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Here in the Bay Area of California, we’re in the midst of a major natural disaster on the scale of the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989 and the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991. The wild fires started on Sunday night, October 8, and raged on throughout the day on Monday.

Fed by high winds with gusts of up to 70 mph, the fire spread to several locations miles apart.

At the time of this writing on Saturday, October 14th, there are 16 fires still burning. 37 people are known to be dead and there are more than 200 people missing. 5700 homes and businesses have gone up in smoke. 100,000 people have been displaced by evacuations. 220,000 acres have been burned.

This firestorm is the most destructive wildfire of life and property in the history of California.

Witnesses have reported seeing a downed power line starting a fire and this may well be the source of it all.

The smoke from these fires has made the air quality as bad as it is in Beijing for much of the Bay Area.

Although it will take many more days before the last embers and hot spots are extinguished, we have seen the worst of the fire’s destruction.

If your home was has not been already consumed by the fire, it’s most likely safe unless you live in some mountainous area.

10,000 firefighters are currently at work on the fire lines. Crews and equipment have come in from all parts of the United States and even from Canada and Australia. Cities, towns and residential neighborhoods are going to be safe.

It will take many months to rebuild and restore and some areas will never be the same.

In trying to gain perspective on crisis, we could appeal to the notion that the Chinese word for crisis is a combination of characters meaning both danger and opportunity.

Actually, though, this is a mistranslation. The first character does mean danger but the second one means something like a crucial point when something begins or changes.

The correct translation points to one aspect where we can find perspective in this disaster. We are indeed at a critical time where change happens one way or another.

Handwriting on the wall never gets much clearer than this.

The magnitude of this firestorm is a result of global warming. 7 years of drought killed many trees. Then a record rain in the winter resulted in a lot of new growth. This was all dried out by the hottest summer on record for California.

We are in ecological crisis sourced by climate change that is a direct result of greenhouse gas pollution from human activity. Global warming and climate change is really happening.

Unless we make changes to our collective activity, the creeping apocalypse of global ecological disruption will become our everyday reality rather than just a possible future.

It is criminal political malfeasance that, in the United States, human sourced global warming is not fully acknowledged.

Facts and scientific consensus about climate change aren’t persuasive to folks who stand to profit by climate change skepticism. Many are in the cabinet of our current president.

In our era of alternative facts, the consensus of 97% of climate scientists who believe that human activity is driving global warming can be discounted.

However, when you’ve been directly impacted by the weather disasters of 2017, or know someone who has been affected, it’s harder to maintain this bubble of alternative reality.

Our hurricane season has been one of the worst in recent decades. Weather disasters of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and fires are on the increase. These events are not just one off events. There is a real pattern here.

It is my hope, wish, and prayer that this firestorm catastrophe can help some people connect the dots who are still uncertain about climate change and the human role in it.

It’s time to find out where your local politicians stand on this issue and vote them out if they are climate change deniers.

Even if you are someone who doesn’t read or listen to the news, there is no way to not be affected by this catastrophe. It’s literally in the air.

So, how do we move forward so that the crucial point of change that is happened around us takes us in a positive direction? Where is the empowerment possible in crisis?

Those whose homes or businesses have been burned into ash have obviously a different order of challenge than the rest of us who have not had to leave our homes because of the fire.

The focus there is rightly on where to find help and support both for the short term and for the long term prospect of rebuilding.

For those of us not directly impacted, we are nonetheless in a state of crisis because we are witnessing suffering and destruction around us. Almost all of us know someone who has been directly affected.

Because of the distress that we feel about what is happening around us, the temptation is to stop being present and distract ourselves in various ways. This might be especially true if we don’t see a clear path to contribute to those who are suffering.

There have been reports of evacuation centers turning away volunteers and donations because they already have enough.

If we are fortunately enough not to be personally affected, this puts us into a privileged position with the respect to those who are. There is no need to feel guilt about this.

We can use that privilege to be part of a collective consciousness of empowerment, strength and support. When we are strong and positive, this helps empowers those who are in need.

It is not necessary to take on the pain of those who have endured horrific, unexpected, sudden loss. Coming from a place of empathy and compassion doesn’t mean having to have the same emotions as those who are suffering. It is counterproductive to try to do so.

It’s possible to get to a place of well-being even when distressed by the suffering of people around us. When we can muster the courage to be present in spite of the crisis we are all in, we can find our way to inspired action around what is given for us to do, whatever that might be.

This is the empowerment possible in every crisis. When we can remain present, our hearts can open. There will be wisdom there even if the mind is unable to comprehend what is happening.

We would like to think that we would be one of those people who embody the quality of grace in crisis. But maybe that is not you. Then be one with the personal power and grace that you do have. This will enable you to find your way to right action and even inspired action from that place of self-acceptance.

When we can be present in these times, our hearts can expand and we gain perspective on what is really important in life. We can find appreciation for what we usually take for granted. We can go to a place of celebrating life, celebrating love, celebrating community.

This is so even if we contemplate what it would mean for our possessions and homes to be taken away from us.

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Just after 10 pm on Sunday, October 1, shots rang out at the Route 91 Harvest Outdoor Music Festival in Las Vegas. 22,000 people were packed in the grounds of the festival. 58 were killed and 489 were hurt. This was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in US history.

The firing lasted only 10 minutes but, in that time, hundreds of rounds rained down on the festival from 490 yards away.

A hotel security guard, Jesus Campos, armed with only a nightstick, was able to quickly identify where the shooting was coming from on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

By chance, someone had left a door open in the hallway where the shooter was and this set off an alarm that Compos went to investigate. The perpetrator fired 200 rounds from his suite wounding Compos in the leg.

However, he was able to call in police who arrived only minutes later. Police waited for SWAT team backup before they blew the door open as the shooting had stopped by then.

They found Stephen Paddock, a 64 year old white male, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot. 22 rifles and one handgun were recovered at the scene along with thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Paddock had carried all of these munitions into his hotel room without suspicion in 10 suitcases as he arrived at the hotel on Thursday.

12 of the rifles had been equipped with bump stock modifications. This allowed them to be fired as rapidly as fully automatic weapons using the high capacity magazines also recovered at the scene.

Paddock does not fit the profile of a typical rampage killer. He had placed four cameras in strategic locations so that he could monitor what was happening in the hallway outside of his door.

The meticulous planning that went into the shooting showed premeditation rather than just an acting out of rage over some grievance.

He had recently secured rooms overlooking other music festivals in Chicago, Boston, and Las Vegas although there was no shooting at these places. It must have taken him some time to accumulate the armory that he took into the suite at Las Vegas.

We know that he was a high stakes gambler and a wealthy individual. He owed two homes in different states. He spent long stretches in casino hotels gambling.

Just before his death, he wired $100,000 to his girlfriend who was overseas at the time. There is no evidence he was under financial duress at the time of the shooting.

His father, Benjamin Paddock, was a bank robber who escaped from prison and was on the FBI’s most wanted list. He was described as “psychopathic and suicidal.” He didn’t have any contact with his father after age 7 but was beaten by him as a child.

Accordingly to all the available evidence, Stephen Paddock had no political, religious, or ideological affiliations.

He seemed to have been an almost pathologically private individual. He went to great lengths to avoid interacting with people directly whenever possible. He played video poker, for example, where he could gamble alone.

