I’m taking Sylvia Boorstein’s online class that spans the year, “Mindfulness in Everyday Life.“ On a conference call in April, a woman asked her for advice on how to navigate the disturbing reality of life now in the United States with our sitting president. It comes up again and again in the meditation communities I’m a part of. I’m luckier than many in this, I think, in that I only read the newspaper. I imagine it’s easier than watching TV news. I can glance at headlines, skim stories, put the paper down when the clenching in my belly tells me to. I can look at still photographs of him, appalled by the ugly twist of his lips. It’s not as unsettling as listening to him “live.” When the question comes up in the conference call, I want to say what I believe is true. I can’t remember now if there was just not enough time left to raise my hand and speak, or if I hesitated, held myself back. Was I just self-conscious? Or did I convince myself what I wanted to say was too obvious? What I wanted to say is we have to have faith. Buddhists don’t work with that concept much. I think it’s because Buddhism is not something we need to take on faith. The Buddha didn’t expect that. He told us to try things out, to see for ourselves. So it makes sense to me that Buddhists may have more trouble in a time like this, a time when we are “forced” to watch an overweight, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic white man try to dismantle all the good that’s been put into place in recent years. Faith may not be an ordinary part of the equation, but we need it now. We need to believe the times we’re living in are a reaction to all the good progress we’ve made around the world. We need to believe this is the “getting worse” part before things get better. We need to believe this is not the beginning of the end, only the last-ditch effort to roll things back before we move together even more fully into the kind of world we want to live in always.
Belief may help us to act to improve the situation.
I hope this is true, Bumba. I have been putting out some of my own feelers for a way to add my own response but haven’t found my way in that yet. Your note makes me remember we do indeed need to act. ;-)
And thanks so much for continuing to read my blog and for commenting here! Such a gift to me, always.
We are fighting our own battles Riba, and I do believe. But I also believe that it will get far, far worse – for us at least – before things can begin to get better. And I worry about how many will be hurt.
Me, too, Madhu. And you remind me that I don’t mean to be blithe about this. I am very afraid of what might still come, and I might even be too much denying how much worse it might get, how many more people will die. I try to “hold my fear with kindness,” though, and turn toward the hopes for nonviolent resistance holding sway sooner rather than later. (I know how naive this might sound even as I write it. But it’s the only way I know to not stay in the fear, and “denial” or not, I don’t want to live there.)
I know only a little about what is happening in your country, but I do know what we are talking about is global and determines the outcome of our world in a very literal way. I’ve always been afraid of having to die in this. But now I am dreaming of living my way through it somehow. :)
(I just saw all your “likes,” Madhu! Made my heart lift. You are such a dear.)