We must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence to find that enchanted place and sing our sorrowful song. But, in that dance, and in that song, the most ancient rites of our conscience fulfill themselves in the awareness of being human.
—Pablo Neruda, Toward the Splendid City
November 9 – A Most Difficult Day
November 9, 2016. The day after the most upsetting election in, probably, US history. That might be an exaggeration for rhetorical effect, but then again, it might not. It took me nearly a month to be able to compose this post.
If you’re spiritual – if you’re reading this, chances are that you at least are open to this philosophy – you tend to be open-minded. A person whose mantra is to “live and let live.”
Why would I write about the election here? To me, what happens to people in the political situations in their countries is related to spirituality.
Spiritual folks tend to be more liberal when it comes to their pick and choice for candidates who hold elected office.
It makes sense: spiritual folk believe in the equality, peace, love and harmony for all.
We want abundance and opportunity for everyone.
We want our schools to allow anyone to be whatever they dream they can be.
We want our society to allow for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” no matter who you are or your life circumstances.
The Dalai Lama Never Had It Easy
I recall in this instance the Dalai Lama.
The Chinese invaded Tibet and many thousands of Tibetans stood in front of Potala Palace in 1959, fearing the Chinese would abduct him.
That didn’t happen, but he was forced into exile.
His land, culture and people were thwarted in order for China to use Tibet as a military outpost along the border of India.
Keep that in mind for a second as you read. I’ll come back to that.
Working Through The Hurt
The morning of November 9, I headed into work incredibly upset. Upset that the terrible rhetoric of “build the wall,” “lock her up,” and “nasty woman,” had won, among other disparaging statements against Muslims, Latinos, immigrants, and the disabled.
My only solace was that the majority of people in the US voted for a woman with years of political experience. The electoral college has, so far, dictated otherwise.
I was hurt, and felt betrayed.
Because I am a woman.
Because I speak Spanish and have Latino roots.
Because I am legally blind in one eye and have had to fight to have people take me seriously in my life.
Because I grew up helping elderly patients while my mother took in homeless immigrants and nursed them back to health.
Meditation…Was It Working?
A friend of mine who also meditates every day called me over. “Can you come see me?”
I knew why she’d asked that.
I wondered what I would say, though, because I was feeling rather devastated. I wasn’t sure if I would or could provide comfort to anyone else. I was barely holding it together, myself.
Climbing the four flights of stairs to her office, a bit of exercise allowed me to get the blood pumping and clear my head just a little.
We hugged each other when I arrived. Tears of lament streaked our faces.
A few moments later she said, “I feel so angry. Suspicious of those who would put a man with ties to so many terrible things, in power. I feel like even my own meditation practice completely falls short here. I feel out of control.”
I knew this statement was coming, because I had been grappling with similar feelings. I hadn’t yet come up with an answer to the confusion and sense of mourning that I felt.
But, in that moment, my own meditation practice bubbled up, and I became aware of my breath. I slowed my breathing and took a few moments to respond.
“Your meditation practice is helping you,” I began. “You’re aware of what you’re feeling. You’re aware of what’s going on around you. That is a sign that it is helping.”
I continued, “…And you know what? It’s okay to let yourself feel what you’re feeling. It’s okay to feel mad and sad and terrible. Peace comes with acceptance – not resistance – to these feelings. In time, these raw feelings will fade and then the real work will begin. The work of spreading love and remaining steadfast in your convictions to helping those that need help.” (These weren’t my exact words – I wasn’t taking notes – but it was something to that effect.)
The words I uttered became the answer I needed to hear, too.
I needed to feel what I felt.
It’s taken me weeks to even begin looking at all people with a loving eye again – I admit it.
But, I now know that I needed those feelings to test my resolve to my own personal mission of fostering hope and love and helping others to see their light.
Those more-negative feelings have faded.
But, they helped galvanize another part of me.
The part of me that needs and wants to fight for justice. The part of me that has to gather my courage and stand with my brethren when injustice is flying at them (or me) in the face.
Because, historically, more conservative governance means a more difficult life for marginalized people.
