Why Trump’s wall won’t work.

Why Trump’s wall won’t work.

It goes against the collective desire to break down boundaries between people. That’s the larger historical wave of humanity: seeing the other person as more like yourself, acting in ways that are more selfless.


“Us vs. Them”

Borders are always self-interested activities–necessary when there is a threat or strong need, but always self-interested. The Great Wall of China, trying to keep out marauding bands of nomads, was there to protect self-interests. If the threat is strong, the wall is justified. The justification sometimes gets clouded, but the “us vs. them” aspect of wall is always clear.

The strong borders of the Communist Bloc are a clear example of borders put in place to keep human resources from escaping. The self-interest reaches its peaks of intensity when the two groups have more in common. In those intense conflicts, it appears to the rest of the world to involve brothers vs. brothers. When the border splits families in half, it becomes the most damaging and absurd: the walls of Northern Ireland, The Berlin Wall, North Korea, and more.

No one cheered when the Berlin Wall went up. No one celebrates how well China, North Korea, Iran, or Russia create walls around dangerous ideas from the internet. As human beings, we don’t celebrate increasing the distances and barriers between us. We celebrate when the walls come down, when ideas and people begin to interact freely.


Trump’s Wall Promotes a Negative Cycle that Creates More Problems

It feeds off the worst in humanity, increasing hatred and distrust. When barriers are strengthened, the line between the haves and the have-nots becomes more defined. The separation of resources becomes more obvious. The competition for survival on the side of the have-nots puts them in a position of desperation, as they will literally die trying to provide a better future for their families and themselves. Competition blurs with simple survival.  The haves justify the protection of their wealth despite the obvious ways that it dehumanizes their neighbors. In fact, the wealthy have to dehumanize their neighbors. If their neighbors were equal in humanity, then the gap between the rich and the poor would be a common problem. All would sense something wrong about this, and the problem solving would begin.

The stronger the wall, the more intense the problems will become. The more extreme the efforts will be to reach the land of opportunity, the more intense the efforts to keep resources protected. The greater the tragedies.


“Countries must become Counties”

To steal a line from The Once and Future King, “Countries must become counties.” The liberty to travel freely across borders creates a positive cycle of change. Liberty is the word. Reagan promoted the advances of human liberty as a means to strengthen the cause of world peace as he asked Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin wall. The Ancient Greeks viewed travelling across borders as a core freedom. If we can again recognize this as freedom, problems will begin to be resolved.

Think of the positive changes, if we consider country divisions more like county divisions.

When you travel from one county to the next, you respect the local laws, you participate in the local culture; but you do not consider warring with them. You have too much in common. Your economies are intertwined, your cultures are interconnected; you are linked by humanity, and the problems that all of humanity faces.

As Chinese business becomes more entwined with the United States, there is an increase in cultural exchange. There is an increase in the need to have bi-cultural, bilingual workers. There is an increased need for international education. Key stake holders in society may balk at dramatic political moves such as a trade war, and threatening tariffs.

The cycle that is created is one of understanding new cultures, respecting them as equals, solving common problems, and sharing resources.

The need for unrestrained competitive tactics to defeat your opponent lessens as you realize that your opponent is your neighbor, your family, your equal. Competition is incorporated into solving common problems.


Living ‘Countries to Counties’

Each individual can support this effort.

Working in these fields helps to soften barriers: International Education, International Business, International Mediation. Any work in that offers social assistance to immigrant groups. This can include a wide range of jobs such as teaching, nursing, social workers, or first-responders. Work in the travel industry can also help to break down borders.

It can manifest not just in career choices, but it can also impact your personal life. In every interaction you have with others, consider how you are raising your barriers?Consider how your actions contribute to them raising theirs? Put this intention in your mind before you meet with someone in difficult interactions: “I am going to lower my personal barriers, so that we can communicate as equals, and solve this problem.”

It seems like a minor thought, but in many interactions, we have power of others. We may be the representative of the company that won’t give them their money back, or we may represent an organization, and we are enforcing a rule or regulation. We may not realize it, but we may use the strengths of these barriers to hold power over another individual. When we do, we do harm to others and ourselves.

A simple way, in this current moment, to work towards removing boundaries, is to oppose Trump’s wall.



