I believe this moment holds a new possibility for us all.
This election has torn me open and at the same time deeply insprired me. I am scared you will think that is ridiculous, but I would like to share my experience because I want to believe that this moment holds a new possibility for us all.
(This was written through my deep pain as I sat on the morning of November 8th on a train amongst what I projected were hundreds of other profoundly hurting and scared people.)
I have often heard that we are all one. I’ve never known what that meant. But I do know that every person around me is basically the same as me. Like me, they just wants to be loved. To not be alone. To not be scared. And to love those around them.
And yet we are so walled off from one another. So separate. Rather than seeing loving hearts everywhere we turn, we see people we mistrust. People from whom we need to protect ourselves. Guard ourselves. And so we all live in our own little walled-off worlds. Basically alone.
We are even separate from the ones closest to us. We distrust our own partners, our lovers, our best friends. How few of us truly spread open our hearts to any other person ever? Maybe in those first moments of falling in love, when we feel so adored, before we realize this person can hurt us. But then we quickly go back to a solitary existence where we see others as dangers from whom we need to shield some parts of ourselves. Hiding what we each go through on the inside: our insecurities, doubts, longings and fantasies.
How many of us feel safe enough to ever just be ourselves?
We live in a world of others. Everyone is other. Rather than seeing our neighbors as a source of community and companionship, we see them as someone from whom we need to protect ourselves. And so when they annoyingly leave their trash can in our driveway that little grievance becomes the point of contact. When they play loud music we build our story that they are bad people, different from us. When they cut us off in traffic and we yell back, we perpetuate the walls between us, the distrust.
Of course we will trigger one another. That is the nature of relating. But when these triggers do not occur within a context of connection and trust, then they become the only points of contact. If we don’t love one another more courageously then the only moments of interaction we have are the trash cans and traffic fights.
Far worse than that is when our only point of contact with a huge percentage of the population is simplified into those conservatives or liberals and their bad ideas. When all we know is of ‘those people’ who seem so different from us is from our favorite news program or website which always talks about ‘those people’ in that same way. As if ‘those people’ are actually different from ourselves. As if the members of the alt-right or the liberals are actually different. As if we are not all actually just humans wanting to be loved and safe and happy. All wanting to live a life of being useful and caring to those around them.
My initial response to the election results was to blame others. James Comey, Republicans, Jill Stein, Hillary. . . But then I felt the grief and fear behind that blaming. My grief for our country that I value so, my grief for all the people who are hurting so much, my fear of darker future with limitted freedom. It’s so easy to blame instead of feeling, but it makes me feel so much more alone. Maybe I can feel closer with my friends as we blame together, but still I feel painfully separate from millions around me. Bad mouthing Trump hurts me becasue I now understand that he speaks for millions who are suffering within our own borders.
Trump and this election has helped me come in contact with this way that I have subtly dismissed these people as different from myself. I see now how I have unconscioulsy ignored the depth of the pain that millions of my countrymen are enduring.
I see how my judgements of these supposed ‘others’ is an easier path to take than feeling the depth of their suffering and the failure of our society to provide a safe country for them in which to thrive. It is easier to see them as close-minded or racist or sexist or rageful. But behind my judgement is my pain. And behind their judgement is theirs.
So today I ask myself how do I move beyond these judgements and conceptions of difference? How do I move beyond this fear of other people?
I have to start by realizing how scared I are. How guarded and protected I am. I am choosing to explore what I am so scared of.
And I have to take bigger risks to step beyond my little bubble of self-protection. To reach beyond the jail walls I built to protect my heart that actually stop me from living a truly full life.
Trump and his apparent conceptions of other has inspired me to acknowledge how scared I am of others. How scared I am of all of you. That you will judge me or reject me or hurt me. I see more clearly how it is my fear and the defensive judgements of you and myself that keeps me separate.
I don’t expect I can suddenly bare my heart to everyone, but I do know that I can start with the truth of my fears and maybe even share it with you when I feel it in the moment. It is my repeated experience that by starting with acknowledging my fear, I have seen that safety and love can come of their own accord.
Perhaps I am clinging to optimism in the face of the profound fear I feel, but I do believe in the inherent goodness of everyone and that love is more powerful than fear, and I also know we all have a lot of wounding and it’s going to take work on each one of our parts – not to change the system, but to face ourselves.
I want to acknowledge that I speak from my white male privledge and know that millions of people in our country are in danger of real harm as a result of this election. I am not talking about excusing bigotry or meditating rather than acting. I believe that we need to act to protect everyone of us. And I believe that I am more powerful if that action comes from knowing myself and learning to love all those around me.