The Desirable Story
I don’t care whom you voted for or against, or even if you didn’t vote at all. What I do care about is:1) that we understand and deal effectively with the pain most people in this country are in, 2) that we use this election as a wakeup call to look deeply at the reality of our present situation, 3) that we look at how and where we go from here, and 4) that we recognize that we have one common home—Earth—and we need to work and live for the common good of all.
Looking more deeply at pain, my own and others'
This election has shown us how much pain people in this country are in. Working-class folks are understandably angry that the American Dream is an illusion, that they are struggling financially, that much attention is focused on specific groups like Black Lives Matter, LGBT, immigrants and women, while they are seemingly ignored.
We deal with emotional or psychic pain as individuals, but we are not encouraged to understand or deal consciously and effectively with pain within our culture. It takes great courage to allow our pain to surface, to express the hurt so that it doesn’t come out as hatred, anger, blame and scapegoating “the other.”
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person’s story enough suffering and sorrow there to disarm all hostilities.
More than anything, I think it would help if we recognize that the economic and political system that benefits only a few is at the root of a great deal of the pain people feel. Until we address that, people will continue to suffer and express their pain in anger and hatred of one another. We have an unjust and unsustainable system that puts profit over people and the planet.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. —Matthew 8:12
My own “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is primarily about how this election was such a shocking assault on the human values of dignity, civility, respect and inclusiveness. It’s about how it unleashed and tolerated violence, anger, hatred, meanness and fear-mongering. That energy is now embedded in our future president! It makes me unbearably sad to see what we are doing to each other, to other living beings and to the planet. If the description of the steps of the grieving process are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, then I am definitely not done grieving because I continue to cycle through these phases.
If you are grieving, for whatever reason, you might find my column on Despair helpful. (February 2015)
Reality, Crisis, Opportunity
We need to look squarely and clearly at the reality and dangers ahead of us. I’m not talking about reality in the spiritual sense with a capital R. I’m talking about the reality in the United States at this post-election moment. We have much to worry about for the safety of people of color, non-Christian people, immigrants, people with different gender identities. We have much to worry about for the health of the environment. We must be watchful for and counter the rising tide of hatred and hate crimes, standing up to injustice with fierce love. We also need to recognize that there are people who want to maintain the status quo, who actually want to generate hate, to persecute and malign others. This is a harsh reality.
So what do we do? To paraphrase Fr. Richard Rohr, We need to learn how to live in hope, joy and freedom even when and if the so-called bad guys are in charge. Prepare for the worst. As we say in Christian language, be prepared for the cross. Be prepared for things to fall apart. Hope and work for the best.
Part of our wakeup call is realizing we need to connect with each other in ways we haven’t tried before. We need to listen and try to understand widely divergent points of view so that we may find common ground. We need to see beyond our ethnic, gender, political, religious and class identities, and see each other first as brother and sister human beings.
There is also great opportunity now for justice and peace movements to come together. We can see that this is already happening. Just look at the large and diverse support at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. There is growing awareness that our economic and political system must change for the good of people and the planet. States and local communities are taking action to end political corruption and build strong local economies. I heartily recommend YES! magazine and The Optimist to bring you this kind of news.
Where and how do we go from here?
First of all, let us envision a desirable story, a desirable society, a desirable planet future. We can spend a great deal of time “beating the drum of what we don’t want.” (Esther Hicks, The Law of Attraction). That attitude is all the more likely to bring about that reality. We must condemn and resist any behavior or policy that undermines the well being of people and the planet, but we must also focus on and work for what we DO want. Let us not be so much “anti-something or someone” as “for.” Let’s adopt the example of the Native Americans and people at Standing Rock who demonstrate as protectors, not protesters, in their nonviolent effort to stop the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Enjoy the heartening photo in my newsletter of the kid holding the sign, HONK FOR KINDNESS. Yes, that is what we are for.
Whatever activism we engage in, how we do it—our spirit and attitude—is as important as what we do. I like CODEPINK’s call to us: "Rise, Love, Resist." To that I would add that we need to inform ourselves and build systems in our local communities that do work. We need to support people who will work for positive change. In spite of already busy lives, we need to make room for activism. My column on activism (July 2016) will give you some ideas.
We are determined to work and fight until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream. —Martin Luther King, Jr. 1955
Our common home
If we imagine all Earth’s people living in one house on five acres, we’d have to figure out how to get along, how to feed and provide water for everyone, among other things. If someone dug up the garden looking for gold, we’d have to choose between eating and having useless pieces of metal around. We wouldn’t tolerate someone trashing the kitchen and not cleaning it up. We’d learn to share. We’d learn to resolve conflicts and disagreement without shooting one another. We would make decisions for the common good.
HONK FOR OUR COMMON HOME!
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