November 9, 2016

Canada can’t Save Us. Only We Can.

I haven’t even read the news yet.

Facebook tends to handle that for me. I feel somewhat spared and also somehow involuntarily injected with a lot of anger, most of which I completely understand.

I have yet to see anyone celebrating and I’m clear that’s not because it’s not happening, but rather because at one point I opted out of connecting with people who might support Trump. I actually unfriended my cousin a month ago because he posted his support for Trump and the justifications were so horrifying. I didn’t want to see it.

Things like this happen, and then a lot of people talk about leaving the country. The Canadian immigration website crashed last night from getting overloaded with too much traffic.

I want to say, “Hello from the other side.” My name is Antesa and I’m a professional escape artist, and I live in the world’s supposed utopia: Denmark.

Leaving the country doesn’t work the way we think it does. And neither does unfriending distant family members on Facebook.

Let me tell you about disconnection and disassociation. This notion that we can’t get our needs met while staying associated and connected to a thing or a person or a place. Instead of taking a hard long look at why we believe that, we cut and run.

Change doesn’t happen when all of us believe we only have two choices: stay and suffer, or leave and be happy. It doesn’t work in institutions, it doesn’t work with our parents and extended family, it doesn’t work at our jobs, it doesn’t work in relationships, and it doesn’t work with physical residence.

We say we care about our country the way we say we care about our abusive relatives who we have never reconciled with: we want most of all to demonstrate that we are better than them. We pretend to have forgiven them for their horrible treatment of us and then we separate ourselves and forget it ever happened.

And then we cleverly set up our whole lives to avoid the thing that triggers us. The overt loose cannon drunken behavior. The erratic reactivity, the irrational statements, the bigotry. Seeing those things causes us pain, and so we separate ourselves from them. We make our viewpoints right and theirs wrong—and we justify our separateness.

We pretend it doesn’t exist until once every four years we realize they’re still there, and they’re still erratic and irrational and bigots. And we had forgotten all about them. And now we need them to help pay our rent. And while we’ve disconnected and opted to stay surrounded by other like-minded people to avoid the pain and discomfort, so have they. Both ends perpetuate further and further into the extremes.

This is what disconnection on a large scale looks like.

Wake-up happens when we realize that all the tools we’ve tried no longer work and we realize we gotta actually look at ourself and stop pointing at everyone else to handle it. People go into recovery and start working the steps when they can finally admit that they have a problem. That’s step one. And we aren’t even close to there yet with our country.

We think we can fix it with one woman or one man. We think we can numb it with alcohol and television and legalizing marijuana and loading up our lives with so much compression that we won’t notice it’s starting to rot. We think to ourselves, “well, if it really gets bad, I’ll just leave the country.”

As a person who has spent most of her life running I’m gonna tell you the unfortunate truth: this is the point where our monsters catch up with us. And we can’t outrun it anymore. Trump is our shadow, and if we can’t find our power here, we are f***ed. Escape and continued separateness is no longer working.

It’s time to admit we have a problem.

And even though I live in Denmark now, I’m willing to admit that. I’m willing to admit I shouldn’t have unfriended my cousin and I shouldn’t have left five and a half years ago under the guise of trying to build myself a better life than the one I thought was available to me in the U.S..

I’ve learned a lot of things on this journey and the biggest one is that we are the masters of our own fate. A good life isn’t something we go pick up at the office vending machine once we pay our taxes, and it’s not something that has as a prerequisite a healthy and stable government.

It’s something we create. And it requires looking at all the pieces, and especially, the ones we feel most compelled to disconnect and disassociate from. Those pieces are our greatest teachers. That’s where all our power is locked up.

So I’m gonna ask: what story are you telling yourself that has it so you feel helpless and hopeless this morning? And how can you reframe that story?

Do you want to change the world? It’s time to actually opt in to being the face of that change.

And it starts here and now.


Author: Antesa Jensen

Image: Elephant Instagram

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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