Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid Manson, Jim Jones, Hitler, Putin—Trump

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Drawing by M.C. Esher.

I have come to the conclusion that Trump has all the qualities of a cult leader. In spite of his broken promises and litany of false statements, his fanatical followers remain mesmerized and loyal. In this piece I’m going to examine the psychology of why people hand their minds, their very lives and souls over to charlatans and con men.

Cult leaders such as Trump are master manipulators. They possess a bag of tricks that provide them with the power to control individuals who are vulnerable. The individuals who are lured into a cult have a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  They are looking for a way to avoid the angst of an existential crises.  Charley Manson, Jim Jones and the Hitlers of the world are quick to recognize individuals who are willing to give up their independence in exchange for a leader that provides them with simple answers to life’s complex questions.

Trumps campaign promises were built on unrealistically simple solutions. Here’s a sample of some of his quick, easy and absurd solutions—–Build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, seize and deport millions of immigrants, quickly and effortlessly wipe out ISIS and all related terrorist groups, immediately withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan, renegotiate all of the United States trade agreements with his “Art Of The Deal” smarts, repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with his secret program that he claimed would be cheaper and provides better coverage, provide the middle class with a huge tax break while vowing to never reduce funding for the Social Security program, dropping the United States support for the Paris Climate Agreement because climate change is fake science, to discharge all transgender individuals from the military, to bring back coal mining jobs, to drain the swamp in Washington by kicking out all the lobbyist and special interest groups.

The crowds at his rally’s cheered and applauded enthusiastically as he made these baseless promises. They believed that his path to “Making America Great Again” would be simple. He provided no details or substance to his promises, they were emotional slogans designed to appeal to a frustrated and angry constituency. The impulses of anger ultimatley lead to poor decision making.

His support has gradually begun to shrink, but many of his core supporters continue to believe in his campaign slogan to “Make America Great”. But like the cult leader who’s end of the world prediction date fails to materialize, there are followers who still continue to be loyal to him and his failed promises. Such individuals are so emotionally and mentally invested in the cult and its leader, that it becomes impossible to back out and admit that they’ve been duped. Ironically, as the leader is exposed to be a fraud, his core followers become more fervent in their loyatley. Fanaticism is fueled by impulsive emotions rather than logic and common sense.

Lets examine some of the common traits shared by cult leaders and Mr Trump.

  1. They are authoritarian and demand an unquestioning loyalty. Trump expected to receive James Comey’s vow of personal loyalty and manipulate him into dropping the Russian collusion investigation.
  2. Followers are expected to not ask any questions of the cult leader, but to blindly believe what the leader states as truth.
  3. Followers are told that facts, data or information that’s contrary to the cults beliefs are fake or false (fake news?). The cult leader is the only conveyer of truth. His reality is to be accepted as the groups reality.
  4. Followers are taught that there are two worlds, an evil outside world and then there is the cults version of the world/reality as defined by the cult leader.. There is no gray area, it is a black and white choice.
  5. These leaders present an “us against them” scenario. They exploit the differences between races, religions, nationalities and sexual orientation. Individuals that hold different beliefs than the cults are judged as inferior and evil.
  6. The cult leader will use divisiveness, fear and hate speak to scare their followers into trusting no one but them. They will tell their followers that those who are not devout to the cults cause are the enemy who are taking their jobs, their resources, their America.
  7. These leaders deflect personal responsibility by casting blame on others. It’s the media, the deep state, the democrats, the republicans, the alt-left, the alt-right, the Muslims the Mexicans, the Chinese etc…..Cult leaders never accept blame, they cast blame on everyone other than themselves.
  8. Followers are isolated from outside information and influences. Followers are instructed to read and listen to specific outlets that support the cult beliefs e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Fox and Friends and other programs that espouse supportive propaganda. Cult followers live in a close minded bubble.
  9. Cult leaders believe that laws and appropriate moral conduct does not apply to them. Due to their position of authority and power they often use and abuse followers. “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
  10. They expect to be catered to and showered with praise. They are narcissistic and egocentric. They lack empathy and the ability to understand the suffering of others.
  11. Cult leaders will claim to be superior to their followers. They believe that they are more intelligent or have augmented skills above and beyond a normal person. Trump stated that he knows more than the generals. He brags that his ingenious “deal making skills” and business savvy qualify him as a superior leader. Some cult leaders even claim to be ordained by god to lead the cult to salvation. Some may say that god speaks directly to them. Trump stated: “Well I think I was born with the drive for success because I have a certain gene”.
  12. Cult leaders can never admit that they are wrong. They will never offer an apology. They will cast blame on others rather than own up to any of their mistakes or short comings.
  13. They will use threats and bullying techniques to keep followers under their control. Fear is a weapon that they often employ. They may threaten physical and/or emotional harm to those not following the leaders rules. Trump has said he would like to punch a demonstrator in the face and has encouraged his followers to physically throw out demonstrators, suggesting that they be taken out on a stretcher. “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,”
  14. They are paranoid. Any person who is perceived to be a threat to their power and control will be fired, banished or in someway separated from the group. Trump continues to have a phenomenal turn over in his administration.
  15. They thrive on praise and attention. Trump fulfills this need by holding his rally’s in venues packed with his core fanatical followers.

