“We don’t do anything that isn’t for good reasons. The serial killer did that for good reasons, to serve life. Hitler did everything he did for good reasons, to serve life. No human being does anything except for good reasons, to serve life.“ — Marshall Rosenberg
Saturday Night Live is enjoying it’s highest ratings in 20 years. The Trump presidency has been a huge gift to them. Every week there are skits lampooning what is going on in Washington, with Alec Baldwin leading the helm as a larger-then-life, buffoonish, President Donald Trump. This week they opened with a skit making fun of die-hard Trump supporters.
I know I found it depressingly funny, but why? Why do I and so many other progressive-minded thinkers find this humor enjoyable? Why do we do this? Let’s get back to basics; we all do what we do for good reasons. We all do what we do to meet a need. Sometimes there are several needs vying for attention, and we tend to go with the loudest one. Even to the detriment of the other needs. If you want some more understanding of what I’m talking about here, listen to this video.
I know what I’m feeling right now about what is going on in this country is anger; underneath of this is fear. I’m very afraid there are people in this country who vote who don’t see the world as I do. I have deep needs for safety, protection, respect for human beings, consciousness and awareness. The fact that people voted for Donald Trump was shocking to me. It is very painful for me, very frightening, when people support the actions President Trump is taking. The needs I have listed above do not get met. I think there are many others in this same boat.
What I need right now is understanding and support, a shared reality. I need understanding about how painful this situation is to me, and I need to understand why others can’t figure out any other way to respond in a way that threatens so many of us. I also need to understand I’m not alone, that I have a shared reality with other people. What is happening in my country right now is so unbelievable to me that I need some assurance I’m not crazy for what I’m experiencing. I need to hear others are experiencing the same thing.
This brings me to the Saturday Night Live experience. I think those of us that enjoy this find these meet the need of shared reality, but not the need for understanding quite so much. Yes, we laugh, and say to each other, “I know, it’s crazy right? You see how crazy these people are, right?” But I don’t think the Trump supporters share that reality.
I think one of the most common comments I see on social media sites related to this humor is along the lines of “Go ahead and make fun of Trump voters. That’s why you lost the election and will continue to loose elections.” The truth in this kind of statement is we aren’t getting understanding of how painful our country is right now, and we aren’t any closer to understanding why Trump appeals to people. We aren’t getting those needs met at all. It might feel good in the moment to share the reality of the craziness of our times, but we aren’t getting any closer to understanding of any kind. And I think some of us feel that. That’s the sadness we feel underlying the humor of these skits.
I’m hopeful we can start to figure out how to get those other needs met. There is nothing wrong with saying we are in pain, and we need you to understand how your choice contributed to this pain. I think that is underneath so many of our attempts on social media. So many of the memes are trying to get Trump supporters to hear that. Maybe we can be more clear. We want understanding that they hold personal responsibility for their vote. I’m not talking about blame, they won’t be able to hear our request if they hear blame. I want them to be able to acknowledge their vote has caused quite a bit of pain. Then I want to understand what need they were trying to get met by voting for him. I really want to understand that.
If we can both start understanding each other, then we can really make some changes in our country that gets all of our needs met. I’m going to say again, please listen to this video; it will help you understand what I’m talking about here.
Photos are YouTube screen shots
Top photo: Alec Baldwin portraying President Donald Trump
Heather Schlessman, PhD is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has spent her career either working with or teaching about families. She is also a mother who, like so many other parents, spent years muddling her way raising 3 wonderfully different children, one who happens to be experiencing a disability. Fortunately she has a life partner who muddled along with her. Spending most of her time trying to be perfect, as that would be the safest way to live, she became aware of a desire to be able to see people in a more compassionate way. Little did she know that the person she needed the most compassion for was herself. There is a saying that when you are ready to learn a teacher will appear, and so it was for Dr. Schlessman. She was introduced to the work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the developer of Nonviolent Communication, and her world completely changed. She learned a way to have an intimate connection with herself and others, a way to truly contribute. Her passion now is to help others find their way to a more compassionate life. You can find more of Dr. Schlessman’s empathic expressions along with her husband’s, Rev. Mark Schlessman on their website.