Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Moving Forward From The 2016 Election...

Peggy Guggenheim collection, Venice, Italy
I continue to noodle and ponder the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election ...

I have been having some tough conversations with others who supported Trump as well as Clinton as I am sure many of you are. There are a lot of tension, wounds (some self-inflicted), uneasiness, resentment and anger. Distrust is rampant toward everything, including 140+ "fake" news sources, and everybody. We are creating an unhealthy, toxic environment for ourselves and for others.

It is up to each of us to stop it.

Consider the ageless wisdom of The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:

    1. Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Keep your promises. Be sincere. Be reliable. Make sure what is written on your resume is verifiable and truthful. Be compassionate in conversation with others.

   2. Don't take anything personally. What people say and do is a projection of their reality. Their perception may not be reality. What is their reality is not your reality. To embrace someone else's reality is to suffer.

   3. Don't make assumptions. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Seek to understand before being understood. This one practice can reduce conflict and suffering. Avoiding assumptions can be transformative. 

   4. Always do your best. Be your best. Give your best. By always doing, being and giving your best, you avoid self-deception and the unawareness of what's beyond ourselves.

Ruiz's writing is the second greatest commandment of the Christian faith in detail, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39, NIV). Don't take that concept neighbor lightly. Recognize your neighbor is the person who voted opposite of you. Recognize your neighbor is the person who didn't vote. Recognize your neighbor is the 'least of these.' Recognize your neighbor is the immigrant, the Muslim, the LGBTQ. Recognize your neighbor is marginally informed. Recognize your neighbor is the 'other.' That is a very tough challenge and yet it is what Christ did. He modeled the way and asked those who follow Him to do the same.  

I put faith before politics. I put my neighbor before my politics. I do not see Jesus Christ being a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist or a Communist. He didn't come to take sides, yet many will justify Christ supporting their political view. If you can justify Christ supporting your political view then you believe the Constitution holds more wisdom than the Gospel and when you die, you are going to Washington, DC.

Second, part of this commandment is even tougher for me - love myself first with all my scars, failures, brokenness, imperfections, and delusions ... so I can love my neighbor. As the late Brennan Manning wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel, "To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God's grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, 'A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.'" 

To love myself just as I am, is to be open and vulnerable. Openness and vulnerability means asking questions and listening rather than telling and ignoring. We all live in a state of being marginally informed. No one has a monopoly on knowledge, information, facts and truth, including the talking heads on radio, television and social media. We would all benefit from being a lot more curious and questioning than assuming and judging based upon our marginal knowledge. 

Another very tough scripture I'm trying to live into from this 2016 Presidential election is from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances." How do you give thanks for the fire that destroyed your home? How do you give thanks for being without a job? How do you give thanks for the candidate you did not vote for? How do you give thanks for depression?

Mitford series author, Jan Karon, In This Mountain, has her main character, Father Tim, deal with depression. It's from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that Father Tim finds solace and peace to deal with his depression. Father Tim experiences deeper gratitude for his life and what is in his life. Furthermore, he discovers more compassion for others. 

I submit to you, The Four Agreements, loving yourself just as you are so you can love others, and Thessalonians 5:18 may be the healing balm we need moving forward from this election. 

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