There is a spiritual state capable of feeling gratitude for the person recently elected to lead our country. I’m not there yet.
However, after two months of anguish and confusion, I am beginning to appreciate the chaos this election has created. Watching the great pain, fear and anger that prompted such an unlikely election has opened my eyes about how people react when they feel rejected and neglected.
Watching the newly-empowered making plans to dismember the social net we have pieced together over the past 80 years has made me more aware of the millions of hungry, homeless, jobless, elderly, sick and/or disenfranchised neighbors among us. In countries where this has happened before, people have learned to take care of each other when they couldn’t depend on their own governments. This may be where we’re headed.
Watching hatred flare unchecked has reminded me that we have yet to live up to the grand experiment that began when our country was formed. We were to be diversity in action. We were to be freedom and equality for ALL. We were to be a people who respected life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … not just for rich, white, male, straight, land owners, but for all people.
We cannot wait for government to act in accordance with these principles; we must each live these values every day and with every person we connect with, regardless of political persuasion, color, religion, gender, or non-violent life-style preferences.
Kindness is a political stance.
Individually, we must be the government we want, and perhaps kindness is one value that might bring us together, at least we, the ordinary people trying to raise our families and do the best we can to be good, solid citizens. We’ve fallen far short of our original vision and, unfortunately, it has taken a badly flawed human appearing at exactly the right moment, to wake us up. Now that we are awake, it’s time to recognize that kindness is a political stance.
Gratitude is a form of activism.
At times I want to rail at the misinformation, fight the hatred and bigotry, become a warrior for peace. And then, I realize that railing, fighting and warring is not part of a peaceful life. Finding gratitude for the chaos of these days reminds me that appreciation for all that we have is the way forward. We need to honor and celebrate every moment, every action of love, compassion, trust, and kindness, reminding ourselves that, basically, we are a kind, generous people. We’ve just forgotten who we are and gratitude helps us remember.
Almost everyone I talk to is trying to figure out what to do in this chaotic time. That wave of concern and activism is something to be grateful for. This is our country. Perhaps we have delegated too much of it to our government … or assumed too much. Perhaps the time has passed when we could assume our elected officials were citizen statesmen interested in the well-being of the nation.
So, what do we do now?
Every time we express our gratitude for the incredible gift of living in this country, we are actively fighting the mindset that this country needs to be made great again by closing the doors to all but the already rich and privileged. This country has flaws almost as big as its beautiful geography, however, as long as we are a democracy and revere a constitution created by wise people who knew that it would need to be revised and renewed over time, we have hope of moving toward a more perfect union.
I believe each of us who have benefited from being a citizen of this prosperous, democratic country needs to decide what we can and will do to insure its future and the well-being of our neighbors.
For myself, I’ve decided that my call is not to political activism. However, I will speak up against bigotry and hatred. I will advocate for kindness and fairness. I will use my words and my financial resources to support the founding ideals of our country and the rights and well-being of every woman, child and man and for this planet we call home.
I will remember that kindness and gratitude can make us whole again. The Dalai Lama said "My religion is kindness.” If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.