Capitol Breach: A Wake Up Call

by Jan 9, 2021Empowerment, Personal Growth

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Capitol Breach: A Wake Up Call

Dr. Najmun Riyaz

Four years ago, Donald J. Trump got elected as the president of the United States. I noticed many of my friends who voted for him were celebrating his victory. They came from all different faiths: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and even atheists. From other races, genders, ethnicities, and many foreign countries of origin. During those celebrations, I was having a hard time comprehending the rationale behind their selection of this individual to lead the most powerful nation in the world. 

Having a background in behavioral health, I could not help but come up with my own evaluation of Mr. Trump as someone who seemed entitled, dismissive, lacking empathy, and appeared impulsive in his decision making. All this was based on watching his debates, how he communicates with reporters, in his interviews, reading about his upbringing, and his books. I was obviously in no position to diagnose him, but it was pretty apparent that he exhibited lots of traits of narcissistic and even psychopathic tendencies. Some form of bipolar disorder, or disinhibition, perhaps due to something like frontotemporal dementia, could be considered in the differential diagnosis. But to come to a full diagnostic conclusion of underlying psychopathology, one would need to do a thorough psychiatric exam and several other testings.  

Many of those friends who voted for him, I knew both personally and at a professional level. Most of them were kind, compassionate, reasonable, friendly, hardworking, and honest people. They came from very diverse backgrounds and seemed to have inclusive mindsets as well.

So I kept wondering to myself, what is it about this man that they liked? I doubted that any of their values aligned with the values of Mr. Trump. So why did they vote for him, and why were they celebrating his victory? 

When I asked them, they said, “Well, he is like us. He talks like us. He does not come across as a politician. He will understand our problems.” 

I thought to myself, why would you want anyone who is “like us” to be leading this powerful nation? To be in that position, you need to have an extreme amount of self-control, wisdom, and ability to carefully execute your ideas and have a full understanding of the consequence of your actions. And most of us are just average people! 

As I started thinking about it a little more, I realized that they had not voted for him because they were in alignment with his policies or values. They seemed to be fed up with the previous leaders, their policies, and lots of empty or unfulfilled promises. They were looking for a leader who could connect with them, understand them and their daily struggles. They did not want a politician, but an average person with who they could identify with. There might have been some who may have thought of him like that old authority male figure of the family, who sort of takes care of everyone and everything.  

And that’s when I realized many different aspects of human nature. 

Firstly, when we are frustrated, stressed,  anxious, and disgruntled, our chances of making mistakes are way higher. Our decisions are based on impulse and need, rather than a carefully thought out plan. And it is this state of mind that individuals with bad intentions can take advantage of. We can become easy targets for manipulators and corrupt individuals with narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies. 

Secondly, societies across the globe, be it underdeveloped nations, Islamic nations, countries with dictatorial rulers and or even democratic nations like America, still can be and to some extent are under the influence of the notion of seeing powerful males, with a big persona, loud voice, and an authoritarian sort of attitude, as saviors. 

Thirdly, I realized how vulnerable we humans could be, irrespective of our status, or the extent of our freedom. 

It also gave me some answers to the questions as to why and how so many past civilizations became extinct. Societies, which once were the epitome of art, culture, history, education, science, and trade got dismantled within a few decades or even a few years. Some of them became victims of terrorism, and others switched to monarchy or dictatorship. 

The state of anxiety in people, created from lack of resources, poverty, basic human rights, or from the presence of selfish and corrupt leaders, can develop a breeding ground for individuals and organizations like ISIS, al-Qaeda, or even other evil regimes, who can then take advantage of such vulnerable societies with their evil actions.

What happened in the Capitol this week is an example of that human nature playing out in the world’s most powerful democracy. Individuals with psychopathic tendencies who came to power by taking advantage of such vulnerable and anxious people succeeded in creating the same mindset as exists in most parts of the world, where extremism and dictatorship run rampant. And now groups like Proud Boys, QAnon, and other white supremacist groups have joined that list.

What unfolded this week was extremely disturbing. Probably the saddest day in America. But it is also a wake-up call, an opportunity for all of us to look deeper and ask ourselves questions. How and what got us here? 

The concern I felt after hearing my friends’ rationale for voting for Trump being like “us” unfortunately did come true. Not once, but repeatedly, in various incidents over these last four years of his presidency. And it finally unfolded into a complete nightmare.

Being an optimist by nature, there is also a message, a positive message, a hope in that statement. If we want our leaders to be like us, to understand our pain, to lead by actions and not just rhetoric, then we not only have to understand our control and responsibility for who we decide to put in the world’s highest and most powerful office. We may also have to work on the need to instill in ourselves an ability to connect, embrace values of integrity, honor, inclusion, compassion, farsightedness, and wisdom. So that in case any one of us, or our children decides to run for such a position in the near future, we can do justice to it. We can honor the trust that people put in us, and above all develop a solid understanding of the fact that our actions will have consequences. 

We also have an obligation to become better role models for our children, where we no longer propagate messages of “boys will be boys,” “men don’t cry,” “it is what it is,” “man up,” so on and so forth. We mustn’t reproduce age-old dysfunctions or generations of inherited toxic culture as a standard for our societies, but instead, create a healthy culture of encouraging children to question every aspect of the belief system of the communities they live in. This way, the world they create for themselves will be based on self-awareness, righteousness, honesty, integrity, and a healthy mindset, thus leading to the growth of nations, and the growth of us individuals.

It all begins with us. We may choose to point fingers at others, judge each other, blame each other. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for us to think about who we are, where we came from, and where we are headed.


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