to doubt yourself and your own beliefs.  You start to question reality itself, because after all, everyone around you is telling you you’re crazy, or stupid, or deluded, or hysterical, or overreacting, or too sensitive.

That’s what’s happening on a much larger scale in America today.   The accusations from far-right Trump-supporting zealots (I’m not talking about garden variety conservatives here) sometimes make me wonder if my beliefs really are wrong.  What if the far-right preachers and pundits and politicians are right after all?   What if God really is a big bad bully in the sky who hates gays and Muslims and nonbelievers, and wants the rich and powerful to keep getting richer and more powerful because they are his golden children who are predestined to inherit heaven and earth? Never mind the fact that the Bible itself says the meek shall inherit the earth — you question and wonder anyway.   What if my God is the false one?

And then I start to think:   if they really are right, and their God is really the way they insist he is, would I want anything to do with him?   Would I want to live in a society ruled by their God?  Would I want to spend eternity in a heaven filled with those who worship a God who could be that cruel and heartless — a heaven where everyone looks the same and thinks and worships exactly the same way?  Would I want to live in a heaven where there are no liberals, no gays, no thinkers, no dreamers, no gentle souls, and where people don’t care about each other?  A heaven where the likes of Betsy DeVos, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell rub elbows and congratulate themselves over their moral superiority and how much power they held while on earth?

My answer is always, no, I do not.   To me, such a heaven would be hell.   And if there is a hell (I have doubts that hell really exists, but that’s a topic for another post), I think I might rather spend eternity there, with all the gentle and thinking and oppressed people.  I’d rather spend eternity burning in solidarity with Muslim mothers and their children, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, rainbow-clad gays, open-minded liberals, feminists, artists, dreamers, curious thinkers, intellectuals, tree huggers, social misfits, truth-tellers, and civil rights activists.  I’d rather spend eternity suffering with all the people the religious right’s legalistic and narcissistic God does not favor:  the weak and the oppressed and the persecuted and the brokenhearted.

They have created a God in their own image — a God who is as sociopathic, rage-filled, greedy for power, and narcissistic as they are, and I refuse to worship such a God.

And then I look around me at the natural world.   I gaze at the sunset over the mountains, I listen to the night-birds and the crickets and the trees singing in the wind.  I feel the warm summer rain on my face, look up at the night sky and marvel at the vastness of the universe and all its billions of stars and galaxies.    I listen to the rhythm of the ocean and feel humbled and grateful to be standing next to it.   I watch the intricate, delicate rosebuds on the bush outside my window burst into full flower.   I listen to my cat purr and feel his warmth on my chest as I fall asleep.

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And I realize:   no God as evil and cruel as theirs could possibly have created such a world.  No, the world is not perfect, far from it.  But it’s still beautiful, and evil cannot create beauty or goodness.  There’s no way a sociopathic tyrant of a God could have made something so beautiful and magnificent.   The bad things in the world exist because of us, not because of God.

They will keep attempting to silence us, to make us think we are the crazy ones, the evil ones, the ones spreading (or listening to) fake news, the ones who are destined to spend eternity in a lake of fire.  They will try to convince us that we are the cause of the world’s problems, while they remain blameless and favored by the Almighty.      They will try to wear us down and exhaust us, because that’s how narcissists and sociopaths operate.  A sociopathic society brings out the worst in everyone, so we will be tempted to bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening, or become filled with despair, apathy, cynicism, or hatred.   We have to stay mindful and not succumb to feelings of powerlessness and fear, because that’s what they want from us.   Remember that they feed off our pain because it makes them more powerful.

We must not listen to them.  We must listen to our own truth and our own hearts.  We will be required to go against our non-aggressive, possibly introverted, sensitive, and artistic natures and speak up loudly against those who wish us harm  — in righteous anger if necessary — but we cannot lose control or act out in violence and hatred.  If we are Christians, we need to pray for our enemies, no matter how outraged we may feel.   We are fighting a spiritual war, a war against truth and goodness, and if we don’t fight for ourselves, we must fight for the survival of those we love and those who have no voice.    If we allow them to beat us down and exhaust us into submission (which they are already trying to do), then they win, and all hope will be lost.

The following verse gives me courage when I start to feel hopeless and despairing and exhausted from fighting against this scourge, and I hope it helps you too, even if you’re a non-Christian.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. — Matthew 11:29

 

 

How narcissistic abuse prepared us to fight against what is happening right now.

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Credit: “Woman Warrior”/unknown artist

 

I’ve hesitated about writing about this because it sounds both a little grandiose and a little woo-woo.  But for quite some time now,  I’ve believed those of us who were hurt badly and broken emotionally by narcissistic parents, spouses, lovers, or friends — and who were able to rise above that and escape our prison and begin the long healing journey that made us realize exactly what we had been dealing with — have been rewarded with a kind of vision and clarity about the world that the average person who never suffered this kind of abuse doesn’t have privy to.

