Cross-posted at: medium.com/the-mindful-journeyman/america-is-still-beautiful
My profession has always been political advocacy, but in the last few years my heart has been in mindfulness. So you can imagine how this past week was quite an emotional tug of war.
As a matter of personal philosophy, I believe in kindness and human decency. So I was shocked, extremely shocked, last Tuesday when a man with a complete lack of human decency became president-elect Donald Trump.
My flash reaction was to lose hope in the goodness of man, like I’d been punched in the gut by the bully of a truly harsh reality. A troublingly large amount of people turned out to be selfish and vulgar, or if not, they were OK enough with selfish vulgarity to vote for someone who is, which is almost as bad.
This goes way beyond political ideology. We can debate and respectfully disagree on the issues 'til the cows come, I’m fine with that. But even beyond Trump's particularly extremist positions--on women, minorities, religious freedom, LGBT rights, immigration, the economy, trade, taxes, the environment, and I could go on--there was little to no respect displayed by him during this campaign. The unprecedented reaction of despair and protest you’re seeing around the country right now is a direct result of that.
It was an emotionally chaotic couple of days. I couldn't sleep. I ate way too much. I distracted myself with entertainment and booze. I often felt despondent. Was I wrong all this time to believe in the goodness of humanity?
But the days passed and eventually, here and there, the fog lifted to expose the sun again.
The warm glow shined a light on the truth: America is still beautiful. It is. America is still kind and decent and loving. America is still good.
I saw it in all the diverse and hopeful faces at the peaceful protest last weekend.
I saw it in every passionate advocate at my local Sierra Club political action committee meeting.
I saw it in my mother, who is now a fierce advocate for my rights, the rights of others, and the return of decency.
I saw it in the avalanche of donations to social service charitable organizations that piled up over the last week.
I saw it in the empathy and love that my man and all our friends shared with each other as we struggled to fathom this act of aggression toward our communities and common dignity.
I see kindness and charity and compassion and yes, beauty, all around me.
Sure, I see the fear and division and violence that's going on as well. It started from top with Donald Trump and then trickled down. It's devastating for my soul to bear witness to such an open display of hatred.
But still I believe, no I know, that we are better than that. Love is stronger than hate. It always has been and it always will be.
And in the end, love will win.
So I will not give up. I will fight for justice and equality and decency because we need it now more than ever. And if you stand against those things, or support the guy who does, then I will debate with you respectfully until you understand why those things are so important.
The beauty of America still shines together as one light, radiating into the darkness, a beacon of hope in a troubled nation.
I'm outraged. And I'm totally allowed to be... for now.
This election feels like a sucker punch to everything that is right and good in the world. The shock of it is numbing. We're told we need to come together as a nation, but I'm not sure how I can do that around a person who ran entire campaign based on tearing us apart. Very few of the values of fairness and equality I hold dear are represented in our new government. I feel hopeless.
In this post-outrage world our first instinct might be to give in and give up. But that’s a corrupt mindset that only perpetuates the problem. When we feel hopeless, the first thing we need to do is go out and create hope. And we do that with mindfulness.
Now more than ever before, we need mindfulness.
We need the quiet, introspective kind of mindfulness, where we work to find peace and purpose in our daily lives. Ignoring the hatred and division that has gripped our nation, in favor of hope and light. Remembering to breathe. Remembering to meditate, do yoga, and get out in nature as much as you can. Remembering to not get caught up in the what ifs and holy shits. Remembering that no matter how many times life knocks us on our ass, we stand back up, we move forward.
We also need the loud, righteous, advocate kind of mindfulness, where we work to create more peace and purpose in the world around us. Using the hatred and division as our motivation to make them a thing of the past. Becoming activists. Becoming champions for our earth, our nation, and our fellow man, no matter what their race, faith, gender, or who they love.
This type of mindfulness isn’t going to just magically appear in your life either. This is the mindfulness you create. Start spreading love to those around you who feel hurt by this election. Start spreading understanding to those who celebrate it, because that’s the only way they will understand why you are hurt.
If you don’t like the direction this country is going in, then start taking the country the in right direction yourself. Volunteer for the causes you support. Educate yourself on the causes you don’t fully understand. Educate everyone else in a respectfully until the lesson takes root. Encourage, no demand, that your elected leaders do the right thing. And when they don’t, organize to vote them out of office the next chance you get.
Make a decision everyday to be a part of the solution by being kind to one another, by respecting all people, by protecting the environment, by becoming a fierce advocate for fairness and equality at every level of society.
It feels a little hopeless right now--we’re not used to seeing the bad guys win. But this is only the middle of the movie. It’s the dramatic part where things go south for our hero. But that tension and conflict is exactly what the good guys need to find redemption. This hopeless moment teaches us how to fix our problems, do better, and win in the end.
So lick your wounds. Be sad. Be outraged. You’re allowed to feel that way for now.
But tomorrow morning it’s time for post-outrage. It’s time to wake up and make this world a better place. It’s time to create mindfulness, and fairness, and kindness from the ground up. And it all starts with you.