Mystic Mondays June 6, 2016
I was re-reading my post from last week (A Trump Exorcism) after mulling over a handful of comments that were posted in response. As I came toward the end of my post I read again the words, “I want my soul to feel clean again.” While the prior post certainly had a great deal to do with Trump the reality is that post was really about me. I was struggling with two extreme responses to Trump–red-faced anger at moments and a yoga-like calmness in other moments. In other words, an over-engagement and an under-engagement.
I appreciated the many comments. They mirrored much of what I was feeling but also inserted the reminder of what our faith or spiritual values call us to do. Those reminders were actually at the core of what my post was about, but didn’t name outright. The whole premise of “wanting Trump out of my body” was my frustration that I couldn’t seem to find an action or response that lived up to my faith. My faith both called for me to do something (more than voting) and to accept gracefully the limits of what I could do (called voting).
Neither were quite satisfying. I was uncomfortable with where my primitive red-faced anger was taking me. I imagined joining protesters if Trump just happened to come to town. But given my proximity to a computer and my love of writing most of my thoughts were finding expression in a whole range of satirical posts and attempts to beat Trump at his own game. I was trying to find some way to out him as if I was involved in a chess match with him. Even though I gave some time to those possibilities I usually thought better of it. I knew that I was just giving expression to my anger and frustration. I knew in the end my devilish thoughts would do no good.
But the alternative was dissatisfying as well. I have a daily yoga and journaling practice in the mornings that I am nearly obsessive about. I rarely miss a day and even family and friends have learned that first hour or so of the morning is off limits to chit chat. In that time I often discover a yoga-like disposition. Despite the chaos of our current political circus I can find a grounded place that keeps me from flying off the handle (at least in public!).
I ended my post last week saying that “I want my soul to feel clean again.” That post was really about me. I am trying to find a response that makes my soul feel good. My dilemma is this: To simply act out my anger at how I feel our process has been hijacked puts me in a camp that is no better than this person who is fueling the fire of an angry American electorate. But to disengage in an attempt at personal soul preservation also feels irresponsible.
This evening I stopped at a rural convenience store after a punishing hill climb on my bike in the Coastal Mountains. The conversation between the woman clerk and the male customer ahead of me in line didn’t sound quite right. As his transaction was being completed I heard him berate her with some colorful language while she said over and over again, “Thank you sir. Enjoy your evening” in an attempt to get him out the door. He finally did exit, leaving a trail of expletives in his wake.
I bought my cold refreshing Coke to cleanse my sticky dry mouth and headed toward my own car. Suddenly the man went back in. I knew exactly what was happening. He had waited for me to leave. Now the woman was alone in the store and he was returning with some sort of evil intent. I didn’t know what he was capable of, but it had danger written on it. I hopped back out of my car and casually moseyed back to the front of the store where I could both see what was taking place and hear the tone of their conversation. There were a few “horse shits” thrown her direction. The woman held her ground. The man eventually left, but not before trying to bait me into saying something that would give him permission to unleash his rage on me.
I thought about this event in relation to my seeking a good response to the Trump phenomenon. I realized that in this situation I found the wise balance between immediately taking this guy down and likely escalating the situation. Or driving off with the excuse, “It’s not really my problem.” I didn’t over-engage, but I also didn’t disengage. Both extremes might have ended with blood on my hands.
This is what I am looking for with regard to our current political drama. I want to be engaged without being reactionary. And I want my soul to feel clean without feeling like I have disengaged. Like the scene with the woman in the store, it feels to me as if the stakes are high. Over-engaging and under-engaging both have their risks. I want to get it right. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.