Division

So in my lil’ ole neck of the woods there have been a LOT of Trump/Pence signs going up this week. Even my son noticed; we discussed it tonight in the car. It made me think of a friend of mine who has been adamantly online in social media blasting Trump; calling out racist views. Very vocal, opinionated.

And I get it. This is important.

But I resist such expressions. And it causes a conflict in my soul. I actually do deeply fear Donald Trump becoming our President. For a lot of reasons, but mostly because he appears to have that very powerful combination of smart enough to be mean and mean enough to be smart. We all remember our high school bullies. He reminds me of them in every evil way.

My soul wants peace. I don’t want to fight – with anyone. I have friends, family – people I admire and respect – who are very sure that Trump is the right choice. And then there is Hillary Clinton. Who, I am so sorry, I just do not trust. I do believe she is a better choice than Donald Trump; I actually believe she is a very smart woman. But I also believe she is a choice that simply locks us back into the status quo; of the powerful retaining power; of politics as usual; of keeping us at war.

What to do?

I do not pretend to have the answers; but I have made a decision. I will vote; and I will vote for Hillary Clinton as I pinch my nose. But I’m not digging in on either side. I am not rejecting my friends who strongly support either candidate. I’m staying on the side of peace; on the side of connection; on the side of “okay, you think this and I think that … can’t we still talk? Can’t we still be friends?” Even if it relates to really large issues that push ALL my buttons. For example, I truly cannot understand disliking or judging someone from the color of the skin or their choice in religion.

But I also know that we learn what we live and so many of us have been steeped in hatred and it is hard to let it go.

I really do not believe that my simple opinion will be enough to sway anyone; we all need to think for ourselves. But I do believe my life and my actions speak for me; that my talk and my walk line-the-hell-up, at least most days. And that THAT speaks louder than my words.

The answer to all this conflict lies in this connection from person to person. Do you see me? Do I see you? We are losing our communities; we are losing each other.

A sweet moment occurred last week as I was teaching at Roanoke College. I teach a yoga course there, this is my second year. It is a great gift to bring this powerful practice to these “children” who are about to launch into the world.

Last week a young man stayed after to talk. He talked about how interesting the course had been, which was sweet and made my soul sing – and then he asked if I had ever traveled and yes, I responded, yes; I sure have tried to see some of this amazing world.

He said that he used to think he had all the answers; that he understood how things were and how there really wasn’t anything out there to see or learn. And then he traveled to London, and everything changed; he realized there were other valid ways of thinking; other viewpoints. And that was the catalyst that led him to taking yoga to find out more about Eastern thought and philosophy. And he learned this just by going to London, an English-speaking place. So interesting.
It was a sweet reminder of how I have always told my children “I will never take you to Disneyland; but I will show you as much of the world as I can.”

And I have.

When you travel; whether it is 20 miles away or 2000 miles away – you have new experiences; you are a stranger in a strange land. It helps you to have new perspective. To meet new people, to be uncomfortable; to be the only white person or the only blonde person or the only brown person or the only English-speaking person … or maybe even just the only person who doesn’t know where the hell the subway is … Traveling helps connect us to our humanity; to our need for connection; to our need for each other.

When you meet someone from another country you might take the time to find them on a map; when there’s an earthquake, you think of them. When there’s a bombing, you worry. The planet; the universe; it shrinks.

So, maybe this is a very long way of saying – my friends are my friends. I hope no matter what the outcome this Fall, we will still be there to support each other. I hope that our personal connection will be greater than some philosophical division. I hope that everyone will realize that people are people are PEOPLE and it doesn’t matter if they have red hair or brown eyes or curly hair or worship Durga or adore Jesus or kneel to Mohammad.

I don’t judge you decision this Fall; we’re all struggling, we’re all hoping, we’re all trying. But maybe the answer isn’t about our decision. It’s how we treat each other. Less division, more inclusion; less fear, more faith; less short-sightedness, more consciousness. And hopefully, heaps more love and … some day … some day my dear friends … peace.

Shanti,

Jill

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