 

Cult leaders prey on individuals who are emotionally weak and mentally lazy. These individuals seek out a leader to do their thinking for them. They willingly abdicate their personal power to a leader who will provide them with simple answers to life’s difficult questions. Below are some suggestions on how you identify and confront a cult leader.

  1. Question authority. Just because a leader has an impressive title and is in a position of authority does not mean that their words are true or the intentions honorable. Don’t allow yourself to be misdirected or shamed for asking questions. Keep repeating your question until you are provided a logical answer verses emotional rhetoric
  2.  If you are offered a simple solution to a complex problem it is probably a campaign slogan and not a solution.  Demand facts, data and detailed answers.
  3. Do your research. Seek out information, data and input from multiple sources. If the majority of sources find that the facts are contrary to the leaders statements, then you need to side with the substantiated facts.  Be ruled by your mind not your emotions.
  4. Be willing to live in the gray area. Many of life’s complex issues do not have simple black and white answers. Learn to trust you own judgment. Play out the different outcomes to the proposed solutions in your mind before deciding what is the correct actions to take. Don’t be impulsive, take time to weigh the pro’s and con’s.
  5. Be willing to admit when your assumptions and beliefs are wrong and make the appropriate adjustments.  Don’t be emotionally attached to a truth or a belief.
  6. If a leader is a bully and calls people names, threatens them or abuses them, he is a abusing his power.
  7. Does the leader behave like a dictator or does he subscribe to a democratic method where the majorities input is unlisted and abided by.
  8. If the leader is caught in multiple lies, fabrications and embellishments, his words are no longer to be trusted.
  9. If the leader is a braggart and makes claims that are blatantly false, he is to no longer to be believed.
  10. If a leader is divisive and dehumanizes those that challenge him, he is using hate speak to maintain control and power over followers.
  11. If a leader lacks moral authority he is extremely dangerous. If he uses his power and position to abuse or encourage abuse of others, he is not fit to lead.

Democracy depends on the personal involvement of its citizens. In order for a fascist leader or an authoritarian leader to rule, it requires it’s citizens to no longer remain engaged in the political process. When citizens stop turning out to vote they are relinquishing their personal power. To combat fascism citizens need to hold their leaders accountable for the things they say or do. A healthy democracy includes a free press that fact checks politicians without being ridiculed or called “fake news”.

We are once again at a pivotal point in the struggle to preserve this grand experiment known as democracy. I encourage you to do your research and fact checking to draw your own conclusions regarding President Trump and his ability to lead this great country. I have come to the conclusion that he lacks the moral fiber, mental stability and trustworthiness to be a leader of a democracy.

I do agree with one thing that Mr Trump has touted, and that is we need to  “Make America Great Again”. Lets start by stripping Mr Trump of his power by exposing his embellishment, fabrications and out right lies. Lets question his moral character by calling him out on his veiled racist statements as well as his past abuses of woman. Lets pull the covers on his corrupt administration and his flawed leadership.  Don’t give up hope, stay involved, vote, call and write your representatives.  Demand that your leaders speak the truth, have good character and lead with compassion and empathy.

