Anais Nin wrote that the possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.
I think we are living in a time of great mystery, half of us are completely befuddled by the other half, and don’t remember how to speak to each other.
“Lord,” prayed St. Francis, “make me an instrument of peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is an injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.”
I sometimes wonder where the spiritual people and their wonderful messages are these days. We love to evoke St. Francis, Pope Francis, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King.
They are all gone, and the corporate media has no use for spiritual people, they don’t hate enough and don’t argue loudly enough. Unless we dig out their books, we never hear their voices, certainly not on Fox News or CNN.
The spiritual people have been pushed to the margins of a nation obsessed with greed and power, spirituality sometimes feels like an empty vessel, often invoked, but rarely practiced. Why do we pretend to love these people so much, yet ignore them so easily?
Try as I might, I cannot escape having to deal with the American obsession with Donald Trump, and the movement people label Trumpism. It’s all around me, everywhere I go.
I live in a community of Donald Trump supporters and try as I might, there is no getting away with the preoccupation with him, with the hatred of him, with the love of him.
I am not about politics and hate the endless political Middle School name-calling and accusation, the new idea of contemporary politics I see all around me, and in our media.
What I feel personality is a deep crisis of spirituality, not a crisis of politics.
I see dealing with this well as a spiritual challenge for me, perhaps the greatest. How I deal with this challenge may well determine the nature of the rest of my life, and my long search for peace of mind.
I’m no good at hate, and I refuse to spend my life in argument and rage. I reject labels. Where does this put me in our fragmented and labeled world?
How do I maintain my spiritual sense of self in a time of escalating and overwhelming rhetoric, hate, and division? The spiritual life is loaded with questions, good answers are harder to come by.
My refusal to believe I have all of the answers puts me well outside of the mainstream. It’s sometimes a lonely place to be. I sometimes feel everyone is shouting, but I can’t open my mouth wide enough.
Last night, we had friends for dinner, and one of them said the problem was that elitists must stop branding supporters of the President as bigots and groupies. I thought that a good idea and said it would also be good if people would stop calling people like her uncaring elitists.
But there is no tit for tat, no yielding, no compromise, no giving.
Beyond all the names and labels are people, that’s why I feel so comfortable in my small town. These are all just people, mostly very good people. I don’t need to hate them, and I hope they have no need to hate me.
But how does that hatred and tension happen? Is it just politics or something deeper? I feel I need to understand that better before I can know how to respond to it.
Last week I had lunch with a friend who said almost all of the people he knows love the President. He doesn’t, but he has learned to simply not talk about politics anywhere outside of his home, a sad solution in a democracy.
The restaurant where we were having lunch was stuffed to the gills with Donald Trump supporters. Yet I could not be more welcome or comfortable there. At the moment of lunch, we were all quite united.
How is it we can get along so easily with one another face to face, yet the people who govern our country can’t seem to bear to even speak to one another. Is social media or the Internet? The death of faith? The loss of hope?
The Impeachment proceedings are another great and hateful wound in our world, you can reach out and touch it. I can’t turn on the radio anymore in the car, it’s always there.
They say it’s their civic duty to broadcast but it just feels like another viral infection to me.
I can’t tell anybody else what to do I, can only share what I have done and hope it might be useful. I seek a spiritual solution to what has become a deeply spiritual problem.
First, I refuse to hate anyone. And I never label anyone. It’s just another wall we built between one another.
Then, I decline to spend any significant portion of my time arguing.
Whenever I can, I ask people who differ with me to educate me, to tell me why they feel the way they feel, and why some feel so differently from me.
Here, I practice Active Listening, as I learned to do as a hospice volunteer. I’m not looking to fight with anyone or persuade anyone I want to put myself in their shoes, rather than condemn their shoes. I just want to listen.
I chose to give my life meaning, not by argument, suspicion or grievance, but by deed.
I choose to do good, every day of my life, in all kinds of weather, under all kinds of circumstances. Nothing has grounded me more or made me feel stronger and useful. That is my spiritual solution, it feels so much better than hate and resentment.
People who are unwanted feel wanted, people who are unloved seek love, people who are ignored or belittled feel resentful and abandoned. There’s nothing new about it, it’s really the oldest story on the plant.
My first newspaper editor told me on my first day of work that there is only one story in the world, and that is the rich screwing the poor, and the poor getting pissed off about it. I was soon to learn he was wise.
Mother Teresa, who has often criticized herself for being ruthless and rigid, caught the tenor or the time long before I did. She hit it right on the nose. Love brings people together, not an argument.
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for,” she wrote. “We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”
First, I am learning to love myself, and then I can learn to love others. I feel I am making progress.
“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends,” wrote the Poet Aberjhani.
I am daring to do that, I will cling to a spiritual response to the anger and fear swirling all around me. If we are to believe the much loved spiritual people in our history, love is what will prevail, this is what hope is.