As did many of you, I stayed up way past my bedtime Tuesday night to watch history unfold and expectations have an epic fail. Emotions ruled the night and the logic of polling data was no match. I feel deep disappointment, disturbed, sad, but not really surprised by one half of the country pulling the rug out from the other half. ‘Not unlike a marriage in trouble, it can take the shock of an affair or your partner announcing they want a divorce to wake up to something’s really wrong. “We the People” are in trouble, not unlike a marriage where one or both people insists the other person is the problem and the other must change. Sound familiar?
“We the People” is a dream worth fighting for, worth getting uncomfortable for, and worth owning your part of what’s wrong, for. Dismissing those we disagree with is “two wrongs don’t make it right” in action and nothing good comes from doing so. “We the People” means when you don’t agree with or understand a position or a concern of “them”, you seek to understand their concerns and experiences. Not doing so got us the once unthinkable as our next President. Ouch.
It is said that a rising tide lifts all boats, yet a clear message this Tuesday is how too many people’s boats are not rising, but sinking. Yes, misogyny showed up, yes 50’s retro showed up, and yes, racism showed up. But to explain the results of this election on bad behavior and simpletons is to continue to ignore the large numbers of people feeling helplessness and hopelessness about the promise of “We the People”. If the results of Tuesday’s election kicked your butt, show up more, speak up more, and stand up more for who and what you hold most dear. This poem by Anne Dillard says it well:
“There is no one but us,
and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready,
and our children busy and troubled,
-as if innocence had ever been-
that our innocent fathers are all dead,
with the notion that we have come at an awkward time,
a generation comforting ourselves
but only us,
on the face of the Earth,
nor a clean hand nor a pure heart
There is no one to send,
having each of us chosen wrongly,
made a false start, failed,
yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures,
and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and
But, there is no one but us.
There never has been.”
“We the People” is a big dream given to Americans for tending and nurturing and there is no one but us to do so. We were born for a time demanding we seek to understand each other through compassion, not committed to our divisions. Tuesday’s results reflected the state of “We the People” and it was painful. Yet, I take inspiration from how Rumi invites us to engage the pain life brings us in his poem below:
“Overcome any bitterness that may have come
because you were not up to the magnitude of pain
that was entrusted to you.
Like the Mother of the world
who carries the pain of the world in her heart,
each one of us is a part of her heart
and is endowed with a certain measure of her pain.
You are sharing in the totality of that pain
and you are called to meet it in joy
instead of self-pity”
Meeting pain with joy, with compassion for the others and yourself, will be critical for leading us out of seemingly impossible challenges of our times. We were born with no map for these times, yet within each of our heart and souls is all the guidance and courage we need. Few are our true leaders, perhaps so we learn to lead our life in common unity with each other.
In closing, I leave you with this poem from Lao-Tzu which helps me adjust my altitude when I am feeling hopeless or helpless about the world I was born to love and care for, with the light of my soul guiding my way through times of darkness:
“What is a good man but a
bad manʼs teacher?
What is a bad man but a good manʼs job?
If you donʼt understand this, you will get lost,
however intelligent you are.
May your Light guide your way,