The mid-term elections are over, and I feel like a week-old party balloon, still floating a few feet above the floor but lacking enough helium to bump exuberantly against the ceiling.
I’ve voted in sixteen presidential elections, dozens of gubernatorial and congressional elections and innumerable mayoral and local contests for county and citywide offices. Of them all I considered Tuesday’s vote the most important election of my lifetime. In my optimistic full-glass view I saw the blue wave wash away two years of malfeasance and vitriol.
Now the votes have been tabulated and realistically the wave has been downgraded to a groundswell, noticeable and tide altering, but clearly the bulwarks erected by the MAGA caps and tiki torch carriers have not been breached. Steve King, Congress’ shameless fascist and California’s indicted Duncan Hunter have won re-election and provide the evidence that America continues to pick sides in a cold civil war that is tearing the country apart.
I am repulsed by the views and attitudes that define the Trump base. But I am not self-righteous. I know full well that those I oppose feel as strongly as I do and hold equal contempt for my views and attitudes. But I am tired of seeking common ground.
I am tired of arguing with my conservative contemporaries, defined by the pollsters as the older white voters in rural areas. I will not sneer at you. Or ridicule you. Yes, I will continue to offer impassioned alternatives to your policies but as for fruitlessly trying to dissuade you of your views, I am done with that.
My purpose in writing this blog is to share my discoveries about the eternal questions we elders face in the remaining years of our lives… how to find joy and meaning by cheating death with a spiritual practice that offers gratitude for our blessings.
More important than politics are our personal journeys; the clarity of inner discoveries, learning to subdue the self-righteous ego and to give ourselves over to love’s embrace. Of course, we have strong opinions and beliefs about economic policies and the role of government and the pursuit of happiness, but the overriding tenet is that love will prevail over hate.
That’s a gift, not an argument.
For me, it’s a recognition that the only things I can change reside within: moral turpitude, self-respect, acceptance of a power greater than ourselves.
I lead workshops for young men and women trying to overcome difficult backgrounds, trying not to be ground down by the social bigotry and economic obstacles they face. What am I to tell them? Sorry kids, you’re screwed by gerrymandered voting districts and half the country’s disparagement of your very existence.
The message I have for them must be personified by how I live my life; having commitment to the principles I believe in, loving and respecting myself, continuing to do the right thing and coming down on the side of love. My message is “see how I treat myself and others and how I allow others to treat me.”
So here is the choice-point I’ve reached. Continue to argue vainly with a constituency that is as unshakeable in their beliefs as I am in mine, or to believe that the darkness is not impenetrable, and I am one among many holding a light that is inextinguishable.
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