Saturday, November 12, 2016

Repair of the Soul and Repair of the World

I haven’t stopped reeling since the horror of last Tuesday night began to unfold, as it became clear that a vindictive, inarticulate narcissist with the moral compass of a rhesus monkey, and the qualifications of my cat, will become the next president of the United States.

It’s cold comfort that by the time the count is complete, Donald Trump will probably be behind Hilary Clinton by well over a million popular votes. The greed, social injustice, and ecological pillage that he promises to unleash will surely match and probably outstrip that of the Reagan years. And Reagan, at least, that simple-minded hack now canonized by the American right, at least had two terms as governor of California behind him before he assumed the most powerful office in the world. The flames of hatred and division that Trump fanned as he cut his campaign swath through the body politic will engulf for years the glimmers of the more just and tolerant society that we might instead have evolved into.
This is no time to retreat into a shell of private serenity and personal fulfilment. It’s not a time to collapse in despair. Neither is it a time to lash out in fury.
It’s a time to recognize that the only way to heal the soul is to repair the world, and the only way to heal the world is to repair the soul. The most authentic foundation for action is contemplation, as Franciscan Richard Rohr reminds us. And the litmus test that our spiritual practice isn’t mere self-delusion is conversely that it bears fruit in the world.
It’s a time to deepen our awareness through spiritual practice that our lives are not restricted to our small, isolated selves alone, but are nourished by the web of connections through which our life flows in and out of ourselves, in and out of each other, in and out of all creatures. And it’s a time to live out that awareness by building and sustaining networks of solidarity and action that will keep hope alive through dark years that we’re almost certainly facing.
It’s a time to donate to organizations that struggle for justice and dignity of the marginalized--to the American Civil Liberties Union, to the Southern Poverty Law Center, to Planned Parenthood, to a dozen others. Till we can’t afford to give more.
It’s a time to volunteer one’s talents and energy.
It’s a time to help settle refugees and to protect them from xenophobia.
It’s a time to participate in peaceful demonstrations.
It’s a time to pour out into the streets in solidarity with the victims of hate crimes.
It’s a time to work for positive change at more local levels, since the federal government has failed us all. It’s some comfort that progressive measures on a range of issues passed at state and local levels on Tuesday: the minimum wage was raised, transit projects were funded, possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use was decriminalized; a ballot measure for a single-payer health-care system in Colorado went down to resounding defeat, but at least it was on the ballot. More such measures will surely be on state ballots as Congress dismantles the Affordable Care Act.
It’s a time for queer men of spirit to recognize that what’s done to our Muslim brothers and sisters, our Hispanic brothers and sisters, our black brothers and sisters, our impoverished brothers and sisters, our trans brothers and sisters, our indigenous brothers and sisters,  is done to us, and to act accordingly. It’s a time to remember that we are the guardians of the Earth who is our Mother and of whom we remain a part, and to act accordingly.
It’s a time to remember that every time we make love, we win.

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