Think about it. Under democratic governance (I’m talking Roosevelt through Obama), the Marriage Equality Act was passed, Medicare enacted, Medicaid enacted, The Voting Rights Act, The Equal Pay Act, Head Start, the 40-hour work week, The Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act were all made into law.
To be sure, Republican governance did yield some accomplishments as well, such as the Interstate System and the Environmental Protection Agency.
But, still. Statistics, census data, and countless studies support the fact that working class and middle class citizens tend to fare better during democratic governance, not to mention the LGBTQ community, as well as women.
No system of governance is perfect. In fact, have you ever heard of the quote, “revolution is great until it degenerates into government”?
It’s time, though, to acknowledge the fact that we need a “love” party – or something like it. Justice, respect and coexistence for all.
It, too, would become imperfect. But at least the principle of trying to make the world a better place would stand.
How I would just love to shout from the mountain tops:
If we cannot get together and pedal through the universe as we sit atop this blue marble, progress and advancement beyond our own quibbling reality is impossible.
Empathy, compassion, and taking time to understand another’s point of view is so important. But, it’s so hard to listen across the isle, isn’t it?
Unyielding views and “I’m right; you’re not” certainly don’t get us anywhere.
But don’t you see? It’s our need to be heard. Our need for security. Our need to understand and get through life the best way we know how.
We are all way more alike than we are different.
But, my thoughts are with those who are not the “dominant culture.”
I have already made a personal statement against injustice with my own life choices: choosing to speak Spanish and wanting to help teach about cultural understanding.
I currently work directly with folks who live in poverty and are learning English as a second language. My job is to inspire those people out of the cycle of needing help. So they can be happy, productive, and successful contributors to society.
And so, in light of the election, I have created a lengthy to-do list for myself:
- I will continue use my gifts to live out my mission.
- I will continue my work of helping people because they are people.
- I resolve to donate to causes that perpetuate values of equality and justice.
- I will call my representatives.
- I will peacefully protest where I can.
- I will write to spread good will and love.
- I will live out my values – this is the only way I can answer to my own expectations of standing up for what is right.
- I resolve to cultivate my inner compassion and empathy so that I can know and understand better why people think the way they think – especially when I don’t understand, and especially when folks are diametrically opposite me in their opinions.
Honing In On My Sense of Purpose
All this from an election that had me feeling like a terrible slug was sucking the life out of my heart. In reality, it gave me more of a sense of purpose.
I owe it to my spiritual practice.
I owe it to the need for love in the world.
I owe it to the hope that one day we will be an Earth without borders.
Imagine that. Imagine all the people….
Imagine…that all can walk free to be exactly who they are: gay, straight, black, white, purple, chocolate, green, orange, disabled, transgendered, female, male, single, married, child-free, child-full – I don’t care. Live and let live.
Imagine…that men who are a couple can walk hand in hand on the street, like their heterosexual counterparts.
Imagine…that the disabled have all the love and support they need.
Imagine…acknowledging that immigrants helped form the backbone of US society and without their hard work, the US would be a different, less productive place.
The Dalai Lama Continues His Good Work
Back to the Dalai Lama and his example. What he has stood for.
He maintains his own daily practice.
He gets up every day and works to make the world a better place.
He chooses happiness. He spreads it. He lives it.
When asked by Western reporters what he thinks about a Trump presidency, he chuckled and said, “I’m looking forward to meeting Mr. Trump.”
He is resolute in his commitment to what he does day after day: using his spiritual practice to teach, and finds reasons to like people instead of reasons to dislike them.
On Relinquishing Control and Spreading the Love
I will close with another quote:
We can only learn to surf those waves, embracing whatever comes and using it to grow. Accepting ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our foolishness and our love. Accepting everything. Doing what we can, and flowing with the rest.
–Dan Millman, The Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior
I have a coloring page on Love, and a completed piece of artwork on Love. You can download the PDF file and print them both out, OR, alternatively, click on the image “LOVE” above and it will take you to a full resolution page where you can copy the image and save it to create a wallpaper or whatever you’d like.