I have rewritten this piece over five times. Part of me want to mount the barricades in the last scene from Act One of Les Miserable and wave a proud flag of courage. Part of me wants to be reasoned and cautious and believe that “this too shall pass”.
My mother who had lots of health and life challenges used to ritually intone those words. She meant that every experience has a purpose – not all of them too our liking, but all of them are meant to be instructive and all of them have the potential to help us grow. It does not imply that everything will turn out the way we want it to; it does not mean that there won’t be challenges ahead of us. It means that there is a kernel of truth in all that happens to us and all that happens to us demands us to act.
So I am struggling with how to act as this Inauguration week breaks. I am back in front of a black and white TV. In my mind it is cold and the wind is blustering, biting into the sweet promise of the next four years. Not that all of the Presidential promises were sweet or that the person being inaugurated that day was the President of my choosing. There were those whose platforms filled me with skepticism and concern. But this time it isn’t only the platform. It is the very essence of the man, at least the one who shows up on my color HD screen. On my Facebook feeds my friends are telling me this moment is different. It is not just concern and skepticism; it is a game changer and we need to mobilize and be prepared.
I am trying hard not to panic. I will go to those pre and post inauguration gatherings but not to mourn; not to despair. I am going to try and use some of the lessons I learned in the Jewish spiritual discipline we call Mussar which suggests to us that how we react to the stimulus around us act as a mirror into our souls. So, I am looking at January 20th as a mirror with the Capitol as a backdrop. Who is the me reflected in the image? What does it say about my feelings and actions? I am pasting a sticky note on that mirror, (a blue one) with the word “trust” in Sharpie black. I am talking about trusting yourself and the process that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Don’t take that as a recipe for passivity.
I am going to double down on the way I approach the political process. More donations to the causes I believe in and see as threatened; more active engagement with those who supposedly represent me. I am now in the loyal opposition and it is challenging. It is scary. I wrote the week after the election that we would have to wait and hope that the office would make the man. We don’t have to wait much longer. The man has remained true to who he was. It is time for us to trust each other and ourselves and reach out hand in hand to restore and preserve a more compassionate America.