I am really sad about the outcome of the election on many levels. I suspect that many (but not all) of you feel the same way. Now what? I’m looking for ways that spirituality can fight post election despair. But first, something must be said.
I have not made a secret of the fact that I do not like Donald Trump. At the same time, I have done my best to remain in conversation with Trump supporters, especially on my Facebook page. And I often wrote “whomever wins, we need to come together as a country and find a way to heal.” I’ll be honest – I hoped that I would be the one who got to play the role of gracious winner, but the Universe has other plans for me. So I will take a page from Hilary Clinton’s speech, and look at Trump with an open mind. He won, and he and his supporters have an opportunity to prove that my fears are unfounded.
I really do want to heal as a country. This does not, however, mean giving up on what I believe in. As President Obama said, we see to a peaceful transition of power. Then we go back to work and fight the political fights.
But what can I do? I feel like crap.
Mussar as always has some suggestions.
Here are Five Soul Traits to help you process the election results and fight post-election despair.
Humility: We each only get one vote. Although I volunteered and donated, in the ballot box, I only have one vote. In fact, my vote counts less in California than it would have in the Midwest. It appears that Clinton won the popular vote. When it comes to a National Election, I occupy a very small space. We can rage against the machine, or we can accept reality. On the National and World Stage, I occupy a very small space.
However, in other parts of my life, I occupy a much larger space. I can make a positive contribution to my family and community. One friend of mine said she will write one letter about climate change a day for the next year. And I love this article from Jenna Amatulli in the Huffington post that outlines ways to help, by listing organizations that support progressive causes. Don’t move. Volunteer.
Patience – Mussar is teaching that Patience is bearing the burden of the situation, much as the Israelites bore the burden of slavery in Egypt. It is a gift to help us endure when we cannot take action. When it comes to this election, there is little we can do. The painter Paul Klee died in 1940, at a time when it looked like Hitler would take over everything. Five years later Hitler was destroyed. This election is not the end of the story, but we will have to endure years of policy changes that will hurt some of us to the core.
Honor the Divine Spark in others. I remember feeling bad for Republicans who were so bitterly disappointed that Obama was re-elected in 2012. I felt the same way in 2004 when Kerry lost to Bush. Today I tip my cap to the Trump supporters. It is their turn. I hope they will be gracious winners.
HOWEVER, it is more important to honor minority communities who may be feeling scared about what a Trump presidency means for them. And they way we can honor them is by taking action.
Enthusiasm – Mussar teaches that we should “Run to do good.” There are many hurting people out there. We can acknowledge Trump’s presidency while at the same time remain active in the civic and political arenas. Be aggressive to stop bullying when you see it. Reach out to your LGBT, black, Latino, Muslim, Jewish, feminist friends and let them know that you have their back. Another thing you can do is provide a safe space for people. A Rabbi friend started a private group where people can support each other through the stress of the election. And the Pantsuit Nation Facebook Group of women who support Clinton has over 3 million members. The woman’s issues raised in this campaign are not going away. Join a group and get active.
Equanimity – This soul trait is also known as Calmness of the Soul. It is a zen-like ability to be present, to accept what is, and stay on an even keel whatever happens.This is so hard for me. Spiritual masters like Eckhart Tolle call it being present, or being Awake. I’ll be honest – I’ve suffered a lot this year. I write suffered with a small s because the things that caused me unhappiness are stress and work related. Now, I have something truly calamitous to be unhappy about. Maybe this will be the incentive I need to start meditating, and doing what I need to do to wake up. Tolle tells a story of a student of his who was grateful for his illness because it forced him to go deeper into their consciousness and dissolve the ego. I really want to do this.
Finally, let me leave you with a Korean quote from my sister in law “It’s not the seven falls. It’s the eight rises.”
For many of us, this is a fall. When you rise, look around, and look within. I’m sure that something needs fixing in your own back yard.
Want to start your own Mussar journey? Click here to join me on the Soul Trait Profile Quiz.