Monday, April 1, 2019

Two prime examples of the Wood element out of balance (2)

Instead of the constant mantra-like repetitions of key phrases, which are one of the hallmarks of Theresa May’s speeches, we have instead in Donald Trump a different kind of example of the Wood element out of balance.  His Wood element appears as though trapped eternally in a kind of infantile world, with bursts of often incoherent words babbling forth in uninhibited tweets, much like a child enjoying itself with a new toy.  He combines this with a need to make a stream of off-the-cuff decisions without apparently giving any thought to their consequences.  I see this as the Wood element, the element of spring, growing innumerable little buds and shoots without worrying about which of these will develop into full-grown plants, instead just taking pleasure in all this activity for activity’s sake.  

I like to think of each element as having its particular place along the cycle which represents our lifetime.  According to this, Wood represents our childhood, Fire our youth and early maturity, Earth our full maturity, Metal the time of late adulthood and early old age, and Water, that mysterious time  which represents both the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next, offering us the seeds of the future.  Being the child element, Wood people therefore express much of the joyousness of the young.  But as with all children, this sense of uninhibited enjoyment can reveal its imbalance in different ways;  it can become suppressed, or it can become exaggerated.  Theresa May and Donald Trump are two very clear, and contrasting, examples of this.

It was significant that when asked to describe an incident when she had been a naughty child, the only one Theresa May could recall (or the only one she wanted to share) was a rather harmless time when she ran into a field of growing corn.  By any standards this could hardly be considered a very wicked thing for a young child to do, but it was significant that she regarded it as such.  Her feelings of guilt about this seemed to me to show evidence of some suppression of Wood’s natural exuberance rather than enjoyment of it.  From then on I began to regard her as a very good example of inhibited Wood, the suppressed emotion associated with this being what we call a lack of anger. 

Trump, on the other hand, shows signs of quite the reverse.  His Wood element is not only not suppressed as May’s appears to be, but is allowed much too much freedom to express itself in a totally uninhibited and inappropriate way.  The emotion he shows is therefore what we could call an excess of anger.  The pointed finger, one of the characteristic Wood gestures, as he furiously jabs the air as though attacking those he is arguing against, is also evidence of this.  Suppressed anger and excess anger are the two sides of the Wood element out of balance.  Neither can be said to be an appropriate emotion to be displayed by the leader of a country.  This can be contrasted to their detriment, and often is, with Barack Obama’s more mature and more balanced emotional expression, which I interpret as being that of a thoughtful Metal element, a much more appropriate emotion for one who is asked to lead his country.

The only signs of the Wood element that I could observe from looking at clips on TV or social media were those associated with sound and emotion, since I could obviously not observe colour clearly or sense smell.  Their voices both bear the hallmark of Wood’s distinctive forcefulness. Trump’s is a more overtly shouting voice, whilst May’s has a much more controlled tone.  Their way of walking, too, expresses the two very different sides of Wood very clearly.  Trump stomps along with heavy feet, and sits forward almost aggressively in a clear attempt to control whoever he is sitting next to, whilst May’s body and facial movements are more tightly controlled.  In fact, a New York Times article on May has just described her, appropriately, as “famously wooden”.  Her jaw is clenched, with tight neck muscles, always a sign of the Wood element under stress, and she now walks in an increasingly hunched position, with bent shoulders.  All these are signs of Wood’s control over our tendons and ligaments showing its stress.

Interestingly, both Theresa May and Donald Trump like to surround themselves with a very close band of advisers, chosen not for their expertise but because they apparently don’t feel threatened by them.  They are both reluctant to appoint experienced people with a proven record of expertise in a given field, relying instead on hand-picked advisers, often friends, whom they catapult into jobs for which they are completely unqualified.  Or, in the case of Theresa May, not only friends.  Think of her surprising appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, a man totally unsuited to the delicate negotiations required, but nonetheless appointed in the hope that such a dangerous opponent of hers would have to show apparent loyalty to her in his new position.  This was another example of an extremely unwise, ill thought-out decision.

Neither May nor Trump appears to have the emotional depth necessary to show empathy of any kind with their fellow human beings in distress.  We should think here of Theresa May’s unwillingness to visit the Grenfell tower block until a few days after the fire, and Trump’s equally unfeeling approach to locking young children up in cages on the Mexican border. 

To end this blog on a happier note, it is useful to contrast what I have written with a shining example of an appropriate human reaction to tragic events which was that of Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, whose response to the shootings in the Christchurch Mosques could not be faulted.  It helps, of course, that she is Fire, I believe, which is the element most capable of showing its emotions, “wearing its heart on its sleeve”, as we say.  It may always be more difficult for Wood to show a similar level of empathy however balanced it is, but certainly not the complete lack shown by these two leaders.