It has been more than two months since Nov. 8th. I continue thinking (in vain) that with the passage of time, and hopefully with the development of additional understanding based upon actual events, some of the extreme distress that this election has led to would begin to decrease. As those who listen at all to those who continue to be deeply concerned about what may happen know, this is not yet the case.
And, here I must have the courage to also say, almost at the same time, that our mutual failure in listening to each other continues. Mostly.
Those who are gleeful about this election, do not apparently share the legitimate, grave concerns of the 20,000,000 people who may lose their access to health care. But, then on the other hand; while we know now with at least some certainty, that a long-standing failure to listen compassionately to the legitimate economic and status concerns of white men who lack a college education, is NOT being overtly addressed by those who are terrified at the election results.
So, that leaves us in the same place –“Now what?” and continuing to seek those meaningful responses.
I keep thinking that before too long we will come across a plateau, as though we had made our way to a high prairie where clear vision is possible.
So far, that is not the case. I still feel that I am on high alert, and looking awkwardly in both directions, to the past and to the future, yet having no clarity about which direction to go, nor how to figure that out.
Perhaps it is the waiting for the many other shoes to drop, now that one very large and potentially dangerous shoe has fallen? However, the events so far, do not, for me at least, provide much that will clarify or calm those questions, but rather, serve mostly to intensify them.
There are a few things that may help. These “things” are found in the testimonies of some of those nominated for the cabinet. And, I find some help in those who are able to have bridge conversations with “the other side”. So far, they are still very small and not yet attached to attached to substantive events.
So, the question moves on to, “How do we, who are citizens of a DIVERSE yet still united nation, wait in meaningful ways that keep us moving forward with as much compassion and mutuality as possible?
For now, I am going to follow the lead offered by my not-yet 2 yr old Granddaughter, Charlotte. I am going to do my very best to stand still and pay attention to what I see and try to make sense out of it.
I am going to take the time, to stand thoughtfully and look …
or sit on a bench to think, (as Sarah and Duck do).
at what is initially very strange to me. (And, if I am honest, white men without a college education are not familiar to me. I don’t know them well, perhaps not at all. Nor do I understand their concerns, experiences, or worldview.)
And, if at first, I am afraid of butterflies because I don’t know what they are or what they might do to me, I will acknowledge my fear. (I will lament.) But, I will also stay put long enough to find out more about butterflies, and white men without a college education, etc.
And, once I find out that butterflies are not dangerous, then, and only then, will I change my mind. (And, I will try to do the same with those I do not know or understand.)
“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” ― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
These approaches, stopping to stand still and look, or sitting on a bench to think, are forms of prayer. Simone Weil’s definition of prayer as”paying attention” expands the notion of prayer from some kind of human -divine Q & A, into more of a long-term mutual relationship of presence and witness.
Thus, for now, I am going to try to learn from this child how to make sense of a world that seems almost unrecognizable.