“You see this goblet?” asks Ajahn Chah, the Thai meditation master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I know that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”
in quarantine, in self-isolation, or social distancing we may feel like our freedom has been limited and in some ways, it has. we can use this experience to empathize with and cultivate compassion for others who have had their freedom stripped away. feeling this connection we may practice our meditation dedicating it to them, offering prayers for them, or this may motivate us to work for or support organizations that work for their freedom.
but this is outer-freedom. what about inner-freedom?
inner-freedom is not dependent on outer circumstances. inner-freedom is the seat within where we always have a choice on how we respond to life as it is in this moment and one of those choices can be to keep our hearts open and choose to love.
what does loving look like in quarantine, in self-isolation, in social distancing? what does it look like to choose love in this situation, within these circumstances? what does it look like to exercise this freedom, to practice this love?
these are questions we can ask ourselves and practice with.
I’ve been sitting with my thoughts regarding Elizabeth Warren’s exit, these past few days.
With yesterday being International Women’s Day, I’ve been contemplating her exit even more.
Donald Trump is a symptom of bigger-deeper issues, but I also recognize the poisons he represents: a neglect of intellect and learning, an apparent abhorrence for truth and knowledge, a seeming disgust towards the “other”, male toxicity and aggression, and indifference to suffering.
For me, Elizabeth Warren represents the antidote: a female teacher, who presents well thought out, nuanced, strong progressive plans that address suffering, and who can be fierce without aggression. I posted this a while back on Twitter before she dropped out, lamenting that our final two candidates were white males who at times are aggressive. I stated it would be refreshing to have a female President. I was promptly chewed out by a verified journalist and Bernie supporter for being sexist and ageist.
Apparently, I’m in the minority, viewing Elizabeth Warren and the antidote President. I fear we have missed the boat on this one, learning little from 2016. I don’t see the antidote in our remaining two candidates.
Though Joe Biden may bring stability and I believe truly means well, it will be stability of a former status quo, one that continues to in many ways abandon the most vulnerable. It is immoral for pharmaceutical companies to make hundreds of millions and even billions as profits each year, as many of our elderly family and neighbors choose whether to purchase food to eat or prescriptions for needed medicines, not able to afford both. It is immoral that people – especially children starve and are homeless. The status quo is not working and Biden, in all likelihood will continue this and not address this. The increasing gap between the wealthiest and the working class falling deeper into poverty is immoral. Money making money, to just sit there making more money, while people starve, get sick and die is immoral. Biden has to be open to addressing these issues. We are going to have to unify.
Don’t be afraid of the term “Democratic Socialism.” It could just as easily be called “European Capitalism.” It isn’t Communism.
Though Bernie Sanders has vision and has energized the needed motivation to change this status quo, addressing these moral issues that I most align with after Elizabeth Warren, his campaign and movement contain within it a toxicity that needs to be exorcised. I have experienced it firsthand in 2016 and in this most recent campaign. To be clear, I believe the motivation behind the movement is one of compassion, and I think Bernie’s motivation is one of compassion. I have many beautiful, open-hearted friends who are Bernie supporters and have kept their kindness intact. However, there is an underlying anger at the current injustices (and rightly so) that isn’t being transformed by a significant portion of the movement and is instead being transmitted to anyone who doesn’t fall right in step, often being birthed into aggressive attacks online, even towards other progressives. This is harmful and toxic. Again, this isn’t from talking points given out by the “establishment” “the elite” or the “mainstream media.” I’m getting this from firsthand experience and from friends’ firsthand experience – from real people and often verified surrogates, not just Russian bots. This is driving many people who could be allies in this movement away. We are going to have to unify.
So we are left with two candidate who on each side have fervent supporters who have declared they will not vote for the other. Great. I’ve interacted with some folks who would rather the whole system burn down. Some of them stayed home or voted for Trump in 2016. Unfortunately, the whole system burning down isn’t fast like they want, it is slow, painful and cruel especially for the most vulnerable who already have it pretty bad in many cases. I wish people understood that there will be no progress if Trump is re-elected, for the next four years and possibly much much longer. I’m not convinced he will leave office. He loves hoaxes and even if he loses whether by a little or a lot, I’d expect the Justice Department will investigate the hoax, the meddling or whatever story he manifests. If he leaves, he faces possible indictments – what’s his motivation to actually leave?
In the general, I will #VoteBlueNoMatterWho, because I take the prospect of a Trump second term seriously enough. It will be much harder to make any progress under authoritarian rule. I’m not very optimistic that even that prospect as horrific as it is, is enough to drive the opposing sides closer to compromise and unity. BUT that is what is needed. No matter who the nominee is, if we ALL show up and vote, we can overcome Trump in the election.
For now, I have decided to take a step back from engaging in the rest of this primary. I’ve already voted and the ugliness, the nastiness that I see is exhausting and insulting to our humanity, it doesn’t deserve the little energy I have and plays into Trump’s manipulations all too easily. I’m going to Dagobah during this time, to give it a Star Wars reference. I’ll be online less, but will still share the art and quotes as I have, sharing light when and where I can, and then I’ll dive back in for the general election to fully support the Democratic Nominee to defeat Trump.
May all beings be safe and at ease. May all beings be free from suffering.
“Every moment in life is absolute in itself. That’s all there is. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don’t pay attention to each little this, we miss the whole thing.”
though anger can be a powerful motivator – the kick in the butt we need to move out of apathy and into action, if not tended to with love and transformed into a fierce and even forceful compassion, anger leads to aggression. aggression is poison. fierce and forceful compassion is not the same as aggression.
we cannot fight aggression with aggression. aggression feeds on more aggression.
desire for control of power is aggression. this is not the same as transformation.
if we cannot see this, if we cannot wake up to this, if the fruit of our movement – no matter the initial intention – becomes aggression, then we have already failed.
we must be honest with this, we must be authentic, if we truly desire transformation.