There are two types of synchronicity that influence me. I know they don’t fit standard definitions, but thinking of this word in this way is helpful for me.

The first is being one with time. I’m thinking of time here like a an ocean wave: If I’m thinking about what might happen, I’m sitting on my board watching the wave come to me. If I miss the wave, I’m seeing it roll past me towards the beach.

Thinking about future time and past time is not the thing. Catching the present moment and being absorbed into it is. Riding the wave of the present.

It has a million words to describe it: zen spirit, being In-the-zone, mindfulness, etc. for me, it is helpful to think of it as synchronicity.

The method is to perceive, understand, and direct your body without words or concepts. Yoga is directed towards this, meditation– anything considered meditative. The banjo player lost in the jam; the logician absorbed in creative solutions. In everyday moments. Wrapping a blanket around your feet after bone chilling walk home.

It is not wanting, not stressing. It’s almost as if you are a stranger to your body, but at the same time more in tune with it. Synchronicity comes in such stops and starts that it creates fanatical seekers on racquetball courts, Aikido Dojo’s, chess clubs.

You occasionally see people who spend most of their time in this way, and they have an easy kindness, capable people.

The second synchronicity

This can only be achieved after much time in the first.

Being lucky in the flow of time. Those lucky coincidences that make people tilt their heads a little. It’s riding the wave of time that connects you to the larger universal movements.

And here you notice things that others don’t. You turn failures and bad breaks into opportunities. You just happen to be standing at the door when someone comes to post a job announcement.

You don’t dwell on these things. You definitely don’t go looking for them, because that would be past and future time all over again, and you’d fall off your board as the wave passes you by.

And the only goal is to spend a little more time in the first synchronicity. The second comes on its own timetable.

Why is the world so crazy right now?

It seems crazy, and you know what…it is.

We are living in a time of massive change, and it is sending out warning bells to everyone.

The normal system that modulates change is out-of-wack. When change is moving smoothly, there is a balance to things. There is a progressive element in society that pushes for change, and there is a conservative element that slows it down, and all this ensures that society can absorb change without becoming unstable. pexels-photo.jpg

Visionaries and Gatekeepers

Think of it as a balancing act between the visionaries and gatekeepers. The visionaries come in with their wild ideas and iconoclasm, and start painting the walls and moving things around. The gatekeepers put a hold on things. They take their shoes off, dip it in the water first. They ask the questions: Is it needed? Will it makes things better? Will it destroy what we value? And in a democracy that is functioning well, this balancing act slows the speed of change to an acceptable pace.

But now, change isn’t just being driven by visionaries. It’s a larger tick in the universal clock. It’s an-every-couple-thousand-years change. So, all the gate-keepers standing on their walls with their binoculars and loud speakers are freaking out. There are just too many crazy things going on for them to carefully check everything. From this perspective, we can see Trump and his “Make America Great” screams as more of a symptom of the craziness and not the cause. Every isolated enclave in the world is forced to connect with the rest of the world, and they are ready to fight to keep these crazy people from messing with their traditions. They are in crisis mode, and they are trying to pull things backwards. Since they are in crisis mode, they are willing to scrap the  functional democracy thing.

This strong reaction and emergency effort to move things back in history sets off warning bells for the visionaries too. When you combine the disregard of democratic systems, you create revolutionaries. They too are willing to fight to save the hard won accomplishments of recent progressive movements. The result is a an intense global environment, where the largest of institutions and the most isolated pockets of civilization are experiencing out-of-balance conflict. Compromise, democracy, civility are out the window. To some extent, Trump’s approach of riding the chaos–blending with it seems effective. Anyone who is trying to accomplish anything from a perspective of solid ground is failing.

What Is This Change?  pexels-photo-837268.jpeg

The only thing that can provide comfort is a broader look at what this change is. Is it the destructive force of the end of the world? Probably not. It is growth. Progress is a movement towards selflessness.  It is a movement towards the humanitarian values of equality, dignity, and connectedness. The driving force behind this has been the instant explosion of shared information. On every technological front, we have amazing examples how anyone, anywhere, can access or share information. Injustice is recorded with a phone and shared immediately on Facebook. Knowledge and skills are free from the lock and key of institutions. Countless voices are expressing themselves through  YouTube, blogs, social media.

In this miasma of shared experience we have renewed calls for justice, equality, and global solutions to common problems.

