I am hesitant to admit that I am not a great American by political and cultural standards. I have not exercised my American right to vote in most of the federal, state and local elections I could have. I don’t watch the news. I don’t read the paper. I don’t buy into the whole American consumerist culture. And I don’t identify with either of the major political parties.
But when I saw the headline that Ted Cruz had pulled out of the Republican GOP leaving Donald Trump the almost-certain winner of the Republican nomination, my stomach dropped and my chest constricted. For a reason I can’t exactly pinpoint, my body was sending me a very clear message.
Donald Trump’s candidacy scares the shit out of me.
If I had to choose a political side, I’m sure it would be easy to sweep me over to the left with the more liberal of the hippie democrats. And I’d be okay with that to a certain extent.
Except that I’m not okay with that. Because I’m not a democrat.
I’m an idealist. And a believer. And a little bit of a sentimentalist when it comes to this country of mine.
And I’m feeling like we’re at this huge pivot point where things could go terribly, terribly wrong.
Maybe I’ve watched too much House of Cards on Netflix, but I don’t feel proud or inspired when I think about our government. I don’t get butterflies of excitement in my stomach thinking about meeting the President or dream of one day shaking hands with my senator.
I feel confused. And a little jaded. And I’m thinking maybe I’m not the only one.
When I saw the headline about Cruz (on a newspaper stand in a gas station), I was traveling across the country with my 3-year-old daughter and my husband pulling the small trailer that houses all our worldly possessions.
We’re a full-time slow-traveling family, which in essence means that we don’t own a home, don’t have a home-base to speak of and that we basically travel around the country renting fully-furnished places for a few months at a time. We are frequenters of the postal service’s change of address form, and ol’ Uncle Sam had many a-hoops for our family at tax time.
We’re different. Our lives don’t look like most people’s, and even though many of those we meet along the road give us loads of encouragement, we’ve heard our fair share of dissent (some of it a little too close to home), and it all always seems to boil down to fear.
Granted, people aren’t spitting on us or marginalizing our humanity because of our lifestyle choice, but it has certainly affected some of the relationships in our lives. And it’s taught me a lot about all the ways fear lurks in the crevices of our minds.
We fear what we don’t understand. And then we have a choice to look at that fear in the light of love or feed it in darkness. When we feed it, it tends to grow until we feel compelled to push away whatever or whoever we think created it.
In this election fear has looked like a room full of people at a political rally booing and screaming at a woman just because the color of her skin is similar to someone’s they’ve been taught to hate. It has been racist slurs and bigoted remarks in the name of national security. It has been meanness and callousness and ugliness.
Fear is an energy. And while I may not know much about politics, I know quite a bit about energy.
Energy is who and what we all are. It is the nonphysical “stuff” that courses through us and from us when we feel and think and believe. It is the residue of our humanity that barrels through the cosmos either attracting or repelling certain people, places and experiences. Energy is neither republican or democrat. It just is.
It is what fuels political supporters and what gets people revved up to vote or fight.
When I got back in the car after reading the headline about Cruz, I admitted my fear to my husband in this exasperated, defeated sort of way.
He paused and said, “We have to stay in the energy of love. We have to remember to stay in that feel-good place about all this no matter which way it goes.”
Of course. Love. Because love is an energy too, and it happens to be a greater energy than fear.
In this political climate love is trusting the outcome while also not judging those who resonate with the fearful messages. It is acknowledging that there is always another perspective. Love is staying present.
If I have learned anything at all in the last few years of entrenching myself in the study and practice of daily meditation, it is that life is the real meditation. The time we spend in the silent stillness is the practice round for when our eyes are open and our bodies are in motion.
What we see outside of ourselves as wrong is actually a reflection of something we’re judging from within our own walls. And the answer to contraction is always expansion. Love the fear. Smother it with kisses and hugs and sweet soothing words.
Love the man who scares the shit out of you. And love yourself through the fear.
It keeps coming back to that again and again. We as individuals are the real solution for the problems we see with the collective. We cannot change a world without first changing ourselves.
And The Donald isn’t the problem. The change begins with me.