He left no trace on social media, no notes, explanation, or rationalization for his mass murder.

He had no criminal record of any kind. Prior to the shooting, he does not seem to have been acting in a way that is consistent with someone who has significant mental illness.

The mayhem and terror he engineered come out of nowhere. Nothing that has yet been discovered gives us a clue about why he shot up the festival.

We can’t understand why he would kill innocent people at a music concert. This appears to be murder without malice.

My reading is that Paddock murder spree was a carefully planned suicide. Although, police are speculating that Paddock had an escape plan, the cameras that he placed to look down the hallway suggest he knew that he was not going to escape from his barricaded room.

He wanted to make sure he had enough time to kill himself before he had to confront the police and perhaps be only wounded and survive.

My belief is that he wanted to die with some dramatic flair. 10 minutes of shooting was enough to fulfill that wish. He could have fired more rounds towards the crowd even as the police were creeping up on him, but he stopped.

This is not consistent with someone who is on a mission to kill as many people as possible.

In my own life, whenever something disruptive happens, I look for the lessons of that experience. It’s often a symptomatic breakthrough event.

When I stop and ask why this happened to me, the meaning come through clearly. Most of the time, the lessons are ones that I have had difficulty taking in without the shock of the upset. The breakthrough is a symptom of something that needs awareness.

For example, when my father died suddenly, I didn’t grieve much. I was thinking to myself, “I’m over this already.” At that very moment, I ran a red light in front of a policeman and got a ticket.

My thesis is that the Stephen Paddock’s rampage is a symptomatic breakthrough for our society. Stephen Paddock is a symptom of our times.

The first lesson is one that stands out in almost everyone’s mind. Our gun laws need reform. Had Paddock not had the bump stock modifications on his rifles that allowed him to fire 400 rounds or more per minute, he wouldn’t have been to kill and hurt as many people as he did.

Moreover, if he hadn’t had the oversized magazines that hold 100 bullets at a time, this would also have slowed him down considerably.

It’s time for the people to confront the NRA and the politicians who support their agenda. This is already underway. Sensing that they are now on the defensive, the NRA has even come out in support of regulation of bump stocks.

We also need to close the loopholes that allow people to buy guns at gun shows and through private sales without background checks. We need universal background checks.

Stephen Paddock’s murders are a textbook case of moral insanity where there is no concern for the destructive effects of our actions on other people.

Similarly, we have morally insane gun regulations. For example, there is no provision to restrict the sale of guns to people who are on the terror watch list or the no fly list.

One of the first laws that came through the Republican Congress to be signed by Trump was a law that allowed people judged to be mentally incompetent to buy guns.

A regulation had been passed in President Obama’s time that specifically prevented people judged by the Social Security administration to be mentally incompetent of managing their own financial affairs from buying guns. This was overturned.

It’s pretty evident that when Paddock rained death on the festival, he wasn’t trying to make some political, religious, or ideological point. If he had such a motive, he would have left something behind to tell people how his actions supported his perverted viewpoint. But he left nothing.

My reading is that he was in some kind of existential crisis and that he killed people to make himself feel better. This is narcissism run amok. You might thing this is the worst case scenario but we have a president who is also very narcissistic.

We don’t know what he might do if he feels like he’s cornered and is going to lose his grip on power.

The massacre was certainly a Stephen Paddock first strategy. The lesson here is not to pretend that Trump’s America First policy is something we just have to learn to live with. At the UN, he recommended that other countries adopt this policy. It is a nation states first strategy.

With the creeping apocalypse of climate change crisis upon us, we need a more global centric perspective if we are going to survive into the next century.

This is a lesson about the negative role model. When someone does something as terrible as what Paddock did or is a President like Trump currently is, the lessons that are available are to move in the opposite direction with all of our heart, mind, and soul.

Donald Trump is in our lives to teach us how not to be.

We may never learn what triggered Paddock’s crisis to the point where he felt that his desperate actions made sense to him. But we have a prevailing existential crisis in our civilization as a whole to deal with.

We can learn from him by looking at what he did as a reflection of what is within ourselves even if it’s deep within the shadow.

Existential crisis happens when fundamental issues of life come into play. Who am I? What’s worth doing? Where do I belong? Is there a purpose to my life and, if so, what is it and where can I find it?

Many forces of modern life and technology are creating an accelerating rate of change in our institutions, values, traditions, belief systems and ultimately our sense of identity. Our entire civilization is moving into existential crisis.

Human nature being what it is, if we don’t find our way to empowerment where we can envision new sources of meaning and purpose, we are going to be living in complaint.

That is, provided we are not in denial about change or numbing ourselves out with substance addiction or process addiction.

Process addiction is how we distract ourselves with such things as overeating, working outrageous hours, sleeping more than 10 hours a day, binge watching television, or video poker.

Denial and numbing ourselves may only work for a while, and then a sense of meaninglessness may prevail where almost nothing we do seems to make any difference or have any consequence now or later. At this point, we’re vulnerable to acting out against ourselves and others.

One in six Americans currently take some kind of psychiatric drugs, mostly antidepressants.

So, a big lesson of this terrible tragedy is to recognize that we all need to find our way to empowerment by finding our personal meaning.

The meaning and purpose we’re after is a spiritual quality. The essence of spirit is feeling connected to other life and other sentience, not just in some abstract philosophical sense, but with a felt sense of joy, compassion, and love.

We need to connect our mundane selves with the inspirations of our Higher Self and with the greater spiritual network that we live within.

The reality is that everything we do matters because we are part of this great interconnected network of souls embodied in human form. What you and I do ripples out to eventually touch everyone. Thus, when someone kills innocents, we rightly grieve even if we knew none of them personally.

The good news is that every act of kindness, tolerance, understanding, patience, and forgiveness also touches everyone. We can make the world better with the most simple and mundane actions.

The sense of meaninglessness is always an illusion. We are never hopeless or helpless. Because change is always happening, none of the things we complaint about are going to endure. We can either be part of the change that is inevitably going to occur or be at the effect of it.

Speaking from personal experience, I appreciate how easy is to lose one’s spiritual center when emotions are triggered. So, I’m working with something to help me stay on track of my personal meaning. I call this the ACE protocol. It stands for awareness, compassion, empowerment.

Something happens where I feel disappointed, distressed, or frustrated. It could be something really trivial like someone honking their horn at me when I don’t move fast enough for them out of the intersection.

Awareness is witnessing my emotions and allowing myself to feel whatever it is that I feel.

Then I access the Template of Compassion. This is a kind of thought form of love. If I can get to self-love, then I’m less likely to be in some reflex response. Touching my heart space helps me get there.

I then look for the empowerment in the moment. The emotions I feel have opened up something within me and this is where inspiration, lessons, and appreciation can come forward. My empowerment is finding my personal meaning in this moment. I trust that it’s there and that it will reveal itself if I am open and patient.

I know I’m there when I move from upset to self-compassion and appreciation.

With Trump’s election as president, it would seem that we have fallen into a political dark age. How long will this darkness last? Why did it happen? What does it mean? And what can we do about it?

The circumstances that lead to this unthinkable outcome are important because we want to know how we can prevent something similar happening in the future. We want to get to a place where we can say with confidence, “Never again.”

I am going to forego a discussion of the reasons Trump won until a future blog. There are at least ten main reasons and collectively they were enough to result in a narrow win in the Electoral College. Trump still lost the popular vote by almost 2.9 million votes.

