The original title of this post was, “What he took from us.” I decided against this.
I woke up this morning with a better hold on my thoughts and on my body. As I learned on the Camino, a body is capable of more than we give it credit for, especially when the day requires us to get up and simply put one foot in front of the other. As the Zen quote teaches us, “Chop wood, carry water.” Or, both before and after enlightenment, we must continue to work, to improve, to continue on. But the mind, without rest and nourishment, with the stressors that send our bodies into uncontrollable shaking and tension, requires greater care, patience and kindness. And so I waited to put my words out there in there in the world until my mind could rest.
When I “woke up” yesterday (I use that lightly because I’m not sure I technically ever fell asleep on Tuesday night), I sat in my dark living room with my husband Ben and watched the sunrise. I needed to see that it would indeed do so, after such a dark night of pain for myself, the ones I love, the country, and the world. I believed that something had been taken from us–not just the belief that love could overcome hate, not just the belief that our rights would be protected by a caring leader, but over a year of feeling degraded and spit upon by a fearful, small, and ignorant man that awakened a world of hatred in a sea of vulnerable people.
But. By the end of a remarkable day, if you can call a day filled with so much pain remarkable, I realized that he had taken nothing from us, that he has already failed in breaking us apart. Ben and I, for the first time in our six-and-a-half year relationship went to church tougher. There was an interfaith service in Montclair that brought together Muslims, Jews, Agnostics, and a wide range of Christians, to both grieve and show one another that we will not be broken, that we will be brought together. This to me, is true religion. It is the recognition of our interconnectivity, it is the the turning away of no one. As we stood with our candles raised, like wands to the sky, and as we sung and chanted a Jewish song, I saw that there was light to be found. And now, with my mind rested and my spirit slowly on the path of restoration, I am drawn to my words.
The most powerful article I read yesterday was entitled, “This is Why We Grieve Today,” by Jon Pavlovitz. The site is oddly down right now, and I hope I may share it with you soon. After a morning of heated bickering online, it became clear to me that many Trump supporters, even those I am close with, were not clear about why we grieved, why we felt the heavy weight of despair and fear for the future of our planet. This bigoted, physiologically unstable man is trying to demolish a world of love and hope that we have fought so desperately to build. And we have made beautiful, beautiful progress. Yesterday, we did not grieve losing an election, losing a contest, we grieved the belief that love could triumph over hate in our political system. We grieved for the safety and the rights of our LGBTQ community, for our non-white and non-Christian friends, for ourselves as women. Yesterday, after years of being harassed on the street by dangerous men that I did not feel safe enough to yell back at, I was told that this hatred was supported, was reinforced, was strengthened. I was told that my niece and nephews, both of which are half African-American, lived in an even less-safe world. I was told that our beautiful, stunning, delicate planet was not worth the loss of financial gain, that the effort and research into renewable energy sources and safer, cleaner sources of energy-related jobs, were simply not worth the research and care, because the bottom line would not profit those in the top 1% of our financial elite. I was told that a truly lost and angry man could dupe and mislead nearly half the country into believing he would fight for them, that he was their advocate. He not only tried to steal the hope from the hearts of those that fought against him, but he made a fool of the people in my life that supported him. This is what he tried to take from us.
But he has, and will continue to, fail–as will the organizations that fight against love. For we will not stop standing together in community centers, in churches, in our schools, and in our neighborhoods, to speak up for one another, to watch out for one another, and to slowly find a way to realize that we all want to feel safe and loved. We must begin talking to one another slowly and patiently, and we must begin listening.
In the past 48 hours, I have learned two major things:
- That nearly half the country believes that something had been taken from them during the past eight years, that they were somehow losing the respect and support from a country they believed was slipping away from their grasp. They believed they were not loved, that they were forgotten. And because of this, many turned to the fear in their hearts and pinned their blame on either a minority group or a social movement, and ignored the character of the man who took advantage of their fear and sorrow. If you are reading this, I want you to know you are not forgotten and you are loved. This leader will, sadly, most likely not fight for you, and I am so sorry for the days ahead that will make this clear. But as one country, a country that was built on the ideals that all of us can act from a place of love for all beings and beliefs, we will rise above our system and protect one another.
- I also realized that I have been living in a bubble of safety. This feeling, that my right as a women, as a citizen, and a human being, could be taken from me by two men that act from places of greed and greed alone, washed over me at 2am yesterday morning. But this is how many minorities feel every day. Every morning walking down the street, watching the news, and even observing the predominantly white society in our entertainment world, they feel they are not cared for, that they are in constant danger of losing their basic freedoms. I will never thank the current President-elect for anything, but I will be grateful to the movement that followed for opening my eyes to this ignorance. And as someone who will be relatively untouched by his terrifying policies, I will stand for all of you with as much energy as I can. I cannot stay silent anymore.
For both sides reading, please take a moment to consider that we are all acting from a place of fear. And in respect to your minds, this is to be recognized, it is to be acknowledged with care. Once we acknowledge this fear, however, we must question ourselves: How is this fear causing us to act and respond? Are we staying silent in discomfort? Are we narrowing our vision to only focus (and vote) for one particular issue? Or are we allowing ourselves to grow and open our minds to all types of love? Please put your defensive swords down, and pick up your metaphorical sources of light. When you hear or read words that spark rage in you, take two deep breaths, and continue with patience and recognition of this fear that is poisoning all of us. Now is the time to speak up for one another, to act, to volunteer, to donate, to protect. We can still shock our broken political system, and prove them all wrong. We can listen to each other, respect new ways of life we may not understand, and above all, recognize which choices and actions are supported by love, and not greed or prejudice. It is okay to be wrong. It is okay to change. It is okay to reach out to someone you fear with patience and truth.
We must defend our beautiful planet, we must defend our rights to believe in different versions of God, the Universe, and our interconnectivity, and we must defend our brilliant differences in sexuality, gender, race, and background. We all have beautiful stories to tell, and if we are willing to listen and to speak up, to discover our own personal strengths and contributions, then we can all overcome this together.
I believe in you. Nothing has been taken from us, because we have not lost one another. And to quote Anne Frank:
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
I will not let go of this, and I will keep fighting for all of you in any way I can.