The Five of Wands, Compassion, and the Invasion of The Trumpster Amygdaloids

Developing compassion for Trump supporters based on their inflamed amygdalas.

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.

The Five of Wands and a Committee of Egos

The Five of Wands is almost painful to look at.  All of that conflict! All of that fighting! All of those guys whacking each other with their staves!

Except, they’re not.

If you look a little more closely at the Five of Wands you see that NO ONE is getting hit.  Not one single staff has landed on one single head. Look a little closer and you see that they’re all holding their staves with one hand, which is a little awkward for close quarter combat, right?

So what the hell’s going on here?

When you stand back and get a little perspective on the painting you can see that the staves are actually starting to form a pattern as they’re being waved around in the air.  One side of a pentacle is forming and we can assume the other side is coming eventually.

Wands, of course, represent ideas or ambitions and pentacles are possessions or earth based manifestations.  The short hand on this card is that a variety of ideas are coming together and will manifest into a single, material form.

We might call this, “co-creation by committee.” Or more accurately, co-creation by ego.

Ego gets a bad rap a certain extent of the time.  Aside from being that distracting voice that won’t shut the hell up when we’re trying to meditate, there are some things that ego is very good at doing.  Ego is great for making out grocery lists, or remembering to change the oil in the car, or paying the bills on time. Ego is not only good at planning for the future, ego can plan six or seven possible futures simultaneously AND be obsessed with the past while it’s doing that.

One thing that ego is NOT good at, though, is co-creation.  It’s almost as if acknowledging that someone else might have a better idea is a threat to ego’s very existence.

As Eckhart Tolle said in “A New Earth:  Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,”

“There is nothing that strengthens the ego more than being right. . . For you to be right, of course, you need someone else to be wrong, and so the ego loves to make wrong in order to be right. . . Being right places you in a position of imagined moral superiority in relation to the person or situation that is being judged and found wanting.  It is that sense of superiority the ego craves and through which it enhances itself.”

And when you put a group of people in a room together, all of whom are convinced that they’re right and everyone else is wrong, you end up with the Five of Wands.  They’re not just waving their wands around, they’re waving their egos around. They’re not TOUCHING each other, not synthesizing each others creativity into a real group effort and so it’s very difficult to bring a coherent, complete vision out of the gathering.

Real co-creation requires that we step out of our egos for awhile and actually listen to other people’s ideas and inspirations.  That we operate as equals and acknowledge that each person brings valuable gifts to the table.  

There was a very popular book written by Thomas Anthony Harris in the 1960s called, “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.”  The premise of the book was that we’re all on equal footing spiritually, no one is a superior or an inferior. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross flipped it a little and said, “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”

Either way you look at it, THAT’S the point where we start to have real co-creation with other people.  When we leave the ego by the door to guard the umbrellas and actually listen to each other.