If you are at all like me, you may be experiencing profound unhappiness, anxiety, and even trauma at this turn of events in our country. It’s tempting to turn the whole thing off, ignore the news, and just hope for the best.

However, it is incumbent upon all of us who see Trump’s ascendancy as the distressing reality that it is to ask ourselves one simple question, “What the fuck?!”

The real tragedy of the Trump presidency would be to fail to see the lessons of his coming into power and become discouraged and demoralized. We might well then become negligent in getting to work to turn our country’s destiny in a different direction.

In calling the time of Trump an extremity, I mean to call attention to the fact that, for better or worse, we have elected someone who highlights aspects of our culture that need to be changed.

If you hold it as I do that humanity is supported by various aspects of a spiritual network that includes our lineage and our spiritual guardians, you might feel as though they have let us down. Why would they let this happen?

My reading is that the election of Trump is a symptomatic breakdown of our civilization. It is a breakdown which forces us out of our comfort zone into a profound questioning of what is happening to us.

In our own personal experience, we encounter these symptomatic breakdowns just at those times when we fail to heed messages from our higher self that we need to make significant change in our lives.

For example, when my father died suddenly, I told myself that I didn’t need to grieve very much, that I didn’t have much unfinished business with my dad. Just as I was having this very thought, I ran through a red light right in front of a policeman.

I could give you many more personal examples. When we can’t get what we need to know through other means, our higher self conspires to arrange some outcome, usually of a disconcerting nature, which forces us to consider the meaningful connection between events and our attitudes and beliefs.

I believe the symptomatic breakdown serves the same purpose for our collective selves as it does for us individually. The spiritual powers that be have conspired to take us to this painful place as our needed wake-up call. We are caught up in a growth conspiracy, i.e., a circumstance that gives us the opportunity to transform and evolve.

Had Hillary won, it would have been business as usual. The progressive aspects of our society would have assumed all was well and have gone back to sleep.

Then, in 2018, the Democrats would have taken another clobbering in the House and Senate and in local races, just like in 2010. The Republicans would have become even more deeply entrenched in the Congress and in the state governments than they already are.

As it is now, the resist Trump movement has awakening many people to take political action who would have remained uninvolved before. People are starting to mobilize in large numbers and Trump has not yet been president for even two months.

I hate it like hell that we have come to the place where we need such desperate measures as electing Trump president. But here we are. We have to put our attention on what we can do to move away from this nadir of political reality.

Trump has the worst approval rating of any incoming president in the recent history of the nation. In many ways, what he represents is the complete inverse of what we need. He is the ultimate negative role model. Observe what he’s up to and then go 180 degrees in the other direction to find justice, peace, and sanity.

Although the Republican Party was loath to support Trump early on in the primary season, once he become the nominee and had a chance to be elected, they jumped on board the band wagon.

90% of self-described Republican voters voted for him and he still has the support of about 85% of those. The Republicans in Congress have to date done almost nothing to oppose any of Trump’s executive orders or cabinet picks with the one exception of his choice of labor secretary.

This means that Trump is the new face of the Republican Party and it will hard for them to disentangle themselves from this identification when his presidency finally implodes.

What we need to be about is creating a world which works for everyone not just for the privileged few. However, Trump is a stand for maintaining the privileges of the few. His slogans of “America First” and “Make America Great Again” embody this idea.

Although we constitute less that 5% of the world population, we use about a quarter of world natural resources and produce the second largest amount of green house gas pollution of any country behind only China. One-half of the world’s solid waste comes from the United States.

Trump’s attitude is we’ll do what’s best for America and to hell with the rest of the world.

This view is incredibly short-sighted. If we do not develop an ecological intelligence about how we impact the planet, we will contribute to making a world that does not work for anyone. Whether we like it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all residents of one planet in human sourced ecological crisis.

At this moment, the political figures in power are the most anti-science and environmentally oblivious of any in the history of our entire nation. Almost all of these are Republicans. As Trump’s presidency contributes to the relative demise of the Republican Party, the entire world will be served.

Of course, not all people in the United States are part of the privileged few that Trump wants to lead. Make American Great again is part of a campaign of religious and ethnic diversity intolerance. If you’re Christian and you’re white, you’re part of the Trump nation, but not if you’re Muslim, an immigrant, or an undocumented person.

Trump’s triumph in the election was due in no small part to his implied promise to restore white dominance and privilege after a period when a black man was president.

Seeing ourselves as one global family has to start in our own country with diversity sensitivity, acceptance, and tolerance. Whatever greatness American has achieved, and whatever it will achieve, is due in small part to the fact that we are a melting pot of the entire world.

The planet as a whole and the United States in particular is becoming a more tolerant place. Legalization of gay marriage and gays and transgender people participating openly in the military are just two examples. Unfortunately, this tide of liberalization is met with fierce resistance by those in our country and in the world who see this as the disintegration of civilization.

Trump is on the wrong side of history here and his ascendancy will not reverse the trend towards justice, tolerance, and diversity acceptance. Because he is out of step with what is happening nationally and globally, whatever he does along the lines of trying to institute white nationalism will serve to create an opponent process that mobilizes political action not only against him, but against Republicans in general.

We can help define ourselves politically by recognizing what we are clearly opposed to in our country.

The response to his ban on people coming in from Muslim majority countries is one example of this. It’s not a secret that this policy was instituted to be a Muslim ban that could stand up to legal scrutiny.

Although they may not comfortable with him and some of his policies, the Republican politicians have so far fallen in line behind Trump because they share some of the same investment in what could we could call the conservative corporate complex.

To my knowledge Bill Moyers was the first person to use this term in an article called “Welcome to the Plutocracy.”

Corporations are by their very nature and design self-serving entities. They will do pretty much whatever they can get away with to thrive and prosper. All that stands between them and the destruction of our ecosphere through unchecked corporate greed are government regulations and political intervention.

Unfortunately, many of our politicians are mere puppets of the corporations. They are dependent upon them for the money to win their campaigns and stay in office. The corporate corruption of our society extends to people of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

However, the Republicans as the traditionally business friendly party, are ideologically invested in promoting the welfare of corporations even when it results in the detriment of the average citizen and the environment.

Conservatism is a political philosophy which has a long and proud history of trying to maintain certain values, ideals, and principles which are believed to be for the collective good.

But Trump’s perversion of conservatism seeks to conserve power and privilege by using whatever means necessary. It’s an uncompassionate conservatism of diversity intolerance.

One thing that Trump’s presidency does is to highlight the unsoundness of the some of the basic premises upon which the conservative corporate complex depend to maintain their political hegemony.

For example, many people accept the idea that whatever is good for business must be good for everyone. After all profitable businesses result in jobs and employment.

Regardless of what may have been true in the past, this idea is not longer tenable. The profits of corporations are at unprecedented levels while the wages of people who work for them below the level of corporate management have been almost flat since the 1980s.

The corporate bosses and their investors are experiencing tremendous increases in wealth but everyone else is treading water economically.

Trump was able to persuade large number of working class people that he was on their side and that he would be their champion. However, when you look at the people he’s put into his cabinet, what you see is a plutocrat picking other plutocrats to run the government.

Trump made the argument that he was too rich to be corrupted. Rich people don’t need to resort to corruption because they are already wealthy. But the richer you are, the more you have to protect, and concerns about preservation of wealth usually come before a focus on improving wealth inequality.