To Be Alive

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Soundtrack “Whatever It Is” Zach Brown

 

 

Whatever your age is
It doesn’t matter

You think you’ve grown up
but there’s still an eight year old inside you
still a 14 year old, an eighteen year old
A twenty something, thirty something
and so on and so forth

All these remnants are still
pieces buried within
ones personhood

Even after surviving all these life milestones
of age and time
The specter of these past characters
still rumble about
within you, they inhabit your
subconscious, slipping out
when least expected

Reach back and find
the little pieces of yourself
that live behind
the mirror, beneath the veneer of adulthood

Cry like a baby
stomp your feet
Scream “no” to everyone who
wants you to obey their rules
Play like its the last day of summer

Make love as if it’s the first time you’ve
ever felt the breath or skin of another

Lie, call in sick, sleep in
and then go to the beach

Take the long way home
because the radio is
playing a string of songs that
fit like a perfect soundtrack
to the swirling scenery passing
by your window
And it’s good to be alive
and you know it, as it’s
happening

Keep on driving, miss your turn off
go to the woods and build a bonfire
sing songs, Skinny dip
hike unmarked trails

Call someone you miss
and will always miss
call and let them know
you’re thinking of them

Shove her up against the wall
and watch her look of surprise turn to desire
all that uncontrolled passion
that ache to be touched
melting between thighs and sighs
and muffled screams

Skip dinner and eat
chocolate cake with your hands

foster your imagination
All of life is a fantasy
make it up
as you go along

Never surrender your incurable curiosity
want everything, at once
all the time
be impetuous
uninhibited
authentic
Ah, yes—-to be alive

what an experience

what an adventure

Suicide 101—-Waiting On The Sun To Rise

Many years ago I did my college internship at a Suicide Prevention Hot Line. I went through a basic orientation and a training session prior to beginning my first all night solo shift. I was young, confident and fresh out of the gate—-Talking someone out of suicide ought to be a breeze. I quickly learned (after my first 3:00 am phone call) that I was in over my head. I immediately realized that the voice on the other end of the line belonged to a living breathing person who was suffering. Their pain was beyond my life experience. To this day, I’m not sure if I really helped anyone. I tried my best to be an empathetic and patient listener. I bore witness to unrestrained sobbing and screams of horror cried out into the phone’s receiver. There were stories of godless depression and anxiety beyond ones ability to remain fortified.

I had no rehearsed script, no prescription pad or the luxury of providing a client with a series of on going counseling sessions. I had just that moment to “try and reach” the person on the other end of the line. I did my best to listen attentively and to interject support. When appropriate, I’d provide input or referrals to community services. In spite of my lack of training and limited life experience, there we were, in the middle of the night fumbling with ideas of why it’s worth holding on for one more moment or for one more day.

And sometimes, by holding on for one moment longer than you’d think is possible, the suffering would pass——at least for a while or until the sun would rise once again.

The Gravity Of Lust

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You’d have to be a man to misunderstand woman the way men do. Women are complex and mysterious. We’re stymied by their anatomy, confounded by their emotions, frightened by their will to love or to hate within the span of a nano second.

We fumble and fondle them like a Rubik’s Cube in the hands of a chimpanzee. Their legs, their breasts—— the way they disturb space and time, dishing out their gravity with our lust. But like their physiology, much is hidden, out of sight and enigmatic. Men are like their genitals, what you see is what you get.

Victor

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Soundtrack “If I Go, I’m Going” by Gregory Alan Isakov.

 

raindrops falling and disturbing still water
she smelled like fresh laundry and the newness of a morning sun
this ole heart is wearing worn and cracked work-boots
It’s the miles not the years

You fell in love with me

like a frozen statue

like a fallen hero
Mistaking love for things that never change

even our sun
will someday die
put on a sun dress
and I’ll wear flip flops
and we’ll get sunburns
while drinking beer at the beach

Internal wallpaper is how we decorate our lives
You were my star in this darkened theater

There is no poetry in Los Angeles, it’s got chicken scratch graffiti on concrete, where tattoos are mistaken for art, its train like cities that have no beginning or ending, just endless strip malls, fast-food joints—-with its smog hallowed sun. How can there be so much loneliness in these crowded places, we have become citizens of cloned hometowns, we’re generation X, or Y, or millennials,—–held together with Facebook velcro.

