I’ve been trying to reach a space of compassion in my heart for rabid Trump supporters and it hasn’t been easy. Any time that we see pictures of them, they seem to exist in a sea of snarling, angry, hate-filled faces. Their social media posts are contemptuous, bigoted, ill-informed diatribes that frequently feature images of people with guns, swastikas, and confederate flags.
They, “feel,” very much like the Five of Wands. A group of people swinging clubs as fast and as hard as they possibly can and rarely connecting with anything useful.
There’s not much there to love or empathize with. It became much, much harder to feel a sense of common humanity with them after they stormed the Capitol Building on January the Sixth. They exhibited all of the rage, fury, and mindlessness of a lynch mob and it’s plain that people would have been seriously injured or killed if the Trumpsters had been able to reach them.
I DO have a need and a perceived duty to feel compassion for my fellow humans. If we believe, as I do, that we are ALL Souls at our core – small sparks from the Sacred Fire of the universe – then we need to treat one another with the same respect that we would show for the origin of the Sacred and the Divine. The rabid Trumpsters, then, could be perceived as wandering, confused, temporarily misguided human Souls.
But they’re such assholes.
I mean, they’re really, really REALLY hard to like. I don’t like their politics, I don’t like their snotty, condescending attitudes, I don’t like their hatred or their guns or their racism. So I was having an extremely hard time trying to come up with one thing, just one thing, where I could find some common ground and tell myself, “Yeah . . . THERE’S something we have in common! There’s a basis for some empathy and compassion.”
And I finally settled on their amygdalas.
The amygdala, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a walnut shaped organ at the base of our brains. It’s probably the most ancient part of our brains which is why it’s referred to as, “the crocodile brain,” meaning that it’s on about the same primitive evolutionary level as a crocodile.
It’s also in charge of the fight, flight, or freeze reaction. If we’re confronted with danger, the amygdala fires off and our brains and bodies are flooded with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. We’re on full alert and we’re instantly ready to fight like hell, run like hell, or freeze in place.
Also – and this is VERY important with understanding the Trumpsters – when the amygdala is fully activated the prefrontal cortex, which is the THINKING part of the brain, the RATIONAL part of the brain, shuts down. Turns off. Quits working.
One other curious fact about the amygdala is that the more it’s activated, the more dominant it becomes. When we’re constantly frightened or angry, the amygdala actually GROWS in size and our bodies become like a sea of stress hormones.
Even to a rational, normal person, the last four years have been extremely irritating. Until they took Trump’s Twitter account away from him, there was a constant, never-ending barrage of Twisted Trump Tweets. Many times a day there were messages that basically said, “Be afraid! Be very, very afraid!”
The Socialists are coming for you!
The Communists are coming for you!
The Chinese are coming for you!
The Mexican rapists are coming for you!
The Anitifas are coming for you!
The Democrats are coming for you!
The liberals are coming for you!
Toilets that you have to flush twice are coming for you!
Be afraid! And – also – be very, very, very ANGRY!
For most of us the tweets went from being stupid to being annoying to, “Doesn’t that guy EVER shut the fuck up?”
But now imagine what those tweets must have been doing to the rabid Trumpsters. These were people whose amygdalas must have already been pretty active since they voted for Trump and his fear and his anger to begin with. Then add a four year stream of poisonous messages from the Tangerine Troll and they had to have gone totally into Tilt.
If the amygdala actually grows every time we get angry or become frightened, they must have amygdalas the size of freaking watermelons. And if the prefrontal cortex shuts down every time the amygdala fires off, well shit, they haven’t had a rational thought in years.
Bless their little hearts.
So I’m using that as my basis for compassion. These people aren’t just assholes. They’re actually suffering from extremely inflamed amygdalas, aggravated by shrivelled prefrontal cortexes. I’m even beginning to think of them less as rabid Trump supporters and more as Amygdaloids.
“Yes, it was tragic. When he was born he seemed perfectly normal, but sometime in his later development turned into an Amygdaloid. No known treatment for it, you know. Just . . . tragic.”
There now. I feel better already.