Moreover, many of the rich become so because they engaged in unethical practices as Trump did when he refused to pay all of his construction workers and manipulated the bankruptcy system to avoid paying the full measure of his debts.

Although there are some very rich people who are trying to improve the welfare of everyone, Bill Gates, for example, it should become more apparent with the Trump presidency that you can’t trust the very rich to take care of the common man.

With respect to the question of how long we have to put up with Trump as president, my reading is about one calendar year. Trump is our most corrupt president ever. He has done and will continue to do many official government acts which support his bottom line.

Just one example is how he goes to his Mar-A-Lago property in Florida on a regular basis. This is using the government for your personal benefit as every visit there enhances the reputation and bottom line of that particular business enterprise.

It will take a while for Trump’s connection with Russian oligarchs to come fully to light. A turning point will be when his tax records are subpoenaed by a congressional committee. The Republican leadership don’t want to blow Trump out of the water too soon because they hold out hope that he will be amenable to their legislative agenda.

But the lies will catch up with Trump and he will be forced to resign. Then, unfortunately, we will have President Pence. By this time though the Republicans will be tarred with Trump’s corruption, lies, and deceit.

In summary, Trump is the vehicle for the opponent process we need and the negative role model to help us resist the environmental, economic, and political injustice that he champions.

However, there is yet another dimension to Trump’s presidency that must be underlined. In addition to the ordinary meaning of political injustice where one group tries to oppress people of lesser power and influence, Trump takes political injustice to levels seldom seen in America.

For Trump is trying to persuade everyone that his twisted and distorted view of reality is what we should all accept and embrace. When you are able to control someone’s sense of what is real and unreal, this is ultimate control. It is what we witness in cults.

Many of Trump’s followers do seem to have a cult mentality. They accept whatever he says as true and adjust their picture of reality accordingly. In one survey, for example, 38% of Trump voters believed that George Soros paid the people in the Women’s March to be there.

Trump says that the reason he lost the popular vote is because there was massive voter fraud, that we face an immigrant menace, and that we’ll be safer if he succeeds in banning people coming in from some countries with predominantly Muslim populations.

But, of course, there was no voter fraud, massive or otherwise. Immigrants actually have lower crime rates than the general population and there have been exactly 0 deaths of Americans on American soil by terrorism from the citizens of any of the countries he wants to ban since 1975.

If he can get enough people to buy into his false reality based on his alternative facts, then this will be more leverage for him to spent more money on defense at the expense of the rest of the budget and proceed unimpeded with his white nationalist agenda.

This tyranny of perception and information control is what Bush used to justify his invasion of Iraq in 2003. Bush managed to sell his fantasy that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that these were a threat to us. But, of course, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

So, what is that we can do to turn this political nightmare around?

I’m planning to write a series of Trump blogs and I’ll have suggestions in each one for action steps we can take. For now, let’s start with something elementary that is easy to do and also a way to increase our mental health index.

My recommendation is to not look at any live Trump event such as a speech or news conference. What Trump says in these events are often not a reliable index of what he really stands for or what he is likely to do in the future. He doesn’t write these speeches and no one has yet solved the mystery of how Trump’s policy positions, such as they are, come to be in their final form.

To stay informed read commentaries and especially the fact checking segments.

I call for a world-wide boycott for all products and services associated with Trump and any of his businesses. Trump will not remain president for long if it’s clear that this is going to cause his business empire to tank.

Bear in mind that there will be an end to this political wilderness. My reading is that Trump will be a short term and temporary president.

The unthinkable has happened and Donald Trump is going to be our next president. He won because he was able to motivate the voters sympathetic to him to turn out while the people of the Obama coalition did not vote in sufficient numbers for Clinton.

The turnout of 131 million was about 57% of the eligible voters. This means that nearly 100 million people who were eligible did not vote. Just over one quarter of the eligible voting population put Trump into power.

There was a prevailing false perception that Clinton’s victory was inevitable, and this perception was supported by polling data which didn’t embody the full story of what people were thinking.

My personal election forecast was almost completely wrong. It was Trump who won almost all of the swing states and Republicans also won almost all of the close Senate races including one in Wisconsin that was not supposed to be close.

In addition, Trump won Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. A Republican sweep of these states had not happened since 1988.

On election night I thought to myself, “This has got to be just a bad dream. I’ll wake up in the morning and everything will be as it should.”

But the reality is that the Republicans now have control of the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress as well as the prospect of tilting the Supreme Court to the right for many years to come.

In thinking about the consequences of Trump as president, it’s easy to succumb to despair, cynicism, and hopelessness about the future.

Yet is important that we do not indulge ourselves in apocalyptic narratives of how Trump’s time as president will be. If the future is going to be as terrible as we imagine it to be, then we are both hopeless and helpless. From this perspective, we cannot envision any path to empowerment or any meaningful course of action.

To the extent that we are focusing our attention on what we don’t want, we’re sabotaging ourselves by making this more likely to happen.

I feel it’s important not to overreact to what has transpired so that we can deal with challenges as they actually occur and not waste our energies in worry and anxiety about things that could happen but don’t.

This is not to say that I feel that we’ve made a good choice for president. I believe that Trump will turn out to be one of our worst presidents.

Yet things are not quite what they seem. There is light behind this dark cloud and this light is more than just a silver lining.

I’ve come to this conclusion through reflection on my process of forecasting the election results. Every time I attempted a remote preview of the election, I got a sense of reassurance. I took this to mean that my predictions for a Democratic wave were on target, that Hillary would win, and the Democrats would gain control of the Senate.

Moreover, my dreams during the time of working up the election forecast were positive and reinforcing. I took this to mean I was on the right track.

My normal reaction to a prediction which is so completely off as to be reversed is to feel mortified and very unhappy with myself. But this is not how I felt at all.

Something else is happening. I believe my Guidance was pointing me in the direction of this light behind the cloud. I mistook this direction guidance as validation for how I thought things were going to turn out on November 8th.

For sure, to some extent things are just as bad as they seem. Trump has the power to countermand all of Obama’s executive orders. Some of these orders were supportive of the environment and better immigration policy.

Yet, beyond the issuing of executive orders, Trump does not have the power to unilaterally effect the policies he championed in his campaign. For example, without congressional action, he can’t build a wall with Mexico or prevent Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

We still have separation of powers in our democracy and the whole is stronger than any one of its parts.

Trump needs the cooperation of Congress. One of the unintended consequences of his election is the prospect of Democrats and Republicans coming together in a bipartisan way to thwart Trump’s extreme policies.

The Democrats still have filibuster power in the Senate and they will use that power to oppose Trump’s agenda.

There is going to be a big discrepancy between what Trump said in his campaign and what he’ll actually do or try to do. Trump took extreme positions as a way of throwing red meat to his base, and also because he gained media attention with every controversy.

This doesn’t mean he is committed to any of these things. If fact, we know very little of what Trump actually stands for.

My reading is that four years is the limit of Trump as president. Trump gained a lot of political leverage by being the anti-establishment candidate. But now, he is the establishment. He is the government.

Whatever popularity he has will plummet when he can’t deliver on his promises to make life better for those who feel left out of the system.

So, if he were to run in four years, he couldn’t win. It’s not going to take long for voter remorse to set in. Those voters who project their unhappiness onto the government and how it operates now have a new target.

