Five Elements and Elections: Fear, Hate, and Healing

Dear Readers: Four years ago, I posted a blog following what seemed to be a particularly contentious and divisive election in 2016 America. Sadly, it appears that little has changed in America over the past four years and the election held here earlier this week is on its way to becoming even more divisive than the previous one. 

In my 2016 post, I explored the role the Five Elements played in that election with the hope that a greater understanding of the dynamics at play would help heal the country. That remains the impetus and hope behind re-sharing that (annotated) 2016 post today. Blessings to all, Vicki

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From 2016:

Dear Readers,

We held a presidential election in America earlier this week and the results left some people astounded and shocked. It was perceived by many as a contest between love and hate, acceptance and fear, inclusivity and exclusion. How we each processed these apparent polarities depended a great deal on which candidate we supported. In the end, the country was split almost exactly down the middle: the electoral vote went to one candidate and the popular vote to the other. In America, the electoral vote decides the election.

It’s not my intent here to discuss who should have won, or who did win. Rather, I’d like to explore the role the Five Elements played in this election in hopes that this understanding will help us begin to heal. America is dangerously divided right now and must come together to move forward. As Abraham Lincoln pointed out in his June 16, 1858 speech, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Hopefully, a little understand will help the healing.

A dominant theme in this election was fear. Fear of people not like us, fear of what either candidate might do if elected, fear of lost rights, fear of staying stuck, fear of elitism, fear of exclusion; you name it, we feared it. Even those aspects of the campaign that emphasized working together carried an underlying fear of what would happen if we just couldn’t work together. Truly, this was an election fraught with fear.

In the Five Elements model, fear sits in the Water element, which we each have at some level in our elemental personalities. Water deals with newness and different ideas, and this 2016 election delivered that in spades: we were going to elect either the first female president or the first president with no government experience. The threat to our perceived safety that this newness created did its job. Most people were stressed and often terrified during much of the election cycle. (2020 note: In this election, the fear was particularly focused on the highly polarized directions either candidate might take the country.)

Stress can cause each of the elemental personalities to become dysfunctional versions of their normal selves. For the Water personality under stress, their usual positive personality traits of hope, optimism, trust, and tenacity can morph into hopelessness, fear, distrust, and intolerance. Out of balance Water people easily lose faith in the world. Their normal trust that all will turn out well can transform into the fear that they are being left out, fear that they won’t get what they need or want, fear of losing something that they value or that defines them, etc.

And because we all have some of the Water personality in us, there was plenty of fear to go around during this 2016 campaign because the two candidates were miles apart on almost every single issue. Specific issues (insert your favorite from jobs to women’s rights to climate change) made it easy for fear to flood the land. 

What happens when there is too much fear in any whole, say for example, a population or a country? To answer this, we will of course turn to the Five Elements model below. 

In the Five Elements model, each of the elements relate to each other via the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle) and the Controlling Cycle (the big star). Their effect on each other is pretty much described by the name of the cycle. The Nurturing relationship helps increase energy; the controlling relationship helps decrease energy. Both are needed because too much of anything is as bad (and sometimes even worse) than too little. Balance is the goal and the model has all that is needed to keep each element – and the whole – in balance. The presence of an overabundance of fear during this election (and the 2020 election, as well) says that there was too much Water energy being expressed almost everywhere.

Those familiar with the Five Elements model know that too much Water energy will eventually give rise to too much Wood energy because Water feeds Wood on the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle). Too much Wood energy creates anger and violence. We saw examples of this at various times during this 2016 campaign (and we are seeing a whole lot more of it during the 2020 election cycle). 

But it’s important to note that for the Water personality – and remember, we all have Water energy in us – the initial issues are usually fear and distrust. Sadly, yet understandably, these exact conditions have changed little in the two days since the election; we still have an abundance of fear.  

Clearly, we need less fear, more trust. And looking at our model, we can see it is Earth’s job to control excess Water via the Controlling Cycle (the big star). So, in a country consumed by fear, we need more Earth energy. And what is one of the most defining attributes of the Earth element and its elemental personality? Compassion! 

If you are on the losing side of this election, perhaps you can muster a bit of compassion for the fearful people who have lost something – jobs, lifestyles, pride in country – and who voted in droves for the winning candidate. If you are on the winning side of this election, perhaps you can muster a bit of compassion for those who are terrified that they are about to lose something like rights, freedoms, or pride in country. 

Honestly, it’s right there in the Five Elements model. More Earth energy, more compassion, will help manage the turbulent Water energy creating the fear overload we are all feeling right now. And that could lead to healing, which would be a very, very good thing. I’m sure going to try!

(And for those of you reading this in 2020, it’s going to take even more Earth energy than in 2016 to help heal this country. Besides compassion, Earth energy is also exemplified by kindness, stepping up to help others in need, and demonstrating caring in every conceivable way. May we all bring to our country as much Earth energy as we can muster in the coming days. And may that be enough to heal us back to a functional whole.)

Blessings to all of us and to America!

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