Yesterday my college classmate Jon Marc Hannibal posted the VICE News video of the torch march in Charlottesville, VA. The camera person was up so close to the marchers that I felt as if I were there. I was horrified. I could hear what people on both sides were shouting. The white supremacists/Nazis were shouting “blood and soil”, a Nazi rallying cry during the 1920’s. But some were also shouting “They won’t replace us. The Jews won’t replace us. The blacks won’t replace us.” The camera shifted to a young black woman shouting “Black lives matter! Black lives matter!”
It was not until this morning that something clicked for me: Everyone wants to matter. No one wants to be replaced. Everyone wants to be important. And when people are raised with fear and hatred of “the other”, because of their own insecurities, that hatred becomes racism, malignant narcissism, and sometimes murderous rage.
In babies and very young children, narcissism is normal. In adults it’s a disorder showing excessive need for admiration, superiority, and a disregard for other people’s feelings. In Buddhism, no one is more important than anyone else. We all have the Buddha within us. We all have a heart of compassion. Whether it can be accessed is the real question. Present day psychology says that treatment can help people with the disorder, but it can’t be cured. If this is true, where do we go from here? We need leadership that can enforce restraint on those who would harm others. And we need it now.