Because Trump got to be where he is by ignoring conventional political norms, there is no reason to believe he will act any differently as president. He is a man who doesn’t respect boundaries or limits. This though makes him vulnerable to impeachment. He will have to change his act to some degree or face the prospect of being thrown out of office.

At 70 Trump is the oldest person who has ever been elected president. Being president is one of the world’s most stressful jobs. You can see our presidents visibly age in their tenures.

Trump is not as healthy as he claims and being president is not going to make him any healthier.

Moreover, I don’t see Trump being happy in his role as president. The journey is going to turn out to be way more fun than the destination.

Being president requires tremendous attention to detail, responsibility, and obligation. Trump is used to being the center of his own self-designed universe. As president he’s not going to be in control of his life, and especially his business interests, to a degree that he has never experienced before.

As things stand currently, there is one vacancy on the Supreme Court. If he were president for eight years, he could dramatically change the court. However, he is not going to be around that long.

Although Democrats can filibuster individual nominees, I don’t see them keeping Trump from putting at least one person on the Court.

Then the court would be similar to how it was when Scalia was still alive. This is not optimal, but still not the worst case scenario.

Had Clinton won and the Democrats not gained control of the Senate, we would have had major stalemate in government again. It would be very hard for her to enact any of her progressive initiatives. Then, in 2018, the Democrats would be vulnerable to losing more seats in Congress in the off year election.

As it stands now, it’s the Republicans who are vulnerable to losing seats and their majorities are not robust. There will be 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats and Independents in the Senate in the next Congress.

Clinton had great ideas and would have been a capable leader, but she is not the charismatic figure that can inspire a populist movement.

The unhappiness and discontent that Trump exploited for his election win is not going to disappear with him.

Now the door is open for a new Democratic leader to come forth that can champion the perceived need for positive change. This positive change is the light behind the cloud. It is sourced in a progressive movement that is birthed by opposition to the Trump presidency.

It’s a sad commentary on our society that we have to hit bottom politically before we are mobilized into action. But that is how it is and this is our way forward, however painful it turns out to be in the short run.

For sure, Trump is going to be a disaster for the environment and this has global implications. But this is also going to inspire people who have environmental concerns to get involved. These are issues which can transcend partisan politics.

Trump as commander-in-chief is a scary prospect. My reading though is that Trump is not going to involve America in new wars. His America First policy is really an isolationist stance.

From his narcissistic personality perspective, he doesn’t really care what is happening in other places in the world as long as he perceives that it doesn’t direct affect us. His attitude will be to let someone else be the policeman of the world.

Trump is a terrible role model as our leader. Among other flaws, he has proved himself to be a diversity insensitive human being. He will be somewhat better as president.

My reading is that he will very quickly come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want to be president for eight years.

With no need to run for re-election, the Trump reality show is really at an end and he can stop trying to impress his base with how politically incorrect he can be. Moreover, the gravity of the office will have some mollifying effect on his behavior, albeit much less than we would like. He now has all of the attention that even he could want. He doesn’t need to act out to get more.

My conclusion is that we do have the prospect of a positive future. The crisis we are in is both danger and opportunity. We have to get to work to start building that future in what we do today and tomorrow by treating ourselves, others, and the environment with dignity, love, and respect. It is up to us to be the role models that we have been hoping for.

We will have the future that we make.

If you have been concerned about how the election is going to turn out in the last couple of weeks and been turning a little blue, it’s time to finally exhale. The Trump apocalypse is not happening.

What I see is a Democratic wave coming on Tuesday that will make Clinton president and also give Democrats control of the Senate. The House will remain in Republican control but their majority will be reduced by half.

I see the Democrats outperforming the polls and winning all the blue states and all of the swing states plus all of the close Senate races.

I have Clinton with 347 electoral votes and Trump 191.

I see the following states in the blue column: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine plus both of the districts, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

I see Trump winning the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska plus all districts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

On the Senate side, I see the Democrats winning a seat currently held by a Republican incumbent in the following states: Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

I also see Democrats winning in open seat contests in California, Maryland, Nevada, and Indiana. The Republicans will eventually win the open Senate seat in Louisiana although there will have to be a run-off. The incumbents in both parties will win all the other seats.

This will give the Democrats a net of plus 7 seats in the Senate and their majority will then be 51 Democrats and 2 Independents to 47 Republicans.

We are now less than two months from the presidential election of 2016. If you ever had any doubt that our society is in crisis, the nature of this year’s political season should give you pause. We are indeed living in unprecedented times.

It’s Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump. How did we get here? What is the significance of this election and, most importantly, who is going to win and why?

Even if you have already decided that Clinton is a better choice than Trump, it is still important to understand how Trump got to be one of two people who could be the next President of the United States. Clinton is a known political entity, but what does the Trump candidacy tell us about the future of our political process going forward?

Let’s begin by looking at the motivations of the people at the top of their tickets. Why is Clinton running for president and why is Trump doing so?

I think it’s fair to say that anyone running for president has at least some motivation to attempt to shape the world according to their view of how things should be. It’s also true that politicians have personal ambitions and goals in addition to their mission to change the world according to their beliefs.

With respect to Hillary, one of her personal ambitions is to be the first woman president and open doors of possibility for women. She has also a lot she wants to accomplish that she believes will empower our citizens. When you look at her personal history, you see someone motivated by a mission of service.

With Trump on the other hand, my reading is that his primary motivation for running for president is self-promotion. This is not so unusual. If you look at the people running for president in the last two cycles, you see several people with that motive, especially on the Republican side. They don’t have any realistic chance of winning. But they know if they run, they can gain attention and lucrative speaking and media gigs later.

So, was Trump’s entry into the Republican primary race a stunt that got out of control? There has been a lot of speculation that some of the more self-damaging things Trump has done in his campaign are a sign that he doesn’t really want to be president.

My reading is no. I believe he went in thinking he could be the Republican nominee and eventually president. Trump run for president is a rebranding effort. It’s an attempt to move his career from that of businessman and professional celebrity to being the bully in the White House. He wants to be for the United States what Putin is for Russia.

Trump’s self-interested motivations for running are problematic in more than one way. It’s pretty evident that he has narcissistic personality disorder. Thus, he has an oversized ego and is somewhat delusional with respect to who he is and what he can do. I imagine he thought to himself, “I can do this. It’s not so hard. People will flock to my campaign.”

As it turned out, he received 14 million votes in the Republican primary and defeated 16 rivals, including some very well funded opponents and conservative icons.

Running for president feeds his pathological need for attention and assures him the spotlight, at least for the time being. If he wins the White House, his brand is triumphant and this will move his business ventures to unprecedented levels of success.

However, along with the attention of being the Republican nominee, there is increased scrutiny about all aspects of Trump’s life.

If you look at how Trump has conducted his campaign and look at his past life from a nonpartisan perspective, you cannot help but come to the conclusion that Donald J. Trump is a thoroughly dishonorable human being. By this I mean he is someone who has a consistent pattern of lying, cheating, and stealing.

It would be a book length treatment to detail these misdeeds, so let’s just look at a couple of telling indicators. With respect to lying, PolitiFact, a fact checking organization, rated 72% of Trump’s public remarks about factual circumstances as false. That means that nearly three-fourths of the time he’s not speaking the truth whenever he purports to cite factual support for what he says.

