Love and tolerance in the face of oppression

It’s been four days since the election and it’s finally sinking in. All of the changes I need to make, all of the action I need to take, and how tragic this really is not only for my country, but for my family. Relationships with people I love have been forever changed by this. This election was about so much more than the economy, than politics. Yes, the stock market is up 60 points. I don’t give a shit. Not when a gay student on campus has his car spray painted with the word “faggot” a day after the election results, not when all of the spiders in our society start crawling out from beneath their rocks thinking they have a free pass for hate crime. Do you know why they think they have a free pass? Because 60 million American people gave them one. 60 million American people expressed with their votes for Trump that they will look the other way when they see racism, sexism, hatred, and discrimination. They expressed with their votes for Trump that the economy, and their finances, and our broken political system are more important than human decency. And many (but not all) of them expressed with their votes their hatred for people who differ from them.

I have done a lot of work around forgiveness during my life. Through my recovery, I have learned that carrying resentment is fatal to me. We have a process in recovery for identifying our resentments, analyzing what they stem from, how they affect us, and most importantly, what part of them we need to own. So I’m looking closely at this. My part is that I have allowed myself to live inside a bubble. Shielding myself from reality, because I guess it was just too painful to watch. I don’t like feeling anger. It’s uncomfortable, and so I unfollow Facebook friends when they post right wing bullshit that makes me angry. I am responsible for that. I have sat silently while injustice is happening around me, because I don’t like confrontation. It’s uncomfortable. I am responsible for that.

We all have a set of core values that guide our decisions in life. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and many others…..people with great influence in our society stand opposed to all of my core values. Support for these people stands opposed to all of my core values. This is not just about how I think our country’s money should be spent. I’m talking about the core values that guide my decisions in life, that make me who I am. My instinct in reaction to the people and policies that stand opposed to my core values is one of abhorrence. And that feels really uncomfortable. It keeps me up at night. I experience physical anxiety over it. And I’m pretty sure the only way through it is acceptance and forgiveness. Not revenge. Not discriminating against Trump supporters. Revenge is not justice.

My spiritual views are always evolving and they’re often not clear, but a muddled collection of ideas I don’t fully understand. One thing that is clear and always will be, is that we are all connected. We are all part of the same universal energy. We are all from the same source. Even the Trump supporters. Even the bigots. Even Donald Trump himself. I believe these people and their policies and beliefs and fears are the broken parts of our collective. Broken does not necessarily mean good or bad. There is no judgement, it just means broken. Usually where things are spiritually broken, there is spiritual pain. There are parts within us all that are broken. And my job now is to find those broken parts of myself and heal them. And what I have learned, again through my recovery, is that the way I heal them is through action. I have to find the capacity within myself to accept and forgive. To not stand in judgement of those broken pieces. I have to choose love and tolerance. I have to find within me compassion for those in pain. And when I do, when I identify and heal these broken parts of myself, I’m helping to heal the collective.

Healing myself will help, but it is not enough. I will no longer sit silently when I see injustice. If I see sexism, I’m calling it out. If I see racism, I’m calling it out. When I see hatred or discrimination of any kind, I’m calling it out. If we do not make visible these broken parts of our collective, they cannot heal.

We will survive this presidency. We have, as a nation, survived worse. It’s going to be painful, and our hearts are going to continue to feel broken every time we see in the news another hate crime spurred by the outcome of this election. But we will survive. And I have tremendous faith that the world is changing. This election has brought out and shined a light on all of the fear around this change, but fearing the change will not stop it.  It is already in motion. And it is too powerful to be persuaded by fear. Just ask the millennials. I have faith that this election has been the last gasp of a generation that is terrified of change. Is terrified to lose the privilege it doesn’t even consciously realize it has.  

I went to my first protest today and it was deeply moving.  There were hundreds of people peacefully gathered in Friendship Square in downtown Moscow. People took turns speaking to the crowd. People stood up and said I love you. No matter who you are, no matter your sexual preference, the color of your skin, your gender, or your immigration status. I love you and I will stand with you in the face of oppression. On my way back to my car after the protest, carrying my Love trumps Hate sign, a truck full of Trump supporters yelled at me “Go Trump, Fuck you”. This was a test for me. And one I feel I passed. Instead of yelling back at them, which was my first instinct, I was able to pause. I practiced restraint of tongue. I reached within myself to find compassion for them. After all, it has to be painful for them to carry that much hatred.

The biggest challenge for me right now is that I have to somehow find a way to stand up to oppression without standing in judgement of the oppressor. I do not know how to do this. As soon as I figure it out, I will let you know! Until then, may the force be with you.