I was out walking my dog at a local park when I first met Mercedes. We started chatting about our puppies and how cute they were playing together. We then started chatting about all sorts of other things, when Mercedes shared that she grew up in South America. She continued by sharing that her husband’s family was Jewish and the prejudices they experienced when folks realized her husband wasn’t Latino and the fact that they were in a mixed marriage.
To lighten things up our conversation went on to travel, and the countries we’ve both been to. As the conversation progressed the topic of politics came up. Mercedes didn’t come out and say it, yet she let me know she was a part of the MAGA movement and was a supporter of Donald J. Trump.
Mercedes went on to share all sorts of misinformation with me, and it got to the point I felt the need to provide her with real facts, without my emotions getting in the way. I had my cell phone with me and started to access the internet to show her proof of what she believed was not fact, yet instead was misinformation.
The one item I was shocked at, was that Mercedes was sure that because of the actions of Donald Trump, the lives of people of color got better. She was clueless on how racist and antisemitic our former President was and still is.
Mercedes went on to share her belief that more employment opportunities opened up to people of color because Donald Trump was such a caring man. What shocked me most was that Mercedes was an educated Latina woman with advanced degrees. Once again I reached for my phone and shared links to videos of things he actually said.
We then moved on to talking about the Black Lives Matters movement and how and why it began. Mercedes was clueless to the reality, because this was not the information her pastor shared with his congregation. Mercedes was in shock watching various videos I was showing her and the actual facts of how and why the movement got started.
Mercedes believed her pastor when he said the internet was filled with fake news, and to only trust him and, his guidance in what to read and watch, but mostly to only depend on “Fox News” to get the truth.
As the conversation continued I started bringing up the topic of mind control and the reality that anyone can be manipulated by a cult leader. I told her it was up to her to decide if she believed her pastor was cult involved. I didn’t want to make that decision for her. She needed to practice evaluating things on her own, using her own thoughts and feelings when provided with facts.
We discussed various cults that she was aware of, and the similarities and differences between them and MAGA movement. I also made it a point to say that I was sure her pastor was the amazing person like she told me he was, I wasn’t going to get involved in that conversation with Mercedes, it wouldn’t do her any good. I wanted her to start to unitize her own personal ability to critical think, something she hadn’t done on her own in years. I also gave Mercedes names of books to read and links to videos to watch online, which she typed into her phone.
By the time we parted ways I believe Mercedes started to see through the cracks of the MAGA movement. Before saying goodbye we set up a time and day we would meet again to continue our conversation.
Not every MAGA cult member is this easy to communicate with as Mercedes. Most cult members will just want to debate you, which is something I won’t engage with. People like Mercedes I think are already questioning Donald Trump and his movement, and that’s why the discussion we had was easy.
We have a serious problem in the United States with the volume of people who have been manipulated by Donald Trump and the MAGA movement. It’s not an easy thing to help people to learn to think for themselves — instead of just believing what is fed to them by a cult leader they respect.
All we can do is plant seeds and offer support to individuals who have been manipulated by cults that promotes hate and misinformation. It’s up to each and everyone of us to reach out to our friends and family members who are cult involved the best we can to help them gently to see the truth. Keep in mind no one ever wants to admit they’ve been manipulated. So the discussions we have with our loved ones has to be non confrontational, with love and without showing anger.
It’s important to keep in mind that “whoever saves one life, saves the world entire” (Talmud).