Now that the event many of us have been fearing for the last six months has come to pass, we can waste our energy being indignant or we can hear it as the wake-up call we have been ignoring for a generation or more…and wake up.
As a country (if we are to continue as a country) we will need to repent. We will need to acknowledge our own collusion in this present moment, and repent of the broken and self-serving choices that have brought us here, because as much as we would like to have someone else to blame, we are all guilty. We have all participated in the decisions and attitudes that have brought us to the edge of this abyss.
And make no mistake. It is an abyss.
We must begin to form cells of resistance, but I will not try to sugarcoat the reality: the first and hardest resistance we need to practice is the resistance to our own laziness and apathy…and the last and hardest resistance we need to practice is the resistance to our own laziness and apathy. And between first and last, we will need to practice resistance to our own laziness and apathy and the self-righteousness that takes the place of real action.
There is no ‘them’; there is only us. We will solve nothing by waiting for the people around us to change and to wake up to our preferred (and illusory) reality. We must begin to heal the designed blindness that has kept our lives relatively comfortable and apparently stable while the sand has been slowly washing out to sea from under our feet.
The truth is that what benefits the least among us, benefits all of us. The man whose teaching I fondly believe I am following, tried firmly and consistently to teach us that. And he died because even those who knew him best continued to live with their own personal self-interest first and foremost. He told us that it doesn’t work that way…and it is past time for me to listen to him and be a disciple, not merely talk about discipleship.
I/We have encouraged all kinds of inequity (and baffled resentment and anger and fear) by marching through our daily lives, head down, eyes riveted to our cell phones, thinking we are responsible only for ourselves and our immediate dependents. We are quite content to allow others the ‘freedom’ to pull themselves up by their bootstraps to join us, of course, and will – with the best intentions in the world – offer some paltry percentage of our abundance to ‘help’ so that we can tick it off our list and get back to our own wants and needs. That is not what Jesus meant by the kin-dom of G-d.
Democracy depends (and has always depended) on an educated populace. It depends (and has always depended) on a populace that realizes its interdependent status and accepts that we are stronger and wiser and more effective together. It depends (and has always depended) on an equitable sharing of resources so that we do not build hunger and anger and homelessness and ignorance into the system.
From where we stand today, there are no quick fixes. There never were. It is going to be a long, slow, steep, painful road out of this very dead dead end. There will be detours and the rebuilding of infrastructure. But every day we put it off insures the problems will only grow less manageable. The old Yankee adage, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is as applicable to human relationships and political systems as it is to pants hems.
No, this is not the outcome for which I hoped and worked and prayed. But the choice facing all of us is how we respond to the outcome we got. And we got it. The majority of those who voted in enough states to tip the electoral college, believe that this will make things better. (That may not be the majority of people in the country, but the people who chose not to vote, accepted that this could be the outcome.) I suspect that in the short-term, those who enthusiastically chose this path will be sadly disappointed and, therefore, even angrier. And we will all need to deal with that.
But the fact is that like the church-going, but (ultimately) faithless Christians of the Third Reich, I have stood by – largely silent – while public education was eviscerated, while the police were militarized, while effective health care was reserved for the wealthy, while our young women and men were sent to die in our name and then left to suffer in our disregard, while sexual assault was treated like a dirty secret, and racism crept out from under the carpet where we had swept it, while anger, divisiveness and disrespect were accepted as the norm, and where national legislators have insured that they are largely above the law of the land.
This is not the world I desire, but perhaps it is the world for which I was (for which we were) born. It is the world in which I am alive; therefore, it is the only one I get to try to transform.
So, speaking personally, I cannot afford to be either angry or despairing. I am going to take a few days to grieve deeply for my country, her citizens, and all those who live within her borders. And then I need to take the long view and accept that I can no longer ‘not see’ what I see. I need to start forward with whoever is willing to join me, discovering other small groups here and there, listening, learning, working together to heal and reshape our nation within the context of a global community, so that my grandchildren (G-d willing) can blossom in a world of grace and beauty and respect and compassion and peace and hope.
Yes, we can.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015, 2016 Immram Chara, LLC