On November 9th, after waking up to find that candidate Donald Trump had tipped the scales to acquire the 270 votes needed to win the Electoral College, I picked up from my kitchen table the book Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti. I took out the bookmark and began to read a new section entitled "The Entrails of Power:"
"The psychology of seizing and incorporating, like that of eating in general, is still completely unexplored. We tend to take the whole process for granted and never reflect on the mysteriousness of much that occurs in the course of it. There is nothing about us which is more strongly primitive. It is something we share with animals...
"First there is the lying in wait for prey; the prey is marked down long before it is aware of our designs on it. With feelings of pleasure and approval it is contemplated, observed and kept watch over.... Nothing can deflect the watcher's determination to get hold of it. Already while he is prowling round it he feels that it belongs to him. From the moment he selects it as his prey, he thinks of it as incorporated into himself....
"Man is not always strong enough to obtain his prey directly. The skills and experience in pursuit which he has acquired have resulted in his developing all kinds of complicated traps. Often he makes use of the power of transformation which is his specific gift and appears disguised as the animal he is after. He acts it so well that it believes him. This manner of trapping an animal may be termed flattery. The animal is told 'I am like you. I am you. You can safely let me come near you.'" (page 203)
What were your own feelings upon waking on November 9th? Despair? Elation? Something in between? What resources did you seek to make sense of this experience?
Have you ever acted like an animal stalking its prey? What were the circumstances? Did you get what you sought? How has that impacted your life? How did it impact others? What spiritual practices do you employ to feed the part of you that is more than an animal?
Think of a time when you have been the "prey" of someone else. What were the circumstances? How did you regain your power? How has this experience shaped your life? How has it shaped your political choices?
What are the similarities and differences between the 2016 presidential election and the imagery used by Canetti? Who has been stalking whom, in your view? What traps are used in our current election process to gain power? How can you safeguard yourself and those you love from predators who attempt to utilize elected office for self-serving reasons?
Who has the potential to become a victim as a result of this election? Who stands to gain power? Based on your interpretation of the election results, how will you respond to this change in the power dynamic? How are you called to work for justice and equality within the framework of your political beliefs?
Copyright 2016 by Margaret Morgan Maat