I’m looking out over Lake Kenilworth in Asheville, North Carolina, and see thousands of glimmering darts of sunlight on what can sometimes be a very dark and murky body of water. And that is a metaphor that speaks to me right now as I contemplate the elections and the tears and the fears – both the dashed hopes of celebrating the first woman president and of trusting that I live in a country that really does share the values I hold so dear of inclusion and respect for all life, for mother Earth and especially for everyone living among us.
On the phone yesterday with a dear friend and colleague in Germany, we imagined what it was like for people living in Nazi Germany seeing the darkness of the Nazis descend all around them, the hopelessness and helplessness and complete disbelief that things could get so bad.
And, without flinching at my fear and despair, without in any way stepping into ignoring the very real suffering that I fear will be unleashed, I also want to take a deep breath and ask myself how this too is part of the great healing that my country and the world needs – a healing that was needed way before the election, way before my childhood spent watching Vietnamese bodies burning with napalm, way before my childhood watching hoses on black people walking across the bridge singing Christian hymns, a healing that goes back to the beginning of the foundation of this country and every country. The healing that we all took birth to participate in.
Evolution, the rising of the human species, either from a spiritual or biological point of view, didn’t stop when we were born. We are part of it. So what is happening here that is part of our calling to participate in evolution?
So I think back to the days before the election when I was already celebrating that I would wake up to the first woman president, carrying on the legacy of the first African-American family to live in the big white house that had been built by slaves.
I thought back to the incredible fear and anxiety I was already feeling about what the Trump supporters were going to do when “we “ won.
And when I woke up in the middle of the night on election night to hear that we didn’t have to worry about that because they won, my grief was so huge that I forgot that I’d already been experiencing a great deal of fear and anxiety about what was going to happen.
So here we are on the “loser” side of the equation instead of the “winner” side of the equation. And where can I find the power and inspiration in that – the power to accelerate the healing and transformation that is the potential of every human being and every collective human society?
Isn’t it by bringing into the “ loser” side of the equation all of the values and insights and ways of living and being that are the change that we want to see? Can we so transform the camp of the “losers” , which I am now firmly in, from a disempowered confused angry judgemental mass, into the actual energy of the possibility of inclusion – where our camp isn’t about “ fighting opposing or name-calling and putting down and detracting and threatening – no our camp, the very purpose that we have come into being to fulfill, is to model a way of social change that is inclusive of everyone’s needs –
As Gandhi and Martin Luther King and some of my Palestinian nonviolent theoretician friends have said over and over, our nonviolence, our compassion, is not conditioned on how other people respond to it. It’s not a cloak that we take on and off at will. It is who we are. It is our stand.
And I don’t mean that we take off the cloak of justice of protecting women’s rights and immigrants’ rights and African Americans and Muslims and Mother Earth, oh dear mother Earth and her protectors at Standing Rock. No, I mean that our camp steps forward to fully pursue and stand for and insist on a seat at the table – and we do it without the hate and the rancor and the name-calling.
We do it by putting ourselves deeply into the hearts of people who voted for Trump because they wanted change. Don’t we all want change? Because they wanted inclusion. Don’t we all want inclusion? And how can we model the truth that inclusion will only come if we are all included – and that means we include the other “ camp “. That’s what inclusion means.
Being Jewish, this week I’m studying the portion of the Torah that begins the conflict between Sarah and Hagar. And isn’t the outcome that both women fully find their power by encountering God by fully embracing who they are and finding out that there’s enough room on this beautiful earth for everyone and everything if we make room for each one of us to worship our God.
Our path right now in this most difficult of times is to find our way to be passionate activists for truth and justice and equality without falling back into the hatred and retaliation and carelessness that has led us to where we are. In that new consciousness, in that new vision and view, true transformation is possible.
Join us in Beit Jala in January to explore this new activism and vision!