Thursday, November 10, 2016

Be Not Afraid, Be Not Scary

In these two days since the presidential election, I've noticed a lot of people around me are frightened. It's not just a sense I get, people are saying it out loud. I imagine lots of us are hearing this?

This morning at the YW someone said to me, "It's scary."
A cashier at the grocery store said, "I drank a whole bottle of wine by myself yesterday."
I went to get a flu shot this evening and the nurse told me how freaked out she and her coworkers are. 

Even people who seem angry instead of frightened, I think at least some of them are angry because somewhere they are frightened. 

This appears to be a very big problem we have.
I'm afraid some politicians have awoken and called forth some really bad ju ju. It feels like the Lord of the Rings out there. Some fearsome force has woken up, and the folks who woke it up can't control it.

How to respond?

I've come across a few attempts at humor, but they fall flat.

I'm missing the wisdom of religion.
I mean, the non-political side of religion. The mystical, philosophical, psychologically insightful stuff.
Like this:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment." --1 John 4:18(KJV)

And all the many times it says some variation of BE NOT AFRAID in the Bible.
What a helpful teaching. 
I don't think this is in the Bible (?), but it seems to me the matching teaching is,

Fear not, neither cause fear.

The more interested we are in controlling people, the more likely we are to use fear. Fear is like a ring through our noses we can lead others or be led around by. 
It takes a lot of energy to hold onto that ring though, and what if you let it go? It can be like Thomas Jefferson said of slavery, the ultimate fear-based relationship:
As it is, we [his white society] have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go."

The more interested we are in loving people, the less we use fear. Love is like the scent of a flower---it's freely given and we are perfectly free to walk away from it. 
It doesn't eat up energy because it's a free moving exchange.
It would be wise to be cultivating this sort of thing instead of catching more wolves, I think. 

I've been missing a religious pov---one thing I'd loved about being in the Catholic Church for five years was that you often didn't know the politics (or even the job) of the people  around you---the emphasis was always on the perspective that humans share one all-important unifying quality:

This perspective is often missing in politics.

I don't mean to be preaching, but I guess I am?
I'm just really sobered by what I'm seeing and hearing, and I'm trying to get my thoughts up and running. After the election, they were lying on the floor like a bird that flew into a window. 

I mentioned earlier that I've had a headache for two days. I must be holding my muscles tight. My jaw aches the way it does when I can't cry.

Am I frightened?
I mostly feel fatigued at the prospect of the future, which is a kind of fear. 

Like, Oh come on, humans! Do we really have to play this wasteful, effortful game? So much energy is going to be lost. It's going to be so much pointless work!

Could we just ... not do it?
Is that even possible?
To be not afraid, and to not cause fear?

Maybe not?

For myself, within myself, I'm going try.  

I'm going to keep listening to everyone who's a person, but I'm going to stop taking in media. 

I'm going to stop talking in terms of blame, because that just tightens the scary "Us vs. Them" screws. There are discernible facts in the matter, but they are already known and I don't need to keep going over and over them.

I am going to think about how best to position myself to help, if the going gets rough. My neighborhood has a lot of immigrants, some undocumented, people of color, LGBTQIA folks---they could all be on the front lines, if there's political violence. 
I can't be much help by myself, but I really don't do well in political settings. I've had better luck in religion. (Politics is the art of the possible. Religion is the art of the impossible.)
There's a church nearby that's big on social justice--it's Baptist, which is far from my experience, but I hear it's the Martin Luther King kind of Baptist, so I'm going to check them out. 
And there are other options.

I don't know.

When I was playing pinball on Election Night, I got talking to a guy who was as unhappy with the results as I was.
"We'll just have to be kind," I said, "and take care of each other."

He looked at me. Then he nodded, like in recognition. "We have to keep doing what we've been doing," he said.

He seemed sad, but he didn't seem afraid.


ArtSparker said...

You articulate a lot of what I have been thinking. Also just posted this on Facebook -

I think the left maybe needs to get less shrill about its own virtue, this is something that reduced the election to how much mud would stick. For instance, the Democratic party could remake itself as the party of practicality, and focus more on economic arguments and programs. Anybody seen the movie "A day without a Mexican"?

Not unrelated to what you are saying - Americans rushing to claim virtue never seems to end well, and the continual insistence that America is "great" is unhelpful which goes along with that as hollow assertion of faith is not helpful. America needs to be humble 0 maybe not again, as we may be virgins in that regard.

Frex said...

SPARKER: I'm glad this made some sense--I wrote it in some distress last night.

"the left maybe needs to get less shrill about its own virtue"
That claim to virtue upsets me a lot, actually, in particular listening to one lefty who sees himself as morally right and superior and anyone who disagrees with him as wrong & unacceptable as a person.

A practical politics--that sounds so lovely and grown-up!
Is that even possible for Americans?
We're such pompous, prideful children.

I didn't use the word "humility" in this post, but it was right there in my thoughts, and I like that you do use it.
I worry people hear that word as a put-down:
"You're a worm, lowly and insignificant".
I hear it as liberating:
"You're a worm! Without you and all the other worms we would have no garden at all."

Uff-da! as they say around here.