On Remembrance Day – Dear mindfulness practicing friends:
On Tuesday we witnessed an unexpected victory for Donald Trump in the USA- he will be the next President for our neighbours to the South- along the longest undefended border between two nations.
Our people have evolved side by side for over 150 years with enough shared values and similar life styles that we could say unequivocally: we have more interests in common than differences.
I remember this wonderful picture book from 1976 that featured neighbours along that long border – called : Between Friends , pictured above. The heartwarming photos of ordinary people living close to our border with the USA and Americans living within a stone’s throw of our Canadian communities was edited and compiled by Lorraine Monk. Ironically it came out in a second special edition in June 2001- a few months before the world was transformed by 9/11.
When I flip through my copy, I can see how closely our lives can be intertwined across that border. How interdependent we actually are, how special our international friendships have been over many generations.
Whatever your sentiments right now, at this moment in time – whether you are feeling elated or devastated by a Donald Trump Republican victory – know that your views will change. The world will keep moving forward, and we will be seeing and hearing how the new administration evolves after the early days of January 2017.
It is important to use our practices now to enhance our ability for critical thought, for evaluation, for clarity and honesty. Do we have a willingness to look deeply into our own attitudes and views on politics, social change and the needs of all of Americans, Canadians and the Planet ? We may actually have to fight for our deep convictions, in our own ways: taking stands peacefully where we can, within the system for what we believe in. The Civil Rights movement on behalf of all marginalized people and the survival of this very planet – is not over!
It is easy to fall into the black hole of seeing disaster fall upon us all, if you support the Democratic party and what they have been working for these last two terms in the White House. Since Tuesday morning I have been waking up and flashes of fear and apprehension pass through my mind and body. I see the wiping out of democratic institutions and long and hard fought battles on many issues, such as climate change and human rights; the importance to provide refuge for those fleeing tyranny. Many hard fought socially progressive legislation and social safety nets suddenly appear to be vulnerable to elimination with the stroke of the new President elect’s pen. Then I remember Mark Twain who is reported to have said “I have seen many disasters in my time- 75% have never even happened.”
My mind like that of most of ours is quick to get aroused into a fight or flight reaction. That is the nature of the mind. It fills in the blanks very quickly, and before we know it we see destruction and devastation all over the place. My hope is that I will keep my practice very close and watch over my thoughts and not allow my emotions to take me down into fear and despair. They say there is a silver lining around every cloud. If that is the case: What is Tuesday election’s sliver lining? Perhaps it is the opportunity to recognize that reality and reality shows are not the same thing!! The internet can not be the source of our education. It is filled with anger driven, even hateful commentary masquerading as facts. It is time to teach ourselves and our children rudimentary logic – to immunize everyone from being swayed by innuendo and calumny and slander.
These times may also be an opportunity to listen and learn and try to figure out how we can actually work together for needed change in our strong democracies. I invite you to view the following Tube video: I think it speaks to the single most important issue in the Western World that absolutely needs to be addressed. This issue- about inequality of wealth distribution – can no longer be ignored. Income distributions have reached a most egregious extreme in America; but it is not only a problem in the USA.
To be honest, it is a bit of a stretch for me, but I am trying to be open to what were the needs and sentiments behind those who gave their votes to Trump, and apparently held such disdain for Hillary Clinton. Maybe the above video explains one of the many factors that have led to where we are right now, on Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day (or Veterans’ Day) is a time to remember that a not so long ago, in the in the 1910’s ,1940’s ,1930’s, 1950’s, 1960’s indeed every decade in the last century – our brave sons and daughters have been willing to go and fight for values and a way of life we have been benefiting from.
The only way forward, in my estimation, is to foster dialogue and ask questions and keep listening – Between Friends. I wish the best to our friends and neighbors, even family in the Great United States to begin the journey of healing, so the nation can be whole again soon…
May the great American poet Galway Kinnell lead the way.
How Many Nights
How many nights
have I lain in terror,
O Great Spirit, maker of night and day,
only to walk out
the next morning over the frozen world
hearing under the creaking of snow
faint, peaceful breaths…
bear, earthworm, ant…
and above me
a wild crow crying “yaw, yaw, yaw”
from a branch nothing cried from ever in my life.
From: Body Rags – 1968 – reprinted in A New Selected Poems 2001