Nobody really knows what’s going on or what it’s all about. We’re all just running around trying to figure out what we should do, where we should go next, whom do we dare pretend to be. The clock is always ticking, all is uncertain. Before it’s all over we are desperate to discover our part in it all. Occasionally you’ll touch something and it will shock you, like the unforeseen bite of static electricity, or glimpsing a dead falling star. And for that instance your puny life takes on a speck of meaning—–one random piece of the puzzle falls into place.

Her love was like wisteria. At first it brought a subtle beauty to everything it attached itself to. But in time its clinging nature enveloped and entangled what had once been a free-swinging garden gate. Over time there was no way to gracefully enter or exist, the overgrown gate was forever intwined and frozen. It clawed over, across and on top of what once gave the garden its structure and form. In time its need to control and twist all it touched would cause the lattice to sag, to crack under the weight and finally give way. Such beauty strangles the life out all it once embellished. She was my weed strewn garden, she was everything I wanted, but the last thing I needed.

I’ve heard it said that writing is the loneliest of pursuits. It’s just you, a blank piece of paper and your thoughts. I don’t know how writers of pulp fiction feel about their craft, but I suspect that the poet is much more of a desperate soul. His ankle is tied to a huge rusty anchor and it is plunging him to the bottom of the sea. He’s headed to a place where there is no light, no sound, an inhospitable cold region. Poets aren’t depressed—-—no—they’re truth scavengers trapped in a world of forgers. If they were afflicted by depression they might find relief in a drug or in a support group. There is no clinical diagnoses or magic cure for being a poet. Please don’t be afraid, its not contagious.

My father and I share a common name—“Victor”. My dad was called Vic by his friends but I prefer Victor. As I’ve grown older I’ve seen parts of him rise to the surface in me. I was his only son and we tried to reach one another, but we were separate boats being pushed by opposing winds.

I went through a period when I was an adolescent where I’d have night terrors—-I was a sleepwalker pacing the floor in sheer terror, crying and screaming out at things no one could see but me. My dad would shake me, pat my cheek in an attempt to wake me, but I’d carry on in my neither world of monsters, demons and madness. This would go on for hours. He would ask me at breakfast if I remembered these fits. I never remembered these night events. But I’d have a faint memory of something that filled me with terror.

My dad use to say “You’ll find out someday”. And what he meant by that was, someday I’ll learn that life is cruel and bitter and hard and full of frustration and let downs. He would almost say it with a sense of glee. Like he couldn’t wait until this life beat every ounce of idealism and romanticism out of me. He’d just look at me after making this repetitive proclamation, shaking his head and giving me a snide little snicker.

I don’t know how, why or where, but somewhere along the way he surrendered his personal power. It’s always easier to give in, give up and throw your hands up and concede, but that just isn’t me. I take my name seriously, I’m a Victor, I’m born to take on all comers—bring it on—–I’ll go down swinging.

Don’t fear the inevitable, such as death. But rather, fear not taking action on the things you have the power to change, such is your life.

Be a Victor———–Do something!

Paint Me A Picture Green and Blue

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If love were a color, it would be green——like the traffic light that screams GO!—like the grass that’s always greener on the other-side, green like a twenty dollar bill earned the hard way—– leaving you one blistered heart, its in that sweet scent of sappy pine needles in early June, rare like a four leaf clover, it’s in her emerald flecked eyes, like the squirt from a lime after a shot of Cuervo——–but never the color of envy—–

My love is blue, like the deepest part of the ocean, like the sound of Muddy Water’s graveled voice singing “You Shook Me”, as wide open as a cloudless Summer sky, it’s the blue that flickers at the tip of a campfire flame, it’s in the bluish colored veins showing through her ivory skinned neck, a river of life rushing from her quaking heart, her body like a little factory producing beauty, it’s hiding within a cold azure tiki drink—-it’ll kick your ass like a stiff right hook to the soul.