We don’t know for sure how many of the falsehoods that come out of Trump’s mouth are deliberate lies and how many are a result of his uncritically accepting whatever he takes on from the alt-right propaganda mill.

In any case, Trump doesn’t seem to be concerned with veracity. He’s interested in the impact of what he says. He’s following the sociopath’s credo: what sells is right, good, and true.

With respect to cheating and stealing, you only have to look at the 3,500 lawsuits that have been filed against Trump in his business career. To detail these would require another book.

If Trump is indeed so dishonorable, how did he get this far? How does he get away with it? Trump has said things in his time as a candidate that would have ended the candidacy of anyone else.

If you look at his disapproval numbers, you might think he is not getting away with it: 34% approve and 61% disapprove of him. However, Clinton’s are almost as bad: 39% approve of her candidacy and 55% disapprove. Although Clinton has a clear lead at this time, the outcome of the election is still in doubt.

There is no doubt that Trump has a passionate partisan following that is willing to overlook his faults or put them into some context where they are perceived to support their world view.

This is no accident. In addition to his narcissism, Trump has a sociopathic personality disorder. This means that he is skilled in manipulating others without regard to the consequences. He feels no guilt or shame in tricking people. In fact, he delights in it and brags about it.

Let’s put aside psychological diagnosis and just call this “mind-fucking.” By this I meant Trump is highly skilled in getting people to believe what he wants them to believe irrespective of evidence, facts, or common sense.

In Trump’s ghost written book The Art of the Deal, it reads in part: “I play to people’s fantasies… People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

At one point in his campaign, Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Part of Trump’s self-promotion motivation for running for president is to further his acting ambitions. Trump is an actor always playing himself. Thus his campaign is to a large extent performance art. It’s the performance art of mind-fuckery.

The smug looks of self-satisfaction he always seem to have shows us how much he loves playing this game. He’s assuring himself a privileged place in the Mind-Fuckers Hall of Fame.

We can easily envision him recruiting ghost writers for his next best sellers: The Art of the Insult and A Primer on Politically Incorrect Speech: How to Get Away with Saying Absolutely Anything.

Trump is running his campaign on the model of a reality TV show. Success is measured in terms of ratings. The more attention you get the better, even if it is attention for deplorable things you say or do.

From this model it’s possible to run an entire political operation without the usual encumbrances of a traditional campaign. You don’t need to run very many ads, you don’t need a big staff, you don’t need record breaking amounts of money, you don’t need to depend on super PACS, and you can be very selective about where you do campaign appearances and who you talk to.

However, it’s imperative to dominate the news cycles as much as you can. So Trump has to keep making outrageous statements so the media will keeps their focus on him and relatively ignore the Democratic candidate.

Especially when he is ad libbing as opposed to reading off a teleprompter, Trump’s speaking style is usually an attempt to arouse an emotional reaction in his audience rather than to convey a substantive point. At the same time, he is trying to influence you with respect to what he wants you to believe.

Trump tries to steer away from definite policy statements whenever he can. “My voters don’t care and the public doesn’t care,” he said in a Time Magazine interview.

The emotional content of his speech activates the sympathetic nervous system and so the higher brain centers are not as fully engaged. Then he can convey messages directly to the unconscious.

A full inventory of Trump’s mind-fucking tricks would require another book and this time it would a text on critical thinking. Some examples will have to suffice.

Speaking of the prospect of Hillary Clinton’s picks for the Supreme Court, he said, “If she gets to pick her judges—nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know.”

This comes pretty close to advocating violence. Note though that Trump is not stating directly that people should take up weapons to overturn the results of the election. He’s just referring to it as something that might happen.

He puts it into the space and then he backs off from it by saying, “I don’t know.” Thus he avoids responsibility for what he just put out that may motivate crazy people to do violent things.

Trump often uses this insinuation trick to bring up topics which are too incendiary to be stated in a straightforward way when he wants to convey suspicion without evidence, proof, or facts.

He will say for example, “something is going on,” or “people are saying.” But he never tells you what he thinks is going on or what people he’s talking about. This gives the imagination of the listener an opportunity to create their own dark scenarios. He is encouraging a conspiracy mind set where the government and media are seen as being totally corrupt.

In another case Trump said, “And, by the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.”

The crowd roars approval and overlooks the fact that Trump is advocating that we should go to war over a gesture. The message conveyed is how tough Trump will be as president and how nobody will be able to get away with insulting the United States again.

When Trump was confronted with the patent falsehood of his statement that “Obama founded ISIS,” he said he was just being sarcastic. It’s like saying, it’s just a joke. But he later said, “Obviously I’m being sarcastic. Then — but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you.”

In this case, he is trying to evade responsibility for his statement while at the same time reassuring his base that he really meant it.

This is typical of Trump’s modus operandi. He’s constantly changing what his positions are to avoid criticism.

This is another mind-fucking trick. Keep people in the dark about what you really mean and where you really stand while at the same time communicating to your base through these insinuations and innuendoes that he’s still going to be the hard line president he promised to be when he made the most outrageous claims.

He wants more moderate voters to hear that he has backed off of some of his most extreme statements while at the same time sending reassurances to his hard core right wing supporters.

Trump would like us to believe that America is falling apart and headed for disaster at every turn and only he can save us. You just have to trust him to be the strong leader we need in a time of increasing chaos and disorder.

For example in his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention he said, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

I think his sociopathic tendencies show here because he seems to be saying that it takes a corrupt person to fix a corrupt system. In any case, even if he did understand the corruption better than anyone, it doesn’t follow that he has the remedies to fix the system or that he is the only one who does.

Trump, the president candidate, is a fictional character that Trump the actor created in an attempt to mythologize himself into someone supremely competent and intelligent who can effect immediate change through the force of his will. Trump touts himself as someone who always gets his way.

If we look at Trump’s real life, of course, this is far from true. He has had four business bankruptcies and two divorces to name just a few of Trump’s less than all powerful outcomes. However, his character, the person he played on The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice, always wins.

Although Trump the candidate is a fiction, some people buy into the mythological persona he promotes. Ann Coulter, for example, wrote a book entitled In Trump We Trust. I think she must be thinking that demagogue means demigod.

Jon Voight, the actor, compared Trump to Mother Teresa and Albert Schweitzer. He was being completely sincere in saying this.

The world view that seems to motivate Trump’s political ambitions comes from the extreme fringe of the right wing of the political spectrum. He espouses the politics of the alt-right.

The alt-right is a political movement that supports white identity politics. They take Trump’s signature line “Make America Great Again” to mean “Make America White Again.”

Alt-right is the home base of angry and fear based white men who feel like their identity is being threatened by the changes that are happening in our society.

They are a diversity phobic group that includes elements which are overtly racist, anti-feminist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant. They share Donald’s vision of a Crippled America (the title of Trump’s book), and they look to radically change society to expunge the perceived toxic elements of multiculturism.

We know that Trump is aligned with the alt-right because he’s taken on Steven Bannon as the chief executive of his campaign. Bannon is the executive chairman of a web-site called Breitbart News. Bannon says this is a platform for the alt-right.

Here are some of the recent headlines of Breitbart News. “Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield.” “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.” “The Solution to Online Harassment is Simple: Women Should Log Off.”

