I will start here, with where I am now, because, truly, it is the only way from which to begin anything: from where you are. I am home, working from home, with my kitten swatting at my feet, sounds of the neighborhood families going about their day, the new puppy across the street incessantly barking… The sun is shining; it’s another picture-perfect day here in Southern California. Or is it?
It’s like taking a look under someone’s bed to find the dust bunnies and detritus from years of forgotten, discarded possessions. Or it is like living in an abusive relationship, where each day brings a new layer of fear and frustration to which you can’t seem to fathom a way out. It is time to address the cliched elephant in the room.
Speaking of elephants, consider Donald Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico, the shocking apathy of government leaders in Rakhine region between Bangladesh and Burma, the grief-stricken communities in Mexico dealing with multiple natural disasters, the Las Vegas shooting and the stale, heartless rhetoric from NRA advocates, the dismantling of DACA or… shall I go on.
I am not the only one in my circle who is startled and a little anxious. Many, many people are commenting about the lack of leadership and heartlessness of the politicians and people in power.
As Trump put it, “hey, it could have been worse! What are you all complaining about? Only 16 people died! You should be proud!” As soon as someone says the world “should” my skin starts to crawl and a lump forms in my throat. Dr. Brene Brown says that when the word “should” pops up in our lives, it is because shame and blame have moved in. Shame and Blame are tool powerful tools often used by narcissists to project their own insecurities onto their victim in an attempt to trap them into staying, so as to feed the cycle of abuse.
Donald Trump is a narcissistic, abusive boyfriend that simply won’t go away. I know because I extricated myself from an abusive relationship six years ago. And I use that word, “extricate” to illustrate just how challenging it can be to get out of such a relationship. We as a nation have willingly (well, at least the Electoral College and some 63 million people) have chosen to enter into a relationship with this man and the rest of us and the world, quite frankly, are reluctant victims.
In the domestic violence world, the term survivor is used to describe those of us who have endured relentless violations of our basic human dignity. When I was in my relationship, what I remember most is the way that he would deflect my questions, denigrate my personhood, and conveniently avoid the truth. It was a paradoxical purgatory. I feel like the current condition is similar. I see deflection, projection and a crippling sense of bias fueling a reinforcing feedback loop of divisiveness.
From where I sit now, I can envision this going one of two ways. Before us lays a path with a choice, as old as time. And truth be told, we can never precisely know the outcome before we make our choice. Some may follow the logic, we made this bed therefore we must face the consequences of our actions. But we do have the right, ability and capability of making a course-correction.
It’s a monstrous machine now; the energy is in motion and it gives the appearance of permanence. But just as quickly as these things gain momentum, they can be shut down. Think of a merry-go-round. Sure, once it gets going it’s hard to stop, but there it can be stopped. Even preschoolers understand this truth. I believe with some conviction, that if the 65 million of us who didn’t vote for Donald Trump and the nearly 200 million who didn’t vote at all and the billions of people across the world who believe in love over hate and life over death and unification vs division, that we can turn this thing around. Here are some ideas:
- Grow your own food and advocate that the farms around you keep more food in your region instead of exporting it. Countless energy, water, social, economic, biological inputs go into growing food and nearly half of it is wasted. More energy and social, economic and environmental inputs go into transporting that food all over the world and yet nearly 1 in 7 remain food insecure. Stop the needless waste, feed the hungry, redistribute wealth among our local and regional farmers instead of wealth multi-national corporations, save the planet and ourselves. I know. I know. You are thinking, what does growing my own food have to do with global peace? Think about it. If we are all able to provide for ourselves, our families, our communities, our regions with the resources within our regions, we won’t really need to rely on the huge economic machine that runs the politicians, multi-national corporations and greedy people in power’s system of oppression. Self-resiliency equals freedom.
- Love above everything else. A wise woman who runs an amazing spiritual center recently commented on her vision for the congregation: to be love, to share love and the serve love. How strikingly different of an image comes to mind when I read this in comparison to when I hear Huckabee-Sanders say that this is not the time to discuss gun violence. It’s like two different worlds. Love is the only truth, the only power, the only anything that is really REAL. Everything else is a reaction to fear of unworthiness. If we chose to love above all else, we will not only save humanity from the brink of nuclear devastation, we will save the world and all the wonderful creatures in it.
- Stop sending prayers and get out there and do something dammit! I don’t care if it is just helping your elderly neighbor across the street or baking some cookies for the gas station attendant or sharing a smile with a stranger. Each little act of kindness has a reverberation effect that can literally reverse the current trajectory of pain and suffering we are in. I work for this amazing nonprofit, Food Forward, that simply collects the abundant produce that otherwise go to waste and gives it to those in need. Simple Solution. Boom! Done! Find your simple solution and do it. Put your smart phone down (after reading and sharing my post of course) and commit to one act of kindness today. And then every day. Don’t discount your actions. Do the math. If everyone of us who feels this sense of despair for current conditions choses to step up and be the proverbial change, we will change everything!
Three simple steps. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd, I just need three steps mister toward the door!