What the World Needs Now

We need clear humanitarian tasks that cannot be owned by any particular country, ideology, or organization. Broad no-brainer goals that people can commit to in a variety of ways.

Think: clean water.

Think: respecting the dignity of every human by addressing extreme poverty.

Think: air pollution.

Think: improving world-wide access to health care.

These tasks are not the property of any religion. They do not fall within any country borders. They are not the production of any political ideology. They are just plainly needed. People can use these broad, important goals to reach across boundaries. If the popular momentum is focused on these goals, then cooperative approaches will pop up in surprising ways. The first cooperative effort made by Democrats and Republicans to address one of these common sense problems will provide a new pathway to getting things done. Both the visionaries and gate-keepers can get behind basic problem solving–but only if there is a sufficient push from the voters, consumers, and other cultural producers.

Right now, organizations are focused on achieving dominance. They falsely believe that dominance–rigging the game– will give them the ability to do things their way and not their opponents. Political parties, religious organizations, countries gobble up ideas as a means to build their power; they gobble them up but they are meaningless to them. When ideas become broad enough that they are good for all, they can’t be so easily caged into ideology.

Here are seven ideas–I will call them trees–that can work: pexels-photo-131723.jpeg

  1. Dignity
  2. Clarity in Systems
  3. Transforming Conflict
  4. Softening Boundaries
  5. Spiritual Health
  6. Increasing Shared Understanding
  7. Guiding Others

The majority of the posts in this blog will be improvisations off one or more of these ideas. Whoever you are, whatever stage in your development, by yoking yourself to one of these trees, you can find  a useful anchor keeping you from being swept away by the crazy whirlpools of everyday chaos. The world is crazy, and taking a broader humanitarian direction in your life can bring the peace and purpose that you need.



Tree One: Dignity


Are you confused about what direction to take in life? Maybe you are a recent graduate and you are thinking things through, maybe you are bit older.

Think of this: yoke yourself to the idea that all people deserve dignity.

It might seem that I need to write poetry or clever phrases to convince you of the importance of this, but that’s the thing. It is so obvious that you just get it plainly. You understand it in your feet.

We all deserve to be afforded basic human dignity.

As you think about how this might guide your life, think of all the things that strip that dignity away.

abuse, drug-abuse, bullying, poverty.i-wP9frPh-X2[1]

Think of a person not being able to be the person they are. Think of someone demeaned or threatened because of their race, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation. Just imagine being in their shoes as someone or some thing makes them feel like a lesser human.

The problems are everywhere.

And so are your opportunities to do the work to make things better.

Think of it in terms of career pathway options. You could be a counselor or social-worker helping someone regain basic human dignity as they battle with addiction. You could be a nurse or medical assistant helping someone facing an illness feel whole and dignified. You can be a police officer, who looks a suspect in the eye, and treats them with decency.

You can be a teacher that ensures that every student in the class is respected and given a protected space to grow and learn.

You might not be the richest in terms of your wallet, but the old cliche is true, you will be rich in the heart. The daily work you put in will transform you, as long as you remember that your goal is not to remove the world of problems, but to acknowledge the sacred dignity in each person you serve.

To twist a phrase, you will become someone who has grown a stronger soul.

If you aren’t at that time for a career path, you can still yoke to this idea. It can transform your everyday interactions. The world is full of large organizational machinery that comes crashing down to dehumanize people. If the first thought you have is–and it is more a state of mind–‘I am going to respect the dignity of each person I meet’, the normal confrontations and pettiness subside. People can feel it. They don’t bite as much if someone is respecting them.

It takes bravery, trust, and patience. Again, it is obvious that these things are worth pursuing and developing. It doesn’t mean becoming Mr. Nice Guy, and letting people walk all over you. As every good teacher, nurse, and librarian knows, sometimes, to support the dignity of another, you need to be firm. The important thing is the intention.

This idea is not the property of any political, national, or religious doctrine. All benefit.

Black Lives Matter, Veteran’s Rights, Me Too, Displaced Factory Workers, The Mentally Ill, Prisoners, Immigrants, Senior Citizens. The causes and organizations that focus on dignity run across political lines. Look past the differences and see that dignity is the responsibility of all of us. It’s something worth working on. It is not a fight to win.