Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Time for Healing, Time for Transformation

Sunrise over Greenlake in Seattle, WA

When we are hurt, we look for someone or something to blame. “Third party voters, I will never forgive you.” “Not even all women voted for Hillary. How can you be a self-respecting woman and vote for Trump?” “If you didn’t vote, you are responsible for this.”

And we are hurt. A lot of us are hurt. While Obama faced many challenges in his time, and continues to face them with the intense divisiveness of the people who are serving in our government, an agenda of inclusiveness and hope was being pushed forward. 

We saw movement towards:
  • plans to curb carbon emissions and invest in green energy for the sake of the future of ourselves, our children, and our planet
  • important conversations about racism and privilege 
  • work towards equal pay for equal work and equality of women
  • responsible gun safety laws
  • international dialogue
  • access to basic healthcare for all 
  • more jobs
  • caring for the people who are most marginalized in our world
While there were pieces that did not line up with this, for the most part, these are the movements I noticed and drew strength from. The words and actions of Pope Francis infiltrating our culture and society helped my belief.

The election of Trump to our highest office shatters my perception that this is where we were going as a country. That compassion and love win. 

And yes, I am hurting. I hurt for and with people of color, people who have immigrated here, and the people who were here long before any white people came, people who do not fix our box of “able-bodied” or “able-minded,” the LGTBQ+ community, for our Earth, for people who live in other countries and will have to deal with the international repercussions of someone who has asked about the nuclear code and takes high offense to slight remarks, for people who are Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, and any other religion than Christian, for all people on the margins.  I hurt for all of us who have decided we will dedicate our lives to building a more just system. This vote seems to reinforce in a much stronger way the reality you have to live every day - people implying and outright saying that you do not matter, and that you will not be respected.  

I also know that suffering not transformed is transmitted. 

And clearly, a lot of people in our country have felt they have not been seen by the people in power, and also have felt hurt by that. Their vote proves that. However, this vote happens at the expense of telling all “other” people that they are now not seen either. 

This could escalate into an even more intense game of back and forth. History has shown how this works. Genocides happen when a disenfranchised group of people gain power over previously perceived oppressors. In hurt, they point their finger, saying, “YOU are responsible,” and then taking a step farther and saying, “YOU will pay.”
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

This is a time when we have a choice. We can either point fingers at each other, blaming, and continuing this cycle of harm, or we can point all of our fingers collectively at the system. Both are an active choice.

Our systems of government and our economy have left people behind. People that fall into both groups above. The systems have made it more beneficial to forge ahead without listening to others, without inviting everyone to the table; instead putting money and reward and ego ahead of building a holistic community. 

Can we first of all, take time to acknowledge our pain, acknowledge our hurt, and then transform it into energy to change the system? 

This is a moment in history when we can have the momentum to make a difference. We may not know what that looks like yet, all I know is that if we can gather together for the common good and work for a place at the table for everyone, that we can make a difference. Despite this, I still believe that everyone matters. I still believe that compassion and love can win. We just have to practice and live it ourselves, reaching out in love as far as we can reach.

I promise to do this, and I will start in little ways - allow myself to acknowledge the pain, be gentle as we heal, then build spaces for authentic encounter and dialogue with people I perceive as "other," assume goodwill, hold myself accountable to language and inclusivity, be kind, take time to listen and reflect, and to see what grows, what is transformed, and what becomes possible.

I’m in. Will you join me?

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