Well, here we are, the day after – time to lick our wounds, hug our neighbors and get a move on. I, for one, just put on my cowboy boots.
So, here’s my question: How do we begin to move beyond the divisive politics, language and hurt so evident in our beloved country?
While the standard view of reality is that events influence how we feel, the truth is, how we feel creates reality. This simple yet profound idea is the core basis of an articulated spirituality. Identity politics misses this truth in a BIG way. It is not just the angry white man — it is also the anxiety fueled elite, the cynical millennials, the frustrated yogi’s, the victimized, the lonely, the sad, the bullied, the egotists, etc. who influenced this result. Our twisted emotional life led to this moment of collective responsibility.
If you feel lousy this morning, you need to take a good hard look at yourself. It’s not Hillary’s fault or Donald’s. It’s not your neighbors, your employers, your teachers or your friends’ responsibility.
Taking responsibility for the way you feel this morning is the first step toward recovery.
One of the many things I have been reflecting on this morning is the philosophical underpinnings of our constitution. To be exact, I have been thinking about the connection between “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. Three lofty goals eloquently expressed by our founding fathers. Freedom envisioned as a derivative of our willingness to participate in the government of affairs. Individual happiness is the result of the exercise of that personal freedom. That idealism rested on the premise of collective responsibility for the care and nurturance of our rights, institutions and our own sense of personal well-being. Seriously, hear me out, this is important — the American brand of happiness is literally founded on the principle of engagement.
So, what happened? Well, I would argue we all got pretty darn wrapped up in ourselves, we lost touch with each other and we failed to articulate common goals for a fair and just society. As Robert Bellah argues in his book, Habits of the Heart: “We have committed what to the founders of our nation was the cardinal sin: we have put our own good, as individuals, as groups, as a nation, ahead of the common good.” The American dream became a private dream of personal satisfaction. The ironic consequence of the pursuit of this dream is the empty feeling of loneliness our “success” actually manifests. In the end, pursuing individual goals without respect to the common good leaves many of us feeling detached, isolated and unhappy.
The irony, of course, is that we live in a vastly more interrelated and integrated world – economically, technically, functionally – and yet, most of us do not seem to know how to articulate why our lives are morally related to others. We do not think about how our words echo and our actions sting. Importantly, we do not take responsibility for the way our feelings reverberate throughout the atmosphere.
Our behavior is a direct reflection of how we feel. The better we feel, the better we act. The better we act, the better our world becomes. As participating co-creators of reality, we ourselves must take responsibility for ourselves and others by behaving out of a space of well-being and contentment. Shaping new frameworks for thinking, compassion and kindness will take time.
How do we begin to feel better? We meditate. Meditation brings back to us coordination of mind and heart. It is in the transcendent that we unite all the fragmented pieces of ourselves into something whole. We come out of meditation feeling reinvigorated, grounded and full of being. Our rested minds feel less emotionally turbulent. Our behavior reflects this serenity. Ultimately, unity in our country will be enhanced when supported by clear, unencumbered minds.
In the end, perhaps, our future will depend not so much on solitary leadership but collective commitment to ourselves and each other. Regaining our footing will require reaching out to each other with trust and a renewed sense of responsibility. We must heal our own hearts. In doing so, we will grow the energy and courage to reach out to others. We will expand our compassion and relinquish our stubborn detachment from others. Finally, our collective healing will return us to the roots of our philosophical ambitions and allow us to “live” the truth of our constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I, for one, am ready for the challenge. Today is beginning to feel less like a disaster and more like an opportunity. Let’s all get some much needed rest. As Scarlet O’Hara famously proclaimed, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”
~ Molly Beauregard