What is it that Trump has done, when looked at through the lens of compassion?
Trump has nurtured a paranoid false reality in which people are helpless victims of a Hostile and Malevolent State. He has maintained and occupied this Alternative reality for enough time, and convincingly enough to drag other people into paranoia with him. Trump has, for four years, held the biggest megaphone in the world. As a result, he has been able to convince most of the people who could be so convinced. These people now number possibly in the millions.
Do they react when he points to the source of their imagined dangers? Are they scared of the people he tells them are dangerous? Of course! It doesn’t matter what else you think of them, they are a terrified group on the brink of panic.
To be clear, panicking groups are extremely dangerous! And this one has been driven to the exact sort of extreme reactive state that you would expect from any panicking group. What we have in this nation is a crisis, manufactured on the foundation of people’s own fears. There are at least thousands of people who have been made so scared they are willing to risk the violent response we saw from the police all last year on nothing more than an indication from Trump that they might possibly be able to do some non-specific thing about the imaginary Evil State.
This fear has been building for many years now; the only thing Trump did was to make it salient enough that people might actually act on it. The panic recently reached a peak on January 6th. It ends when we identify the real fears and concerns that allowed Trump to take advantage, and we solve or dissolve them.
The State will not do this work for us. It will be too concerned with protecting itself against the insurrection; working against the possibility of another event like the one that desecrated one of its most sacred spaces and threatened the safety of its members. It will act to punish somebody - anybody - as an example of what happens to Traitors and Insurrectionists, though its ability to act against Trump himself is extremely limited. We cannot depend on the State to cure this disease of fear.
Corporations have begun to help. Finally acting after years of pressure from people who have noticed the problem and worried about its spread, Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to protect the general population from Trump's dangerous delusions, such as they are able. The State cannot take such actions, bound as it is to respect Freedom of Speech. We are lucky in this case that corporations have no such principles, though they failed to act early enough to prevent tragedy.
If we continue to allow events to take their course, we may find ourselves in a civil war. There are two fronts on which we must act to prevent this.
To the State, we must make it clear that we expect compassion for those who have been driven to violence by Trump's paranoid delusion. Write your representatives in Congress (both House and Senate) and demand a tempered response to the failed coup. They should act to defend the State, of course. And they must also remember that they are dealing with people who are terrified that the State is a Hostile and Malevolent Force that will stop at nothing to crush it's enemies. Those whom the State labels Insurrectionist are by others labeled Patriot. That last will become Martyr if these people are not handled with the most obvious possible care and consideration for their humanity. Even Trump deserves this much! The State often refers to us as Constituents. Since we constitute a part of the state, we are partly responsible for its actions. Work to make sure you can be proud of that.
To our neighbors, many of whom had a bad 2020, many of whom have long been frightened of the Corrupted State, many of whom are shocked and appalled by what happened on January 6th, many of whom found that event hopeful... To all our neighbors, we must listen. Learn what they love and value. Learn what upsets and frightens them. Learn what makes them angry: anger is a tough front for softer feelings of distress, usually fear. Fear can only grow alongside love (clarification). Don't tell them they are wrong when you disagree with their conclusions! Tell them you "hadn't thought about it like that", or "always saw that a bit differently" and ask if you can share your honest and thoughtful view on the topic. Tell them that you "can totally see where they're coming from" when that becomes true. Use "yes, and" more than you use "but" or “no”. Show them that you value their opinion, their perspective, even if it differs strongly from yours. Show them that you value them as people, neighbors, friends, and even allies.
Then the healing can begin.
This post came to me after consideration of another. Thank you, Impassionata.