Time is transparent, you can’t see it as it passes through you. I remember all the little things in my wake, the big things are chapters in a book I’ve reread a thousand times. I never tire of my memories, even though they can sometimes leave me sad and nostalgic, the fleetingness of time sifting though an hour glass, grains of sand like moments slipping by—-slipping away.

I once thought that if I talked faster, lived faster that I’d get more living out of life. But no, I got it all wrong, it’s exactly the opposite, the slower I live, the more of life I absorb. I also once thought that the harder I prayed, the more god would turn my wants and desires into reality. But, God doesn’t care about my hopes and dreams, what concerns him more, is how I walk through the fire, how I carry myself—–do I cower in fear? Do I hold another fire-walker’s sweaty palm? Do I piss on the coals?  Is the heat an oven to melt sandwiches of gram-cracker, marshmallow and chocolate into S’mores? How do you make your way across the coals—–doing your tip toed river dance while passing through….Cause were all just passing through…..Dancing on the sharp edged blade between chance and fate…..

Paint me a picture green and blue.

Warrior Poet

Soundtrack “It’s The Same” by JD Souther.

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Warrior Poet

The world is overflowing with writers but it gives birth to few warrior poets. A writer will tell you the temperature of a room, the hues of a dying day, the silent movement of shadows on pavement, the changing phases of the moon or maybe describe the light cast during a particular time of day in autumn. A poet bypasses all this obvious crap, but instead shines a blinding light on the darkest corners of your soul—–cause deep down we’re all the same, we share a common misery, we suffer a shared sadness—–and once a poem takes you there, you’ll never come back the same.

You can fall out of love with someone and still get it back. But, once you fall “Out of like” with a person it’s gone forever———irretrievable——irreversible. We fall in love for crazy reasons. You may love someone for their hair, for the shape of their ass, or maybe its the car they drive. It may be the clothes they wear, or what they look like naked. Sometimes it’s the title attached to their name, their possessions, or the size of their bank account. Love’s a superficial and primal emotion that can lead to murder——-to madness—–to jealousy and pandemonium—–not to mention unintended pregnancies and failed marriages. Love makes fools of us all. The fruits of love is bedlam—–it decays ones ability to reason. You stumble around love drunk, saying and doing things you’ll regret in the morning.

Its possible to live with someone you no longer love, but living with someone you no longer like can drive you to homicidal fantasies.  If you no longer love someone, you can still exist as roommates.  You can divvy up expenses and household chores—–you can even share a pizza and a movie.  But once you no longer like someone it becomes extremely painful to be in the same room, breathing the same air.

To be “In like” with someone is to be enamored with the way they carry themselves. It’s who they reveal themselves to be in a dark musty hotel room at 3:12 am on a rainy Tuesday—-after the buzz has worn off——- and the loud music is replaced by dark confessions——modesty and clothes lay tangled on the floor———all the piddly ass small talk gives way to restive honesty.  There’s no place to hide once we’re stripped of our vanities.

Love is the illusion of what you hoped another person to be——a fleeting mirage composed of phony pleasantries, a facade concealing an alien beneath the mask. Authenticity is the rarest of human commodities.

Liking someone is how the other person makes you feel about yourself. I like how Maya Angelou put it “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  A friend helps you untangle who you thought you were from who you no longer want to be.

You’ll know a true friend cause they give you energy when you feel like giving up. Their presence makes you smile. They make you laugh at yourself——at the world——-at the futility and absurdity of it all. They’ll open your eyes and mind to unforseen possibilities? Their sadness makes you sad. They’ll turn an ordinary day into something extraordinary. If stranded on a desert island this is the person you’d choose to have by your side. They’re the one you want to share your time with, because time is all life really is. They make you feel alive? When you’re “In like” with someone, you want nothing to be different then the way they are.

We’re living in sandcastles waiting and watching as high tide slowly creeps ever closer. The waves are unrepentant, they crumble the walls you’ve built brick by brick over a lifetime.