And So it Begins…Our Beautiful, Dangerous Assignments, Part V

1/21/17

FAMILY PORTRAIT

Donald Trump is part of our human family. We don’t get to choose our biological family. And we don’t get to choose our human family. They are givens. And we might not like them and might commit ourselves to opposing their actions, but we are still all related.

In Trump’s case it is more like learning to work with a two-year-old distant cousin who is in constant tantrum mode and is lashing out violently. We have to protect ourselves and each other, we have to do our best to protect the house we’re in, we have to try and stop the destruction, but we also know that this is a developmental phase and there is a being of love inside the little monster, and we need to contain it and even hold it close until it can calm down. Sometimes the parents are ignoring the little tazmanian devil, so we have to step in and calm it down for the good of everyone in the family. (The practicality of how we deal with a beserk two-year-old when it’s our country’s leader is not clear yet. But the poetry of the image helps me find sanity in this moment.)

Anger is important. Discipline is important. Saying “No!” is important. But all of these engage just one level of our identity and reality. We also have to remember what we love. We have to remember the organic unfolding of the universe and trust in its deep goodness—goodness that is beyond binaries of good and bad, right and wrong, them and us, you and me. We have to practice joy in the face of devastation. The 14th Dalai Lama reminds us of this when responding to questions about how he could be so happy when he and his people have been the recipient of such violence, genocide, hatred and oppression. How does he maintain his laughing jolliness in the face of total loss and uncertainty? He answers with something like, “They have taken away so much from us. I won’t let them take away my happiness.”

Caroline Kasey continually reminds us that if we want to protect what we love, we must become like it. We must embody our deepest values, now more than ever. If we love community, we must foster community in all that we do—not just with the people we like or feel comfortable with. If we love diversity, we must embrace diversity at every level, including diversity of opinion and approach. If we love God, we must become like God. If we love our planet, we must take the planet’s-eye-view of all of this.

To our planet, Trump is just a pimple. Perhaps a particularly painful one, but not something to lose our integrity over. We want to treat it and help it dissolve as fast as possible, and we don’t want to inflame it or let it get infected. But we don’t want to alter all of who we are and what we hold most dear to zero in on something so temporary.

If we don’t seek to understand the actions that led us, this human family to this point, we are doomed to repeat them. We are creatures of habit. In order to heal we need to make our habits conscious. We need to make them conscious and then slowly, bit by bit, interaction by interaction, feeling by feeling, thought by thought, email by email, text by text, breath by breath, bring them back into balance.

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