Paying Attention
Bill McDonald’s Website Newsletter
February 2017 - Volume 17, No. 2
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An Anatomy of Hope for 2017 (Part Two of Three)

The rollercoaster ride continues.

In the amusement park models, we can be pretty sure that no matter how we feel, the built in mechanical constraints will hold us sufficiently till the end of the thrill-filled ride. However the TrumpLand model has no such apparent guarantees, except his personal “promises.” Truth telling is easily cast off in that alternate reality. And many are hiding in their houses, afraid.

Much of what’s happening, seems lifted from the clinical guidebook to a psychiatric hospital. I find myself checking the news multiple times a day so as to not lose track of this rapidly developing scary soap opera. Already the words “mentally ill” are being spoken in public and in print of our new president. As a mental health professional, I’ve seen this for some months, and am afraid for those many who pinned their legitimate hopes on this rogue Pied Piper.

In the world of the passively sane, the generous wisdom is “Well, just give him a chance. He deserves at least that.” Many modern women recognize well the proffered advice to just give the abusive husband another chance. “Mister Trump, he just loves the women - always has.”

In the world of the mental hospital, the wisdom takes the form of paying close attention to their people, recognizing the diseases, and knowing when to open the locker where the restraints are stored. And in this case, drugs are not a viable option. It’s not a treatable condition.

Many of us are learning some of the deep wisdom contained in our US Constitution. Those old boys (forgive the gender attribution) knew a thing of two about wresting order out of potential chaos.

Who now will tell the emperor that he has no clothes? In today’s world the singular truth-speaking little boy would be either beaten, drugged or placed in foster care. And in a few months may also be denied any medical or emergency treatment.

Hope (current specific examples)

One specific area of hope is the beginning of a revitalized news media, of  journalism as an art and practice of truth seeking, of losing their fear or editorial reluctance to speak truth to power.(And in this case, a power too readily screams back with a toxic viper’s tongue).    

The women! Many a good man knows it’s frequently the inherent power of the women that will save us. And as my mother would often say, “‘nuff said.” Women marching is a different energy than men marching. And as good men protect the women, the women have long protected their men.

And the satirists. Our demagogue (demigod) bristles over his portrayals on Saturday Night Live. The political cartoonists are trimming their pens. In Hitler’s Germany, the comic could not perform unless an officer of the government was present. In my own youth (many years back) I remember our McCarthy and HUAC years. But always good satire is powerful, and dangerous. I recall a comment from somewhere last Summer, when the presidential campaign was already hot and rabid, someone commented that perhaps the only power that could counter Mr. Trump would be well-focused satire.

But never doubt the power of a government (aka “my administration”) to stifle criticism, especially satire. I remember the Hollywood ‘blacklists’, and again now witness daily the power of an angry leadership to intimidate those who irritate him.

Watch the never-happy facial gestures of Mr. Trump and the dead-hollow puppet eyes of Kelleyanne Conway. Deep inside they each mean to purpose great damage. Never doubt that.

Deep inside the newsrooms and editorial offices of our national (and hopefully even local) press corps, the conversations are deadly serious. The duty of a free press and the welfare of an informed populous lie in the balance. Much of the emergent heroism of this time will be some of ‘those folks.’


Hope (from an even deeper place)

Now I come to the place I had in mind when I first envisioned this month’s Newsletter.

There’s something in the human psyche that will arise to greatness in times like these. To look at the world through the eyes of a deeper vision, is to see the stirring of the imagination, by which people become (re)connected to each other in such times of chaos, unrest, fear, alienation. This is the true work of good psychotherapy (my own life work) - which involves much more than just healing a ‘mental illness.’

This is why people are drawn to literature and drama, whether it’s novels, cinema, television, theater, Harlequin romances or world mythology - they all arise out of turmoil and betrayal toward the hope of a higher order of human community. This is why “great again” sounded so tantalizing. But then so do pharmaceutical commercials.   

Let me give you a link to one person who has influenced and encouraged me for many years. He is Michael Meade, a student of world mythology,  prolific writer, storyteller, mentor, and a guide into the frequent darkness as well as the joy of human experience. I’ve been following his work and words for a quarter century now, and have spent some time with him personally. Go visit his website -  There’s always lots of audio and written stuff (free) to give you a sense of his wisdom of hope and involvement. (Of course I like him also because he thinks like me.)

Our own hope of doing

Next month will be the third and final of this triple essay meant to provide a skeleton upon which we can begin to place some new hope and vision. In my own words I’ll speak of a richer vision of community in times like ours.

In the political climate ahead, a lot of people are unfortunately going to get hurt. Now, more than ever,

Pay Attention


"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always." Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader (1869 - 1948)

Comments (7)

  • I hope the third essay will be more uplifting. You really sound down with our country’s situation.

    — Alice, 2/1/2017
  • More Than Hope

    Your wise thoughts direct us to hope. In times like these, we are stronger than we realize. Continue to send messages that will inspire and bring our world back to the greatness we know .

    — Dawny Cromwell, 2/1/2017
  • Evident

    Alice: I think Bill does address hope but from a platform of aptly observed current government and world situation. As Bill always ends: Pay Attention.

    — Cynthia A Garman, 2/1/2017
  • Clarity & hope

    Thank you for your insights, affirmations & clarity of what is happening & hope that what is right will always prevail!

    — Denise, 2/1/2017
  • P.s.

    I just wish truth and justice would prevail sooner rather than later before a lot of damage is done & people hurt.

    — Denise, 2/2/2017
  • Totally sad to think that you feel 50 percent of the population has no clue. Well we do have a clue! There are different roads to each destination... and some of us are tired of taking the scenic route. We are running out of gas. The best part of the newsletter is when you said" And you liked him because he thinks like you". Well We are not cattle... we like him because we think like him. It takes all types to balance the teeter totter of life. If we all think the same we all fall off. So chill out and consider another view... think Homeostasis..... and try to BE as inclusive as you preach to be.

    — Beatrice, 2/6/2017
  • Agreement


    Wow! Some of us fall off the rail! Misunderstanding take place and we are off and running. Hurt each other without thinking it through or maybe misunderstand what is being said here.
    Yes, I agree we do need to listen for truth! Sometimes it seems there is none. Each of us thinks differently yet find a link to the other. Let us be the ones to carry the inclusiveness on as is so important now more than ever. Not be a follower of lies and craziness. We all need someone to touch base with and make it feel right to us. It is after all, all about US!

    — Carol, 2/10/2017

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Bill McDonald
Fenton, Michigan

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