“If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” ~ Harry Truman
In less than a month, I’ve learned that sometimes my trust is misplaced, and my fears become my reality. I have also learned how to stand in the storm.
I did not vote for Donald Trump, but when he won, I wanted him to succeed. I wanted the people in this country that chose this man to have the same end goal that I have, even if they went about it in a different way. I wanted the country to be led in a vision where all Americans can live in a nation of peace and prosperity.
I trusted that the men and women chosen to assist the president would temper some of his more extreme views, and the history of our democratic nation would persevere.
Today, I see the chaos of our nation, the lack of leadership, the controversies and blatant disregard for the truth by the administration and those who blindly follow him, the purposeful diversion and the widening division, and I am afraid.
My fear specifically comes from the grand scope of the issues that are being thrown at the American people all at once. While some see this as promises being kept, and evidence of a spectacular work ethic of our new commander-in-chief, I believe this mad rush of executive orders is a calculated tactic to move beyond the conservative/liberal divide. I believe it’s intended to divide people on either side, who oppose any of his presidential actions, by overwhelming them in quick succession, with attacks on so many of the issues that mean the most to them.
The day after the inauguration, women marched all over the country. At the time, Trump’s followers framed the fact the march was not only for gender equality issues, but also LGBTQ issues, reproductive rights, immigration reform, religious tolerance, education reform, environmental issues, protests against the president and protests against the electoral college as a negative thing.
They claimed that no one group could make enough noise, so they had to combine just to get attention. They implied the group would dismantle and fade away.
But they missed the point.
These groups came together because these causes are intertwined. These people see a common thread between the treatment of the environment, all human rights issues, educating the youth and having medical treatment for all. And in that vision of all issues being equally important and connected, lies the strength of the movement.
But it’s also a potential weakness. How can we be at the women’s march, the town hall meeting on education, the gathering focused on harmful environmental policies and the protest supporting the LGBTQ community, and still stay on top of the evolving Russian chaos, religious intolerance in policy-making, the immigration crisis, the hostile disintegration of the relationship between our leaders and the media, the government’s lack of transparency with the American people, all while North Korea is launching missiles, and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict increases, and all of these questionable individuals are being placed in cabinet positions?
And how can we even know what we are unaware of with the deluge of misinformation coming from all sides?
We exhaust ourselves trying to be involved in all of our political causes. We are inundated with all the “facts” (real and otherwise) on social media. And more than anything else, our empathy and activism is being downplayed and divided and used against us. We cannot possibly address all of this with our full attention.
And that is the point.
If you feel overwhelmed, small and powerless in the face of all of this, you are not alone. Many feel that way. But the fact is, the truth is, we are all necessary elements in a large revolution of political involvement, community activism and compassionate civil responsibility. Specifically, because the struggle is so vast and multi-faceted, every individual is needed to be a part of whatever cause matters most to him or her. No voice is too quiet, no action too small. Every thread is needed to create the flag we are weaving and waving.
So what do we do?
We do what we can, with what we have, when we can, with abundant love.
We give ourselves grace for not being able to do it all. We choose where our power will be most utilized. We take care of ourselves, and each other, as we stay present in the storm around us. We do something every day to stay engaged in the struggle.
We do not allow ourselves to be complacent. We do not accept this upheaval as the new norm, rather we make the new norm speaking our truths boldly and acting on our convictions. We do not allow ourselves to have our energy depleted.
We spend time away from the noise to remember what peace feels like. We teach our children to be involved, loving and compassionate to others and themselves. We believe in each other and our power to change the world.
I now believe in the incredible power of a loving revolution.
“My call for a spiritual revolution is thus not a call for a religious revolution. Nor is it a reference to a way of life that is somehow other-worldly, still less to something magical or mysterious. Rather, it is a call for a radical re-orientation away from our habitual preoccupation with self toward concern for the wider community of beings with whom we are connected, and for conduct which recognizes others’ interests alongside our own.” ~ His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama
Author: Andrea Byford
Image: Flickr/Michele Ursino
Editor: Callie Rushton