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January 18, 2021

Yes to Mindfulness, No to Apathy—it’s Time to Make a Difference in the World.

I am grateful that I found this mindful community a few years ago.

In so many ways, you have all changed my life for the better.

Mindful meditation each day restores balance to my life. Being fully present and letting go of past suffering has helped me stay sober for over six years. I thank you all for that.

So, I have to ask, “Is there a danger of too much mindfulness? Can mindfulness lead to apathy? Can letting go morph into not caring?” We must, as a community, be sure to answer these questions with a resounding no.

I am peaceful. I am forgiving. I am willing to let go of what no longer serves me. I believe that loving-kindness makes the world go around. I believe I have made positive changes in my life beyond sobriety.

In my past, I have been overly judgmental. In the past, my thoughts were not always kind. If my neighbor let his yard go unkempt, he was slovenly. If my coworker took a break to smoke a cigarette, she lacked willpower. If my child did not say thank you, he was ungrateful.

I now realize that I carried too much judgment. I have learned that I cannot live in someone else’s skin, and I do not want to. I cannot judge how another person lives her life, and I do not want to. I accept, I let go, and I love other people for who they are. That is what mindfulness means to me.

After years of work, I hope that I am no longer overly judgmental. I hope that I am loving, accepting, and kind.

What I am not, however, is apathetic. I am not willing to tolerate injustice. I cannot be that forgiving. My spiritual adviser tells me to love everyone. He tells me I can’t love everyone but then single out someone and say, “Except him.” Love doesn’t work like that. I understand that, but I struggle to love the fascists who supported the attempted coup on January 6.

We have a new president. Some of my well-meaning, mindful friends tell me that now is the time to put our nasty politics in the rearview mirror and start over. They tell me that Donald Trump’s litany of outrage is in the past. He is yesterday’s news. Let it go, and move on, they say. Turn the page, they say.

I will not. I cannot. The part of me that is peaceful, forgiving, loving, and nonjudgmental is too pissed off to turn the f*cking page.

Too many children have been placed in cages.

Too many people of color and those who live in poverty have been marginalized.

Too many rampant racists have been encouraged to come out of their closets.

Too many billionaires have been rewarded for exploiting too many of their workers.

Too many people of privilege have openly dehumanized those who are different.

Too much poisonous gas is being pumped into our fragile planet. 

Too many smart people followed that guy, even as he made baseless claims that the election, which he badly lost, was stolen. 

The last straw, and the thing that makes my head want to explode, is that my duly elected congressman, along with 139 other members of the House of Representatives, voted to throw out the presidential election results. These members of Congress are not stupid, and they knew in their hearts that the results were valid. These members of Congress voted to throw the results out because they needed to appease the fascists in their home districts who support them.

These 140 members of congress voted to support the violent protesters who attempted to stage a coup in the misguided hope that Trump could stay in power, and this parade of horribles might continue. For how long? Another four years? Forever? We don’t need elections anymore, right?

I am not willing to forgive and forget. I am not willing to let go. I am not willing to allow my seditious congressman to avoid being held accountable. The thing that really frosts me is that he and the other 139 members of congress think they can get away with this. They think they can attempt a coup without consequences. They think that you and I will not hold them accountable. They think they can vote to throw out the constitution and get off scot-free with no punishment.

Does my congressman really think I’m that apathetic? Does he think I am going to let him get away with this? He voted against impeaching the man who incited a riot that nearly got him killed in the capitol building. Is he stupid? Does he think I am?

Is your elected member of congress guilty of doing these things?  If so, does your member of congress think you are apathetic, too? Or stupid?

This is not about Donald Trump. I am so over Donald Trump. He is gone, forever, I hope. Donald Trump is not the problem. Donald Trump is no longer worth my time.

Here’s what I am not over: I am not over the cages. I am not over the racism. I am not over the marginalization. I am not over the exploitation. I am not over the dehumanization. I am not over the poison, real and figurative, that is being dumped into the atmosphere.

One hundred forty members of the House of Representatives followed Trump off the cliff like scared lemmings. One hundred million Americans are represented in our House of Representatives by a member of congress who took an oath on January 3 to support the Constitution of the United States, then three days later voted to support a coup. To what end? To keep the cages? To encourage the racism, the marginalization, the exploitation, and the dehumanization?

If you are one of those 100 million people, then your problem is the same as mine. Who the hell does our member of Congress think we are?

I try to live a mindful life. Normally I am forgiving. I am all about moving forward. I let go of things that no longer serve me. I believe that most human suffering springs from undue attachment.

What I am not about is failure to act when action is needed. If ever there were a time when mindful, deliberate action was needed in our land, that time is now. Not since the Civil War has a congress been this seditious. These fascists who followed Trump over the edge need to be held accountable for their sedition.

They think we will turn the f*cking page. Or worse, they think we wanted them to vote the way they did. They think we wanted them to throw out the election results. They think we wanted them to stage a coup.

We cannot be the people who they think we are. We cannot let them get away with this. Living in the present does not mean we cannot change the future. The only way to change the future is to change how we act in the present. We must make them accountable for their actions—sedition must have consequences.

To that end, everyone who believes in our democracy has to speak up. It’s time for the power and energy of mindful communities like ours to rise up and say that we are not going to take this anymore.

How do we make big changes in our lives?

I suggest we think big, and then we take one small, achievable step at a time.

If I wanted to be an astronaut, I’d first sign up for flying lessons and maybe surf the internet for a cheap ground study guide; then I would take action. I’d buy the guide, and I’d take a flying lesson. The astronaut thing may happen or it may not, but I guarantee it won’t happen if I don’t take the first step.

Those of us whose member of congress is one of the 140, we have to make changes in our districts. These seditious people must genuinely recognize the harm they have caused, or they must be defeated at the next election. Some of them may truly say they are sorry, but I seriously doubt it. So, they have to go.

Do you think for even a second that these 140 members of congress who voted to subvert democracy did so because they all looked in the mirror and said, “Today, I am going to subvert democracy?” Of course not. They expected sedition would help them politically. Every politician’s goal is to get re-elected. They thought their districts would back them—we cannot let them be right.

If there are to be electoral consequences for these 140, we have to start now. We have to take steps now—every single one of us.  They don’t have to be big steps, but they have to be real steps.

Do something beyond just thinking about it. Write letters to the editor. Talk with your neighbors.

Surely you have friends who voted for your seditious congressman. Mobilize and explain that Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization, but real people with genuine grievances caused by 400 years of institutional racism.

Become activists. Work for the candidate who can beat these people next time. Best yet, be that candidate. Run for congress. Make a f*cking difference in the world—someone has to do it.

The truth is we all have to do it because America is counting on us.

~

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