I know the news is hard to watch, and that no matter what you believe or who you back, someone is ready to make you wrong. It seems as if all the worst traits, the hate, fear, prejudice and every ‘ism’ we have struggled to tamp down is being fueled, encouraged and made to seem somehow justified.
I have never been a person who regularly watches the news. I generally have my fill of confusion and half-truths while helping my clients sort out their harried minds and lives. The news…not a ‘sport’ I want to follow. But now, I feel compelled to turn it on, and I watch with a surreal sense of dread. I could submit to the fear, and buy into the rising panic, but I know that will only add to the divisiveness at the root of the issues. So I imagine a country, that while flawed to its foundations, also has an ideal of equality, a spirit of acceptance, a drive towards tolerance, inclusion, intelligence, cooperation and kindness that can be fed and fostered and grown in each of us. And then I can breathe again.
I feel a compelling drive to find within myself the balance point between warrior and monk, but I often seesaw wildly through my days, ready to fight, ready to flee…feeling open and empathic and kind towards others, then 10 minutes later feeling angry and judgmental and shut down. I am a fucking mess. We are a fucking mess.
The question is, HOW do we as individuals reestablish a sense of community in a culture that can ignore genuine morality in favor of moralism, justification and falsehood? Fairness, sound policy and equal rights are not ‘liberal snowflake ideals’, they are the groundwork upon which the founding fathers, built this nation, despite their own flaws and prejudices. It is a blueprint for ongoing conscious evolution. The opposing force of which is extinction.
I have four suggestions to share with you that have helped me stay grounded in the face of upheaval.
1. Water and grow your kindness. Meet that new neighbor, let someone go ahead in the grocery line, send that belated birthday card, take someone out for coffee…slow down enough to care. Tell your friends and family that you appreciate them
2. Starve your judgments. Don’t engage in bashing, trashing, lamenting in any way that contributes to the ‘us vs them’ mentality. I know this is hard. I know lots of people are willing ignore reality in favor of their beliefs. But, if you check your sources, tell the truth, and stick to the facts, you will not contribute to the shit show.
3. Find your Courage. Refuse to be silent in any situation in which someone is being treated badly. You don’t need to be a ‘hero’ just step up, speak out, video the issue or call the police if needed. Do not stand by and watch in silence, then complain later. Show up. Sign the petition. Attend the rally.
4. Take care of yourself. Give yourself space to relax. Self-care includes having fun with friends and getting over petty disagreements, and doing whatever brings you joy. Play.
Each of these four measures comes with challenges. I face my own fears, anger, prejudices and angst every day as I put my attention on opportunities to be kind, honest, courageous and playful. I learn a little more every day about how to notice and accept my own shadow, and make conscious choices about who I am and how I want to live. On good days, when I am not see-sawing madly, I feel the stir of hope, and I can envision a future in which we are sane and kind, protected and connected, political and honest.
We can evolve in a way that fosters community, uplifts the needy and brings honesty and cooperation to the shared goals of health and well-being. Liberty and Justice is meant for all. May we make it so.