A Call for Compassion: How are we the same?

By Kalil Cohen, crossposted with permission from Heart for Brains

Like everyone I know, the triumph of an openly white supremacist, bigoted bully in America’s deeply flawed “democratic” system has left me reeling. I am vacillating between shock, fear, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and rage. I am witnessing many people get physically ill, along with the great impact to our mental health, emotional stability, and hopes for the future. Nearly everyone I know and love is directly harmed by the ideology of those who are preparing to seize power, which leaves me grappling with many big questions.

How can we make sense of this turn of events? How can we continue to build a new paradigm of environmental sustainability, respect for the earth and all sentient beings, interdependent community, and interpersonal safety in this political climate? How can we explain this to our children?

Since the Civil Rights Movement, there has been a dizzying and painful pendulum swing between protecting and expanding the rights of oppressed peoples and repressing and subjugating us – while the deeper roots of that oppression have never been addressed or healed. From JFK/LBJ to Nixon/Ford. From Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. From Bush to Clinton to GW Bush to Obama. This pattern cannot continue. We must find a way to understand one another on a deeper level, to develop empathy and find compassion for those with whom we disagree politically, so that we cannot be divided and manipulated based on the identities that separate us, as a tactic by the wealthy to remain in control. We need to build connections in such a way that there is no “us” or “them”, only “we the people”.

And so, I have been looking into myself for the ways in which I agree with Trump supporters, the ways in which our hopes, dreams, fears, and pains are the same. Here is my attempt to elucidate some of these similarities, in the hope that doing so may help us find common ground on which to connect and move toward a world of safety, healing, and stability for our children’s children.

We are both full of rage at the “leaders” of this country for neglecting us and our needs, and for favoring the needs of others over those of our families.

We are both fearful of the future, sure that our current trajectory leads to nowhere but destruction and greater suffering.

You felt as scared and bewildered the day Obama was elected as I did the day Trump was – like your world was suddenly crumbling, that your family was in danger, and that the country was being taken over by people you could not trust.

We both feel the impact of a struggling economy, and believe that certain communities have been most neglected and deserve to be better represented and championed by the government while others are receiving undeserved advantages.

We both feel negatively impacted by religious extremism, and fear the continuing rise of these violent and reactionary forces to undermine our freedom and safety.

We both feel personally persecuted by the changes happening in our culture, and wake up in the night in fear of our current trajectory and the unforeseen repercussions yet to come.

We both feel unjustly persecuted and that the anger and violence directed toward us in unwarranted, while also feeling that our own rage is fully justified and under-expressed.

The truth is – we are all in deep pain and suffering, carry the wounds of historical and personal traumas, and live in a state of anxiety and fear encouraged and promoted by a broken culture of disconnection and dehumanization.

Rather than focusing on silencing or neutralizing the power of any individuals, let’s focus on moving beyond the ideas of white supremacy, misogyny, and environmental subjugation. When these myths are finally broken, we will heal from their consequences without continuing to be on this pendulum swing of reactionary outbursts. We will be able to have black lives matter to every person, every day. We will be able to address rape culture as a species, grappling with the impact of our genetic legacy and cultural baggage together.


This work existed last week, and it will exist four years from now. It is our work in the world as healers and visionaries. Let’s draw on our shared dreams of liberation to bring sustenance to our communities, taking care to work toward the future while also finding ways to bring beauty and wellness to our present realities. We will only achieve sustainability and health by being sustainable and healthy. So reach out to someone you care about and share your love with them, today and every day. Let’s practice viewing all people through the eyes of compassion, acceptance, empathy, and unconditional love, so that all people will learn to view us that way as well!