8 people are dead in my hometown today. Another act of senseless violence, a hate crime against those attending synagogue. In the wake of this, there will be sadness, anger, disbelief and mourning. There will also be more fighting. More division. More digging trenches, drawing lines in the sand and blaming someone else. More - if only the other side would do "X" differently.
I'll admit, I've already sent my husband two texts this morning with the incredulous tone of "can you believe he said this?" But this attitude changes nothing. The tribalism is not stopping the bloodshed. We have to do something else.
One solution is to vote, but we can no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to save us. We can't keep flopping back and forth from one political party to the other, and undoing everything that the past party put into place. This doesn't move us forward, it keeps us stuck in the mud. Back to square one, again.
What's required here is a radical shift in perspective, from every single one of us. It's no longer ok to point fingers and say, "If only they would change." Because no one is changing, only hunkering further down into their own barracks.
And here's the thing most people don't realize. That evil "other side," - they are just as scared as you are. All of this fear, all of this False Evidence Appearing Real, is making people do crazy things that take lives and change humanity forever.
Jeff Flake said during the confirmation hearings that "there is no value in reaching across the table anymore." He may be right from a political perspective, but we are not politicians. I believe reaching across the table is the only thing that will save us. Angry rhetoric met with angry rhetoric just causes more fear and pushes unstable people towards the edge.
Are you embodying the kind of world you would like to live in, or just pointing your angry finger at someone else, waiting for them to change? Are you able to admit that you turn a blind eye to some of the things your political party says, that go against what you believe is in the best interest of humanity? Are you willing to question your own beliefs and your own party? Are you willing to call yourself on it and call your own side out, when they go too far and you know in your heart that it's hypocritical and against your very moral fiber? Or will you just keep making excuses, towing the party line? Are you willing to have a conversation, instead of just an angry shouting match, with someone who has a different belief than you? From the point of view of hearing each other, not trying to convert or defend?
Most of America, on both sides, is sitting in their homes, shaking their heads, and asking, "What happened to my country?" We can no longer wait for someone to fix this. The world is holding up a mirror to us to look at our own actions.
Here are some questions we can all ask ourselves on a daily basis. Am I speaking kindly, or are my words as venomous as the person I hate? Is what I'm doing causing more division? Is my hatred for the other side creating more of what I want, or less? What have I done today to reach out and stop the hate?
If we cannot look at our own actions, adjust, and reach out to the other side to make things better, than we are surely lost. Our children are watching, and imitating us. If we don't change our direction, the fear will be 10 times worse by the time they grow up. Are you embodying the kind of world you want them to live in?
It's time to stop pointing fingers, reach a hand across the table, and act. If we continue down this path of us vs them, no one wins. And the next generation is the biggest loser of all.
A dear friend of mine just posted on Facebook, asking what to tell her 11 yr old daughter about the Senate confirmation hearings. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, as I watch many women I know struggle through their own remembering. I began to cry as I talked to a friend today, sensing her pain and the collective pain of what other women are going through.
And then I thought of my 3 sweet boys, and as the mom of boys I worry for them too. I worry about them growing up with the message that men are, at best, insensitive assholes, and at worst, sexual predators. That though they didn’t create the “old boys club,” they won’t have the support they need as they mature into men. Well, they will have me and their dad to support them, but I think about all the young men out there trying to find their way through all of this who have no one to guide them. We are constantly empowering our girls, and rightly so, and yet we can’t shove our boys to the curb and write them off because past generations of men (some men) have been insensitive.
So I sit here trying to find the positive in all this pain, grasping to remember the shared humanity of Republican and Democrat, male and female, dark and light. As I wrestle with all of this, this is what I told my friend I would say to her daughter.
“Like Mr Rogers said, look for the helpers. There are always helpers. There are always good, decent people of every race, gender, sexuality and political party. And there will always be those who abuse power, who don’t treat each other right, and who seem evil to the core. Those people are the most broken and the most afraid. We can’t let our fear make us like them. Because at the very heart of all of this, no matter whether you are Republican or Democrat, black or white, male or female - we all want the same things. We want to feel safe. We want to be heard. We want to feel like we matter. We just have different ways of going about it. Now you get to see what that looks like and decide what kind of person you want to be, and how you want to help others. Most importantly, you get to decide whether you want to come from a place of love or fear. Because love always wins. And helpers aren’t afraid to stand up and fight when they need to, but also build bridges instead of walls when they need to.”
As Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
I believe if we want to turn the tide and change what’s going on, we have to build bridges instead of walls. We have to work together instead of alienating the other side of any issue. When we turn it into “us vs them” and continue to build our walls of defensiveness even higher, there are no winners. And the next generation is the biggest loser of all.
I facilitated a generational healing workshop at the Mom’s On Fire Retreat yesterday. It was beautiful to see so many courageous women showing up to break the ancestral chains that keep history repeating itself, to create a better life for themselves and the generations that follow.
As I walked through the hotel this morning on my way out to meditate, I thought, “What do I do next?” This has been my biggest struggle as a business owner. Instead of staying in the present moment, I’m always in the future trying to stay one step ahead.
Looking back, I’ve spent most of the last 3 years living in the past. Thinking about how my life was supposed to be and what I had “lost.”
I’ve been practicing mindfulness for 6 years, but sometimes you don’t “get it til you get it.” I’m finally consistently aware of how much anxiety, depression, and lack of satisfaction I cause myself when I’m not present to what is going on right now.
For example, I’m aware I need to put the phone down and enjoy this beautiful sunrise.
And the question I’m asking as I go into meditation is this - “What do I need to know now.”
Be here now. Be well.