What Now? A Note on the Week After

The unthinkable, the despicable, the terrifying thing has happened.

So now what?

We are baffled. We are frustrated. We are disgusted. We are angry. And, yes, we are scared. But I can't see that any of these attitudes can help us much, either in our personal spiritual growth or in our attempts to change the political climate of our country.

Our job today is exactly what it has been all along. We need to steady and center ourselves in our own beliefs and values. We need to reach out in kinship and compassion to those folks around us who may or may not agree with us. We need to live our values and lead exemplary lives. And most important, we need keep hope and faith and trust alive in our hearts.

Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and prepare for the long haul. So many of us became politicized, excited and active in these past pre-election months. This earnest passion for positive change is precisely where we must begin. We cannot allow ourselves to go back to sleep, apathetic and dormant until six months before the next election. We have to realize that we are now engaged in training for a huge marathon. Sprinters need not apply.

Our first order of business must be to stay positive: To entertain only positive possibilities. To imagine only affirmative alternatives. To surround ourselves with uplifting, life-affirming people and influences. To align ourselves solely with the greater good so that our actions will be born of only the finest of our best intentions.

What we all have to do from now on is to stay alert, stay centered, stay involved. We need to keep connected and most important of all, keep talking. Talking, writing, protesting keeps the light of truth and tolerance shining upon the hidden agendas of governments, industries, institutions, organizations and individuals. Silence, like the dark of night, shelters nefarious deeds. Silence forgives violence.

As the signs in the NYC subway remind us, "If you see something, say something." We must be ever vigilant and allow no injustice, no aggression, no disrespect to pass without a loud protest. We must pay attention and respond ethically and empathetically to the hurts and needs of others, as well as those of the planet that supports us all. We must be the early responders.

The tortured words spoken by Martin Niemöller, a German Protestant minister after the downfall of the Nazi regime come to mind:

First they came for the Communists, but I wasn't a Communist so I didn't speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I didn't speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I wasn't a Jew so I didn't speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

In light of the widespread and growing oppression, manipulation, intimidation and abuse that surrounds us today, we most certainly need to say something. We need, in fact, to talk to everyone who we meet, to actually engage on a human level with all those who we encounter as we make it through our day. Not just our families, friends and colleagues - those of presumed like-minds - but the shoe repair guy, the waitress at the coffee shop, the post office clerk, the bag boy at the super market.

We need to walk our talk wherever we go, whatever we do, remembering always, that by doing so we do make a difference. Let us each be a sun, sending our caring energy out into the world, shedding light wherever we go. You never know who you might touch with the radiance of your warmth.

So let us awaken to the dawn of a new day, a new era, a brave new way of being in the world. This is just the beginning.

I send condolences for our democracy and a call to arms:

Uplifted arms bearing the torch of human kindness, inclusion, tolerance and peace.

Loving arms with which to embrace each other and all that we hold dear.

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