Clinton said that half of Trump’s supporters are “deplorables” and this is the group she is talking about. The alt-right is now taking on this ascription so they can be proud and unapologetic deplorables, meaning that their vision of how society should be is indeed radically different from the mainstream.

However, these extreme right wing people cannot be the entirety of Trump’s support. Clinton pegging them as about half is probably right. The election would not be close if these were the only supporters he had.

Trump’s candidacy resonates with a larger group of disaffected people who are sympathetic to some degree with his campaign.

The Trump phenomenon is rooted in choices people make about how to make sense of the changes that are happening in our society.

There is a sense of disturbance in our collective consciousness because we know that our future is not going to be like our past. Basic questions of existence can then come up. These are issues of identity about who we are, where we fit in, and what is worth doing.

This sense of existential crisis can manifest as a mood I called existential intensity. Then you experience excitement, anticipation, the sense of it being a meaningful time coupled with uncertainty, anxiety, and apprehension.

Some of us are able to embrace change and, when we do, we’re more likely to experience a skew towards the more positive emotions of excitement, anticipation and meaning. But, if we have a mind-set that resists change and see it in a negative perspective as a catastrophic loss of the familiar, then uncertainty, anxiety, and apprehension will be prominent.

The Chinese symbol for crisis illustrates this duality well as it’s made up of the characters for opportunity and danger.

Many of the really big challenges we face at this time in our civilization are global in nature. But often people lack the ability to see things in a bigger framework of meaning beyond their own immediate concerns.

The temptation is to focus attention on some outside group that can be seen as the problem. Fear and anger towards something definite is preferable to a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about a future that may seem beyond our control. A fortress mentality can develop that wants to wall off the local identity group from the problems happening in the world at large.

If external threats can be identified, there is a sense of relief in having something to project your negative emotions upon. This takes the focus away from any need for self-examination or change. Whatever is unfamiliar can be made into the enemy.

You can blame the designated others for whatever struggles you are having in your life or that you anticipate for the future. The focus goes to attempting to restore the past when diversities had less prominence and little or no power. Thus we get to “Make America Great Again.”

This reactionary political element will still be with us if Trump loses in November. However, it’s unlikely that another figure will be able to embody it as effectively as Trump has been doing in this election cycle.

Because the ideological balance of the Supreme Court is at stake, many Republicans are choosing party over country and supporting Trump even though they are repelled by his political affiliations.

So even though Trump has turned off many Republicans, he still has the support of the Republican Party. As the party hasn’t disowned him, this means he’s going to get a lot of partisan Republican votes and so he will win almost all of the red states.

There are several other factors that are keeping Trump afloat in spite of his repugnant politics.

Because the word “trump” has the connotation of being a decisive, overriding factor, this supports the mythology of his cult of personality.

Like most sociopaths, Trump can be very charming and engaging. He’s so good at being bad that we are captivated by what he’s going to say next. It’s like looking forward to the next chapter in a compelling novel to see what the character is going to do. Trump keeps us focused on him with his daily outrage.

We tend to like whatever is familiar to us and Trump is a genius at gaining attention. Clinton is also a celebrity, of course. She was well liked when she was in a prominent position as first lady and Secretary of State and in the news frequently. But she has been out of the news and thus outside of our attention for much of the election cycle. She just cannot compete with Trump in showmanship.

Because Trump is a celebrity and an actor, we tend to not hold him accountable to usual moral standards. The personae of actors are fictions. Actors are just who we want them to be. They are projections of our imagination and there is willful suspension of disbelief that they could be in any way dishonorable.

Thus O.J. Simpson was acquitted in his murder trial in spite of strong DNA evidence and his flight from the police.

Trump also has the novelty factor going for him. For sure, if we elect him, the established political order will not be the same. His way of trying to capitalize on this is to say, “What the hell do you have to lose?” I’m looking for the “What the Hell” placards to appear at Trump rallies. But, I guess we won’t see these because his rallies are made up almost entirely of partisans and not people on the fence.

Because Clinton is a woman running for president, sexism becomes an issue in the campaign. The same angry and fearful white men who feel threatened by change also feel threatened by having a woman in charge of the country.

Throughout history, women with political ambitions have been considered a threat to the hegemony of male domination. Just as the election of President Obama brought racism into the political conversation, the prospect of a woman president does the same for sexism. The prospect of change brings about a backlash to change.

Lastly, Clinton has weaknesses as a candidate. She has not succeeded to date in putting forward a compelling narrative of how electing her will make a positive difference.

If the Democrats can survive this election, then the progressive and liberal momentum in our society can move forward and our country can manifest much more of its great potential. Demographic changes are on the side of the Democrats, and it’s unclear how Republicans will be able to successfully reinvent themselves after a Trump loss.

If Trump wins, then we’re thrust in an Orwellian dystopia that will make the novel 1984 seem understated by comparison.

My forecast is that Clinton will win the election in spite of the factors mentioned above. The antiquated Electoral College system heavily favors Democrats since the biggest concentration of population in our country is on the coasts where the Democrats have mostly solid blue states.

Clinton only needs a handful of swing states to win but Trump needs them all.

Clinton’s best poll numbers happened right after the two conventions when people could compare the two campaigns one right after the other. Trump numbers crept up steadily later when Clinton was not much in the public eye and getting bad press about issues like email and having pneumonia.

When you put them on the stage together for a political debate, it’s going to be hard for Trump to play his usual games. The focus will be on policies and, in that respect, Trump is all hat and no cattle.

Trump’s admission that Obama was born in the United States was the single most damaging day in his entire political career. Now the focus shifts to Trump’s lies and his persona is cracked.

This is the high point of his political ascendancy. His poll numbers are going to go steadily down from this moment forward. The truth about Trump is going to bleed through the hype and, although his partisans will be unswayed, the independent voters will take notice.

It’s easy to imagine scenarios that skew the outcome in Trump’s favor like unexpected world events. However, I don’t see anything coming into play before the election. The October surprise will be that Trump won’t show up for all of the debates.

Now more than ever politics matters.

Our society has been traumatized by police killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, near St. Paul, Minnesota and by a shooting rampage in Dallas that killed 5 and wounded 9 others. Hundreds have been arrested in protests that followed the police killings and several police officers have been hurt when objects were thrown at them.

The first incident happened on July 5 in Baton Rouge. Two white police officers were videoed shooting Alton Sterling, a black man, several times at point blank range after he had been tackled by officers.

In Minnesota, on July 6, a Latino police officer fatally shot Philando Castile, also black, multiple times during a traffic stop.

On July 7, Micah Xavier Johnson, shot fourteen people from a sniper position. Two were civilians and 12 officers. 4 Dallas Police Department officers died as well as and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer.

Johnson, who is black, said he wanted to kill white people and especially police officers in response to the police killings of the previous two days. After a standoff, he was killed by an explosive charge delivered by a robot.

Further investigation revealed that he had been training and making preparations for a mass killing for a long time and had been influenced by black militant groups although he disavowed membership in any organization or group.

Although we may feel powerless in the face of these tragedies that come one right after the other, we always have a measure of freedom with respect to choosing our attitude, intention, and behavior with respect to these events.

I want to argue that how we respond to these searing moments of societal discord makes all the difference in how the future will unfold for us as a society and as a civilization.

It is apparent that in our country, and to a lesser and greater degree throughout the world, we are facing unprecedented challenges and that people have responded to this constellation with fear, upset, anger, and distrust of government and authorities of all stripes.

