The United State's election for President was so close, and the candidates in my mind were so freaking far apart. And I was so afraid of the wretched and widening gap between people in the U.S. The division was so ugly between Democrats and Republicans, and mirroring the even-further separation of those with resources and those in poverty.
It still makes my heart quake.
"Disbelief" is a word I have to describe my state of mind about the state of affairs on November 3, 2004.
"This can't really be possible. We elected George W. Bush? We are choosing fear? We are choosing aggression? We are perpetuating a kind of blindness to humanity, a blindness to global citizenship? We are willfully ignoring the creation of relationships and working instead to sever and destroy?"
I'm speaking about my perception of our country's leaders working from this well-conveyed mentality: The post-9/11 mentality - of getting "evil doers" OUTSIDE our country -- when we forgot to check within our own hearts the rage and hate that perpetuates "evil" here!
Should I list those fears so rampant in the days leading up to November 2nd?
- The fear of gay people. That was a big one.
- The fear of two same sex individuals getting married and threatening the sanctity of"real" married love.
- The fear of Muslims.
- The fear of amassed arsenal and sneak attacks.
- The fear of spending money on social programs, on education.
- The fear of spending money on mass transit infrastructure.
- The fear of science and research that might destroy life.
I remember shortly thereafter having dinner at my then partner's home.
Dudley's parents were in town from Vermont. Her mom, the state poet, Ellen Bryant Voigt and her father, Fran Voigt, named "Vermont's Citizen of the Year," had come for a visit. Also at the table were writer and contemplative, Patricia Hampl, and her husband, (whose name escapes me now.). All civic-minded individuals, all passionate about equality, justice, freedom, but achieving those in a radically different manner than what George W. Bush had prescribed for the country. All, too, had come of age during the 60's, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Women's Liberation, and found themselves called to work diligently to make change....
All were teachers, too, as I think about it now.
Ellen and Fran were college professors in Vermont, at Goddard College, and Patricia was/ is at the University of Minnesota...And then there was Dudley and I, working on "The Juno Collective," and working with our little crew of urban students, trying to make our kind of revolutionary change in the way people see, assess literacy, intelligence, and understand diversity....
But on that evening, at the table, we were all in mourning over the turn we saw our country taking:
The turn toward war.
The turn of citizens and our leaders toward embracing and being lead by the FEAR of "evil" in the world - and needing to CONTROL IT, STOP IT...and how? By BEING VIOLENT AND DESTRUCTIVE OURSELVES!
In this, (the "oldest military treatise in the world") the Chinese leader states,
"Choose your enemy wisely, for you eventually become him."
That thought sticks in my head a lot right now, as I think back to that election, and the war we've waged in the name of Peace and Democracy, LIberation....And the way that I'm living and working to love, discern, act right now.
I can't vilify George W. Bush, name him as "enemy," or point and blame him for all that is at hand. In doing so, I become him. (Do you understand this?) I can, however, intelligently, reasonably, compassionately, REFLECT on November 2nd and all the days since then. I can reflect on my fellow citizens. On myself. On all that has transpired in the course of the last four years in my own heart, in my own home, in this country, and what I know of the larger global societies. And I can make my own change.
I CAN CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE AN ENEMY. I can choose not to act from my fears, but from my faith. I can choose to see the inter-connectedness of all beings. I can choose to see everyone with new eyes: as Love. I can choose to see as a benevolent and all-loving Creator asks me to see. See as God asks us all to see. And I can vote and act from that place of thinking and being.