This is a little later than usual (Sunday was my birthday and unusually crowded with things to do and people to see and the past three days have been remarkably busy). Not to mention that I’m not quite sure what to say. The past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions due to all sorts of things (the election, Arrival, some incredible people that I’ve spent a lot of time with, etc.) and I’m still trying to figure out how to process everything that has happened and is happening.
So, here we are.
The pain has dulled some, but seeing posts from friends and others on Facebook that express the pain and suffering that may not be as present in my day to day life brings that pain and fear back.
Still, I have been reminded repeatedly that I am surrounded by thoughtful, loving, kind, beautiful people that care for each other and want to make the world a stronger, better, kinder, more loving place. This gives me hope. (While reminding me of the bubble that I inhabit and the dangers of not engaging with people that think radically differently than me.)
Some words from Tolkien that I think are appropriate given the circumstances (and I shared the night of the election on Facebook):
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
The times are here. Do I wish that I did not live in this nightmarish, clustercuss of a hellscape that I thought would come to an end on November 8th? Yeah. Yeah, I do.
But, there’s nothing I can do about that now. Now is the time to decide what to do given that we live in this nightmarish, clustercuss of a hellscape.
I think we need to do some seemingly paradoxical things. As a friend wrote on twitter (paraphrasing), when we are faced with such radical hate, we must respond with even more radical love. I believe that. I believe in a thing called love. Hate breeds hate breeds hate breeds hate breeds hate. To quote David Bowie and Queen:
“Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?”
While radically loving each other and perhaps especially those that disagree with us. Loving those that hate us. Loving those that want to destroy everything we stand for and believe. Loving our enemies. While doing that, we must not normalize or lose sight of the hurt and pain and suffering that has been, is being, and may continue to be caused by others. I believe we must understand and love the individuals, we must see them as humans, as gods and goddesses in waiting, but we cannot stand idly by while hate is preached.
I can denounce actions and words, but still extend understanding and compassion. I can refuse to stand by while friends live in fear, but can still offer my coat to those that may be perpetuating that fear. We must understand, so that we can confront our demons. This is a work that we cannot do alone.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure what this looks like in practice. It seems like a tough line to walk. Yet, it feels right to me. Perhaps I’m naïve and believe too much in the innate, unconquerable goodness of humanity. I am a humanist in many senses (a religious one, but I think Mormonism has some tenets that make it uniquely compatible with humanism, but that’s probably a post for another day). A quote from Joss Whedon (that I’ve shared before) is appropriate here:
“Faith in God means believing absolutely in something with no proof whatsoever. Faith in humanity means believing absolutely in something with a huge amount of proof to the contrary. We are the true believers.”
For some (read: me), the past little while has been piling up proof to the contrary. Yet, I continue to believe. I believe that we are better than hate. I believe that we are better than racism. I believe that we are better than sexism. I believe that we are better than xenophobia. I believe that we are better. I believe in us. I believe in love.
The same love that caused me to feel fear for people I care about and many others that I have never met, but whose pain I’ve seen/read/heard about as the election results came in convinces me to love even more radically. To keep loving those in need. Those on the margins. The fringes (as I like to refer to my realm in Mormonism). To do even more for them. But to also reach out to and love those who think differently. Those who feel like they are being pushed out. Those that voted for Trump.
I need to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, wherever they are found. I have neglected many who have been mourning and that neglect blinded me to their concerns, blinded me to how many see the world. I need to love those people that I have neglected, while not leaving behind those that are and may soon be experiencing great pain and suffering (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc.).
I can stand against injustice, while loving the unjust. I can stand against bigotry, while loving the bigot. I can stand against racism, while loving the racist.
I’m not calling for unity or concessions to hate. But I believe loving those that hate us or others is the only way to overcome. Love casteth out fear. Hate can never do that.
I may not be able to do much, but I can love. (And hey, love is all you need.)
P.S. Here are some more practical actions that you can take shared by a friend and former classmate of mine, who worked in Congressional offices for a considerable time (with their knowing consent…(sorry, I couldn’t help myself)).