I used to believe America was the most enlightened country in the world, not because of some particular and intrinsic exceptionalism, but because as a melting pot it represents the best of all humanity. Granted, my perceptions were likely slanted while living in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years, one of the most progressive and inclusive parts of the country and an epicenter of spirituality and consciousness.
But, if we are going to go with this melting pot theory, by extension it would also mean that America also represents the worst in humanity. It’s hard to reconcile the level of hatred that has been unleashed in this country in the last couple of years. While it is tempting and convenient to blame it on Trump for giving it voice and making it acceptable, the deeper, sadder truth is that in order for it to be unleashed, it had to be there in the first place. Regardless of what percentage of the votes Russia may have hacked or influenced, enough Americans still voted for the hatred, separation, vulgarity, racism, misogyny and xenophobia that he channeled.
My business adviser recommends that I avoid politics, out of concern that a certain number of people whose lives could be helped by my work may be turned off. I get that. And yet, there are times when silence becomes complicity.
What can I possibly say that might be remotely helpful at this surreal time when the forces of totalitarianism, fear, and hatred seem to be on the rise not only in America, but in the world? Our planet is currently hostage to the rants and posturing of two child/men overcompensating for their shortcomings and feelings of inadequacy, each with the ability to spark a nuclear Armageddon.
Though part of me occasionally flirts with the thought: “Beam me up, Scotty! Give me another assignment,” I believe that love will have the final word, that there are far more good people in the worldthan those who are caught in the web of fear that manifests as hatred. When a solution seems too overwhelming or impossible, I always bring myself back to what can I do? The answer is always: Continue to wake myself up and inspire as many others as possible do the same.
Toward that end, it’s important for us to remember the spiritual teachings that: if it’s there it’s here. Where is the fear showing up in me, the lack of acceptance, black and white thinking? The self-righteousness? The tendency to “otherize?” For many of us it’s easy to otherize Trump and the alt-right, racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist and homophobic neo-Nazis he has empowered: “I would never be that way!” Yet, are we committing acts of spiritual violence by the way we treat others, or ourselves? Gandhi said that to give up on our adversaries is an act of spiritual violence. Where are we giving up, selling out, settling? Living this way is difficult; sometimes it feels impossible. It’s nothing less than heroic.
Today I derive inspiration from the words of Diana Prince ( Wonder Woman, 2017): “I used to want to save the world, to end war, and bring peace to mankind, but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light and learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves, something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So I stay. I fight and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. And forever.”
(Darkness & Light, Original Artwork above by Don Langworthy)