We have learned — the hard way — how to discern lies from truth, and good from evil, and we are courageous and observant enough to call out lies and evil when we see it.  Without the excruciating educations we received years ago, we would not fully understand the spiritual darkness that undergirds what has happened in our country now.   We have developed emotional armor and X-ray vision that keeps us from being taken in by the lies and the manipulation and the coldhearted evil of the cabal of bullies and sociopaths who have hijacked our once-benevolent though never perfect nation.

Trump isn’t the problem.  He is merely a huge mirror reflecting back to us our own darkness as a people: greed, avarice, lack of empathy for the most vulnerable among us, and massive-scale narcissism.   Carl Jung would call this our shadow.    Trump is really doing us a great service by showing us what we became – but that still doesn’t mean he’s not a grave danger.   We must be on our guard.

The problem in America didn’t start with Donald Trump.  It has existed for decades, starting with Reagan’s feel-good rhetoric about self sufficiency, positive thinking, and bootstrap-pulling.   It was seductive and happy rhetoric, but was also a slippery slope that led to the jettisoning of empathy and eventual scapegoating of the most vulnerable.  Soon we were placing the blame for all the nation’s ills on our most vulnerable citizens,  deriding  fictional “welfare queens” (always imagined as black or Hispanic, even though most people on welfare were actually white), poor single mothers, and the LGBTQ community and their non-existent “war on family values.”    The list of the nations’ scapegoats who were blamed for the bad economy and everything else that went wrong soon expanded to the working poor, the addicted, the middle class, non-Christians (especially Muslims), and in the last stages of our national sickness, even to the disabled, elderly, chronically ill, liberals, and even children.   Why?  Because we are all “takers,” “parasites,” and “worthless non-producers.”   We all became scapegoats of this soulless cabal of wealthy grifters, liars, narcissists and criminals and we are at the moment at their mercy — of which they have none.

Along with this divide and conquer strategy of separating and fomenting hatred between the “winners” and the “losers” and the wholesale scapegoating of the “least among us” came deregulation (the dismantling of laws that protect us from corporate exploitation and environmental hazards), more and bigger tax breaks to the most wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poorest and weakest citizens, the naming of soulless corporations as “people,”  billions of dollars given to fund the prison-industrial complex instead of college grants and money for schools,  the denial of both climate change and science itself, the beginnings of voter suppression, gerrymandering districts, rich donors like the Kochs and Mercers using their vast wealth to ensure a Republican takeover, more and harsher prison sentences for minor drug offenders (mostly poor or of color) at the same time defunding rehabilitation and mental health programs that could help those with addictions.

All this evil was done with the blessing of the Christian Right, a loosely organized group of evangelical and fundamentalist churches and religious groups that believe in a strict, legalistic, authoritarian brand of dominionist, Calvinist Christianity based on the Old Testament (rather than the Gospels), whose doctrine teaches the prosperity gospel:  the unbiblical idea that unlimited power and wealth are bestowed on the most righteous (God’s elect) and the rest of us are weak, sick, disabled, powerless, and lack wealth because we are somehow morally lacking and therefore deserve our sorry lot.   Like all narcissists, they blame the victims.   These fake Christians self righteously proclaim we only need to be “saved” and the riches and health will come, as if God is a cosmic lottery machine.  And they call us the elitists!  This is spiritual abuse.

But all this is nothing new.  It’s been going on for decades.   It’s only worse under Trump because we finally reached the point where we were ready for someone like him to rise to power.   He’s like the nasty boil that erupts that makes it no longer possible to deny there’s a serious underlying infection (and yet many still deny the infection in spite of clear evidence right in front of them).

We got what we deserved, and Trump is only mirroring back to us our national sickness.  The sickness I speak of is pathological narcissism on a national scale, which perhaps began as the result of too much pride following our WWII victory.    Even as far back as the sixties, there were glimmerings of what was to come, but it was only seen in what was once dismissed as “the loony fringe.” It didn’t really begin to come into its own until the 1980s and the era of deregulation and tax cuts for social programs, tax breaks for the powerful CEOs and corporations, and the aggressive union-busting that went along with that (the last bastion of protection for the working class).

My point is this.  All the traits of pathological narcissism we know well from our own toxic families are now writ large on the national scale.    We survivors have been schooled in how this illness works and what it does to individuals and to families.  Now we are seeing what it does to an entire country.     America is a huge dysfunctional family, with narcissistic parents (the president and his underlings) who shower gifts (but never love) on their golden children (the wealthy and powerful and white and those who make them look good) while shaming, scapegoating, smearing, and threatening to punish (by taking away healthcare, education, regulations that protect us, and clean air and water) those who are different, don’t make them look good, call them out on their hypocrisy and lies, or dare to blow whistles on them.   They gaslight us by calling what we know to be true ‘fake news.’   Scapegoated children are always silenced, but we won’t be silenced, just like our own narcissistic families failed to silence us.  Instead, they  trained us. They were our harsh teachers.  We told the truth about their toxic behavior and emotional abuse, and made our own way in the world anyway, even though we might have lost our families’ blessings, money, or their fake love.

