For many, the morning of last Nov. 9 was surreal, it was as if we had woken in a foreign land, but as John Pavlovitz describes below, the land we nostalgically thought we’d lost is a land that never was. With Trump, we have made explicit the implicit injustice that has been our history.
The country we’ve lost, in truth, has never existed, just as the democracy we want to retake, has also never existed. John Pavlovitz, a white male Christian, posted an excellent essay on his nostalgia for a country that may just be a wisp of smoke, an ephemeral dream, but never a reality for most Americans. The article caused me to reflect on many discussions Roxanne and I have had, debating whether “Retake Our Democracy” even makes sense since the democracy we seek to retake is more mythology than reality. See the link to Pavlovitz’s post at the bottom of this page.
While many of us woke on November 9 feeling as if we were entering an entirely new world, where greed and hubris would threaten our very way of life, Pavlovitz writes that the world we have now is not really new or different for many Americans. Native Americans have felt oppression since the first boats of Anglos arrived on their shores. Others, who later arrived to our shores in chains, were subjected to two centuries of slavery and once ‘freed,’ were released into a harsh reality void of justice and fraught with threats both veiled and overt. And today our immigrant families carry the fear of deportation, if not for them, then most certainly for someone close to them. For those without the correct paperwork, no matter if they’ve lived, worked, and paid taxes here for a decade or more, they wake up daily wondering if their lives and families will be torn apart. For women who are paid less, and for the LGBTQ community that has their rights restored and revoked by distant courts, justice and equity are nice ideas they’d like to experience as a way of life, not a brief victory. Lastly, there are the increasing number of once middle class individuals who slip from relative economic comfort to the now daily anxiety of how to pay the rent, and the millions of seniors whose pensions have eroded and whose country is shrinking from providing the quality healthcare that is available in all other developed nations, but not in the land of the free.
So on the 4th of July, I ask you to acknowledge this history, not to be dispirited by it, but rather use it to fuel a renewed commitment to the vision, the dream. Visions and dreams are good to have as they can fuel the spirit and motivate action. So today, do not dwell on what has been, but make a commitment to what can be, that which we have carried signs and marched for so many times. “Free at last, free at last” may still only be a rhetorical flourish, but with commitment and sustained personal action, we can turn the tide from avarice, greed, and hubris, and redirect our ship to head toward that which we have long aspired. It won’t happen without sacrifice. So I ask you to comment below on what you will do in the coming year. I ask you to go to your Facebook page and post what you will do this year, so that next July 4, we can see progress, we can see our ship taking a different direction to the land we have long aspired.
Enjoy your grill today. It has been a rough 8 months, but know it has been a rough 350 years for many in our land, and it is our duty to fix that.
Click here to read Pavlovitz’s full essay. It is a very good read.
Paul & Roxanne
I’m organizing the nationwide “March for Democracy,” which now includes the “National Popular Vote March for 2020,” to take place on Saturday, October 7, 2017 (Columbus Day weekend), in Washington, D.C., and across the U.S. Please join us and RSVP, volunteer, and donate to move the march forward: http://www.themarchfordemocracy.com
When i was a kid, I avidly read tons of sci-fi and sci-fantasy by the great writers of the 50’s and 60’s. Their futurist visions usually began en medias res, looking back in time to some massive catastrophe of the civilization before them. The vision of the protagonist often was to comprehend the juxtaposition between the present and the past, and strategize a way forward through the karmic remains he or she found themselves in.
At that time i developed a expectation that things could only get better because there was so much tragic history from which to learn, change and grow. The mistake I made was that I could not see myself and my ilk still inside the catastrophe as it worked itself out. Hence the current condition today, the miserable end of yet another ignorant and foolish empire, whose legacy is nothing more than an historical trail of dead and/or mangled bodies, scorched Earth and devastated psyches.
Now some 40 years into my Zen pathway, I see that it is always now, never then, never coming. MLK also said that no (one) is free until all are free. And yet it is obvious there is no such thing or construct as ‘free.’ There is only responsibility, which liberates one from the illusion of freedom.
Paul asks for action out of vision and dream. I would observe that we might also consider listening to the sound of one hand clapping as our first act. This is another way of experiencing the silence between our mental activities and our traumas. In this space of no things and no acts, calm and rest emerge.
To me, for me, this is the way forward. To not do, but allow ki to move through me. Reaction is a doing, but not doing is also a doing. It appears that since this particular animal we live inside emerged from the ancestral gene pool, little ‘not doing’ has been done. This animal, isolated inside id and ego, has rarely demonstrated that doing things from that location is sustainable.
As an ecologist, I am sadly confident that the demise of most life above fungi and bacteria is near. For one year, would it not be advisable to allow universal life force energy to have a chance of cleansing and recovering this human animal? I have learned many things from silence and the guidance of ki.