Although this crisis of disaffection and discontent that we face has many roots, one key element is the pace of change happening around us. The comfort zone of what is familiar is being obliterated at a frightening pace. We can’t count on the future being like the past and so we are unable to predict with any confidence what is going to happen even months ahead.

As Yogi Berra might have said: “It’s hard to predict the future because it hasn’t happened yet.”

As individuals, when we face uncertainty, our unconscious minds often generate worst case scenarios as a kind of preparation where the unknown means disaster. This survival motivated fear may have served us well in our earlier history as a species but it is still with us today. So the uncertainty of the challenges we face creates a collective sense of anxiety and fear that is part of the background mood of our world.

The unhappiness we feel is proportional to the discrepancy between our reality and our expectations based on what we know to be possible.

With our amazing technology we should be able to create a world where everyone has all of their basic needs met, where there is universal health care, access to higher education and an opportunity to pursue our life dreams without having to indenture ourselves to jobs that are not fulfilling just to avoid falling completely through the cracks of economic necessity.

We’re living in a time of increasing economic disparity between the richest and the rest of us to a degree that has not happened in our country since just before the Great Depression.

Minority groups and especially the black community are also subjected to racial disparity in law enforcement. The Black Lives Matter movement is a Civil Right Movement that has the aim of moving towards justice on these issues.

The racial tensions that have come into play in this latest spate of violence are important issues and they rest on top of other stresses in our society.

Both black and white have died in this recent outbreak and this underscores the common cause that we need to rally around in order to have a just and safe society that works for everyone.

The unhappiness that we feel about our society generates an undertow of negativity. If we internalize this, we feel guilt and shame. If it gets externalized, then it goes to blame. In blaming we are vulnerable to projecting our personal shadows onto some other group we identify as different from ourselves. Blame can easily morph into hate and hate can lead to moral insanity.

Micah Johnson is the very archetype of moral insanity where someone engages in horrific acts that, although not psychotic per se, yet take humans into a dark abyss of empathic blindness and moral insensitivity.

We hope that Johnson is some rare aberration of human nature. Yet we are all subject to temporary moral insanity ourselves. In our rush to express ourselves, we can totally lose sight of the impact we have on others.

The Black Lives Matter Movement has legitimate grievances that need to be expressed and peaceful protest can be one avenue. Yet they and any other protest oriented group needs to be wary of going to a place where they hate the haters and act out this hate. Hate is an equal opportunity employer.

There was a protest by two white supremacist groups in Sacramento, California on June 26. A left-wing counter protest was organized against them and a riot ensued. Ten people were hospitalized. The supremacist groups were the Traditional Workers Party and Golden State Skinheads and the left-wing groups were ANTIFA (Anti-Fascist Action) Sacramento and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary).

I imagine we’ll see protests against Donald Trump in the coming campaign season and there may well be more violence there.

Hopelessness and despair about our society are our true adversaries. From the perspective that nothing we do is going to make any difference anyway, there may be motivation to burn down everything in sight since at least we could gain the secondary benefit of emotional release and getting our aggressions out.

The way forward for our civilization is evolution not revolution. Evolution is already happening on a daily basis and the progress we’ve made is truly stunning in just the last few years.

The cold war is over, there is no longer any prospect of war between big nation states, apartheid has ended in South Africa, there is peace in Northern Ireland, we’ve elected and re-elected a black president, we opened the military to both gays and transgender people, gay marriage is the law in every state, and we’ll soon have our first female president.

Because of our communication technologies, whatever injustice happens in our country and the world is rapidly transmitted in often graphic image form for all to see. Whether we like it or not, we’re all part of an increasing integrated global society.

What we do in one part of our country quickly affects everyone everywhere. This gives us the opportunity to grow our moral and spiritual intelligence through education, information, and example.

One down side is that news has become a big commercial entertainment enterprise and we’re subjected to the emotional amplification of drama on a daily basis. We can’t escape knowing what is happening in the world for very long.

What we do with this information is key to whether or not our society will growth and reach its potential where everyone can thrive or whether we devolve into a failed civilization of ongoing dystopia.

It’s important for us to grieve and feel the pain of our loss when we hear of the shooting deaths like what we’ve been through in the first days of July. But then we need to dust ourselves off and refocus our attention and our action on what kind of world we want to have.

We could have mandatory police body cameras for example, universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and a reform of racially biased sentencing laws.

The Dallas Police Force, the target of Johnson’s moral insanity, had already instituted police reforms that dramatically reduced the number of complaints about police actions. This can happen in other cities.

Whatever positive thing we do, even the smallest act of kindness or consideration to another human, will move our society forward. We not a hopeless, broken, or defective civilization. We are just a rapidly evolving one. We need to keep the big picture in view even as we go through these breakdowns where what needs to be healed comes to our awareness.

It’s a big error in perspective to judge how viable and functional our society is on the actions of those living out the worst aspects of their human nature. Who we are as a people is a measure of how resilient we can be when we are forced to confront the darkest aspects of our potential.

Right now in our country, the forces that would embrace progressive change and those that want to regress to the past and arrest cultural transformation seem to be almost evenly balanced.

Every progressive movement is met with a regressive backlash that tries to reverse it. For example, President Obama’s health care initiative, which made health care available to millions of new people, was met with a fierce resistance and was partly the cause of big political losses in the House and Senate in the midterm elections for the Democratic Party.

The result is the movement towards a more just and equitable society where everyone can thrive is going to be a spiral progress with steps forward and then steps back or no steps at all for a while. In the long run though, the momentum towards a more progressive and just society cannot be stopped.

The reason for this is that our technologically enhanced world with its easily accessible communication resources means that people are growing in intellectual, spiritual, and moral intelligence. People are becoming more tolerant of diversity and less accepting of moral outrage and injustice.

It’s important to keep refocusing back to the kind of world we really want when the one that we currently have presents us with heartbreak and tragedy. Our perceived sense of reality turns out to be directly related to what we give our attention to.

We need to maintain a positive attitude about our society as it is to move it forward and resist the temptation to uncritically accept what the fear merchants are selling. Trump’s book Crippled America is one example of this.

If we take on the worst case scenarios about our country, then extreme measures seem appropriate. Then someone like Trump, the autocrat, or Bernie, the socialist, seems to be just who we need.

But we don’t need desperate measures to change our civilization. Change is on the way, in any case, and our role is to adapt to it one small step at a time and shape this change in a positive and progressive direction.

The trend towards economic globalization, for example, is not going to stop. Any country that resorts to isolationism will suffer immediate economic downturn as the British experienced after their vote to leave the European Union. They were the fifth largest economy in the world one day and sixth the day after the vote.

The most pressuring danger our civilization faces is in environment degradation through man-made driven climate change. However, we’re not going to be able to meet this challenge until we are able to address issues of political, economic, and social injustice. It’s hard to think globally when you are unhappy locally.

I’m hopeful we can mature as a species to where our sense of justice extends to empathy for the other living things on the earth and our effect on them. But it’s not a given that will happen.

We must do what we can to get our own house in order and move towards a more just society in our own country, and then our attention has a chance to focus on more global and environmental concerns.

In the last few days, we have faced tragedy as a nation. How will we respond? May this extremity be our opportunity to find unity and common purpose.