I don’t think there’s any coincidence that the great army of us who discovered that our own brokenness was a result of narcissistic abuse came about a mere ten or twenty years before this conscienceless, sociopathic cabal of self serving narcissists, con artists, criminals, and their flying monkeys (enablers and sycophants) rose to take power over our nation and maybe the world.  I truly believe that as painful and unfair as our suffering was, if we were able to recognize it for what it was and escape from it,  we are the ones with the right sort of training and emotional resilience to lead the fight against the darkness that is threatening to destroy the world.  It’s a kind of holy war, but it has nothing to do with religion.  It has to do with good versus evil, and because we got to see firsthand in our own families of origin (or our abusive marriages or other close relationships) how damaging and pernicious this type of evil can be, we  have a huge advantage over most of seeing through to the truth of things (and where there is truth, there is goodness and justice).   We have to be careful not to let this knowledge go to our heads or become arrogant about it, because that itself can lead to its own form of narcissism and defeat our goal of returning goodness, love, and caring to the world.   I don’t think it’s too late.  Because there are no coincidences, I think there was a reason we got the harsh preparation we did (most often, we were the truth tellers, the most vulnerable, and the most emotionally healthy people in our own families), and the time has come to put our hard won skills and our capacity for empathizing with the underdog to use.

As for people who endured narcissistic abuse and are aware they did, but who still support this president and his dangerous and heartless policies (unbelievably, some of these folks completely deny his narcissism),  I believe most of them are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, in which they are still identifying with their abuser unconsciously and still haven’t completely come to terms with their own anger and shame.   I can only hope and pray they see the truth and join us in the fight.

I want to post a long comment from a reader of the N-Continuum, a better than average blog about narcissism and narcissistic abuse.  Pay attention to the way this reader (who is a survivor of narcissistic abuse) makes excuses for Trump (I have bolded the more outrageous assertions) and completely denies his obvious narcissism (calling it “healthy narcissism,” LOL).  S/he also buys into the delusion that Hillary Clinton was a far more dangerous narcissist (a common sentiment among Trumpsters), that Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement was a good thing, and that climate change is a hoax:

It’s so interesting that Hillary is displaying many signs of NPD post election. She is too angry to hide it. Her latest interviews are full of delusions and blame towards others. Even the interviewers are scratching their heads.

Those that know her want her to stop talking and also are revealing she has never admitted to failure on any count in her entire life. It’s all out there on youtube, even left wing media (which is most) are looking embarrassed.

I have still only seen Trump doing his best for American citizens, constantly under fire by manufactured “scandals” 7 days a week. All of which amount to nothing.

A little information for those that don’t know. Trump has been very interested in and commenting on politics plus has been considering running for 25 years. He didn’t just suddenly change.

That Travelgate debacle Hilary was involved in was black hearted. Really nasty, accusing the guy that worked at the WH travel agency of embezzlement because he wouldn’t use her friend’s charter service for general contracting. She could have just fired him, but no, she made a false accusation. This is all on record. He had to go through the court system and was found innocent. This is the kind of thing a toxic narcissist does. Her false statement is officially called False by the courts. This is just one shady truth about H.

I don’t think people should say Trumpers have diseased brains (Silver) or they are uneducated, have the wrong life experience, are “just seeing what they want to see”. Maybe none of this is correct and those that think Trump is a narcissist is wrong? anyone on here consider that?

I still have heard and seen nothing in particular that suggests he has NPD. I see healthy narcissism but not NPD.

I ask this question of people at the Forum and none are given. It is always the immediate leap (conflation) to full blown NPD with nothing offering the bridge to this OBVIOUS CONCLUSION that everyone on here seems to agree with.

Can someone point out just ONE thing that would tick the NPD box please? just one? besides being a bit sexist and rude on occasion? The “experts say” thing just isn’t it. Experts say “these pants will make you thin” also. Experts can be bought, can be partisan. Trump is so dividing people are abandoning their own principals to announce him NPD.

He is doing his best to keep his promises. Does anyone watch his speeches? his exiting the Paris Agreement speech today was full of heart and real concern, he picked through the layers of concern. He isn’t lying. What does he have to gain? money? power? he already had that, he didn’t need to be POTUS. Could it be he wants to help?

If he HAD stayed in the agreement the media would have said he broke his promise. Instead the news tonight opened with calving icebergs at the top of the hour. . . . disaster, the world is ending.

Actually we are in a normal interglacial period and return to an ice age is more likely. Anyone else notice “global warming” has become climate change? (so if it gets colder it’s still “correct”).

In a later comment, this commenter reveals that she has recently become “born again” and realized that God has deemed that men should have dominion over women.   Perhaps it’s simply sexism that causes some religious Trumpsters to hate Hillary so much?  Because she’s one of those “uppity women” that upsets the patriarchal apple cart of white Christian male supremacy?  Does this abuse survivor really think an abusive narcissistic husband is in his right by abusing his woman, just because he has God’s blessing to do so?  One has to wonder.

Here is a PDF article I just read that has a similar message to mine: the idea that survivors of narcissistic abuse have a special role in helping to guide the nation through this dangerous historical minefield.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Do Not Lose Heart: We Were Made for These Times