I am sick to my stomach with shame at what my country is doing.
Maybe you are too, but don’t pocket your outrage thinking “Come November, we’re going to cast our ballots for a better America, and it’s gonna be a whole new ballgame.” That’s not near enough, and it’s not a guarantee by a long shot. We need more. We need your all. We need every form of muscle right now — financial, political, artistic, clerical, organizational, spiritual. Everything.
Anything you can do, do it. I’ve donated to RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) and you can, too, if you’re looking for more than just your next vote in the coming election. Call your representatives. Call your senators. (Btw, I’ve learned that calling is way more effective than writing.) Or show up to their offices, like these mothers did. Ask questions. Make signs, take to the streets, and march.
Maybe we need to start another revolution, I don’t know. (I just glanced nervously out my window to see if they’re coming for me, just for typing that…)
Rachel Maddow says that they want this. We are being manipulated all the time. But this has always been true, even during other administrations. The media by its very nature is an instrument of manipulation. What can we do about that? Nothing. It’s part of life in the modern world.
But there is something we can do. Something more effective and life changing than anything else. We can use all of this turmoil to strengthen our resolve to become fully awakened.
When there’s strong emotion present, it’s our first clue that we’ve fallen asleep to the present moment. Becoming fully awakened isn’t going to happen overnight. We have to train our minds. We have to build up habits, skills for not being duped by our own monkey mind. It starts with using strong emotion as a mindfulness bell. Resolving to breathe, feel our feet on the ground, and come back to the body.
Here’s how I did it, using my response to this national disgrace:
- I read in the paper about the “tender age” detainment centers. (Outrage, from the belly up.)
- My kneejerk response is to search youtube for my best allies to tell me more. Rachel Maddow, for instance. Oh my God. And now I’m really sinking. Flailing, falling, down, down, down the black hole of “I have to do something / It’s too big, nothing can be done”. I end up depressed, sour, unable to enjoy anything now. I am deep, deep asleep.
- I can’t do anyone any good if I’m being dragged around by the scruff of the neck, either blinded by outrage or paralyzed by depression.When I notice how terrible I feel, I try to take my own advice. I return to my breath, notice the quality of air I’m breathing. I feel the chair underneath me. I’m grateful for my home. I taste my food. I hear the cardinals calling outside. And when I calm down in this way, it opens everything up. My peripheral vision improves. My focus improves. I have greater stability and perspective.
- In this new state, I have the freedom and capacity to strategize about what I will do about relieving the suffering that has come to my attention. I learn about raices.org and I donate what I can. I consider participating in upcoming protests. I contact my representatives, my senators. I sit down to write what you’re reading right now. I continue with a steady mind and heart, while I let other ideas bubble up about what my involvement might look like.
- And then I pray. I pray not only for the countless mothers, fathers, and children suffering because of this heinous policy. I pray also for Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and others who have staunchly defended it, praying for their awakening, for their hearts to break open, for them to come home to their true nature of love, compassion and wisdom.
- And then it dawns on me to pray also for the employees of ICE, or border patrol, etc.— people who can’t possibly enjoy the act of tearing a screaming child away from her screaming mother. Don’t tell me there’s anyone who loves doing this. They have to be conflicted. But even for those who enjoy this terrible job, I pray for them all, that they might awaken as well. That they find ways to subvert the horror of this activity. That they might use their insider positions to document what’s going on, maybe keep track of where children are going and who they belong to so they can be reunited when the time comes. That they summon the courage to resist with conviction, either openly or covertly. Maybe this is happening. Maybe it’s not. But my prayers are out there for it.
My prayers are out there,
winging hard on the winds of grief and disbelief,
slowly gaining altitude, calling, calling...
anguished prayers making their way toward the sun,
looking down on this mess of humanity that we’ve become,
and making a vow
never to give up on goodness
no matter how much is stacked against it,
no matter how eclipsed by chaos, evil, indifference,
no matter how dark it gets,
never ever giving up
on the goodness of the human heart.
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