The Jewish mystic, Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav told a story about a king who discovered that the current year’s grain supply was tainted and would make the whole country go insane. There was only enough of the prior year’s grain to sustain himself and his vizier. When he discussed this with this learned advisor, the vizier told the King, “but if we are the only ones sane then we will be perceived as the crazy ones so we’ll be the ones in an asylum. Better we too eat the tainted grain. But let us put a mark upon each other’s brow, so that at least when we see this mark, we will remember that we are insane.”
These last four years it seems we have all lost our minds. I will not get into debates with those who support the current administration. We are not living in the same realities and so we will not convince each other. But I do mourn what has been lost in this madness. Civility, Compassion, Kindness.
How did we go from a country of we to a country of me. Even 5 years ago, did anyone anticipate fellow citizens walking into grocery stores toting AR-15s, let alone threatening to assassinate duly elected governors? It is not even just red vs blue anymore, but on both sides, there are some who say others on the same side have sold out, aren’t committed enough; unless you’re all in then you’re out.
Rebbe Nachman didn’t tell us what happened after the year of insanity. How did the kingdom find its way back to a sense of whole and healing community? There are those who fear that regardless of the outcome on Nov 3, between now and inauguration day things will only get worse. Maybe that is true.
Or maybe, the world had to turn a bit upside down so that we could let go of old paradigms. We are in a moment of reckoning, no matter which side of the sociopolitical spectrum we inhabit. Collectively we are tainted with trauma. Trauma response disengages our ability to think, we can only react, out of our fear.
The spiritual traditions, the world over, tell us that there really are only two choices – fear or love. Fear leads to tribalism and dogma (both religious and political). Love invites hope, curiosity, and bridge building. And the deepest form of love is compassion. The Golden Rule may be said slightly differently in each of the world’s religions, but they all has the same bottom line; don’t do to someone else what you would not want done to you.
Our country and our world are in desperate need of compassion right now, if we are to step away from the madness of our divisiveness. We have forgotten that each one of us is an image of the Divine, in all of Gd’s prismatic glory. No one of us has the full picture of our neighbor, let alone the sole truth about that Source which is known by many names and by no name. We are each granted a piece – and through compassion, we can share our individual truths with one another. Rather than blasting our fear (hidden in the form of anger) at one another, what if we could hold each other with compassion, so that in our vulnerability we can speak our fear and hear love in return?
There are nine days until the election. Let them be days of prayer. Not prayers of tribalism, but prayers of compassion – for ourselves and for one another. And if the word prayer doesn’t work for you, consider this. Whether prayer, sending light, energy, or affirmations, science is now proving the power of our words to change the worlds, on quantum physics levels as well as within our own psyches (which means soul.) And from a trauma perspective, mantras, chants, prayers all help to regulate our breathing and open us to calming, fostering peace and resiliency.
Let us pray, Source Divine, that you will lift the madness, anger and fear from each of our hearts and minds, and fill us with Your Compassion. Help us to see Your Beauty in the eyes of those we disagree with. Shelter in compassion those many who are struggling to survive, financially, as well as with illness. Bring compassion to all for the brown children in cages and the black children on our cities’ streets. Bring compassion to those who fear for their safety. And bring compassion to those who would serve as our political representatives, that we may find compassionate ways to support the well-being of every person within this divided country.
I invite you to join me in prayer, each day, opening ourselves up to both receiving and giving compassion, that we might heal our country and ourselves. Then on election day, I invite those local to give yourself the gift of walking the labyrinth – mine or another – socially distanced of course. With each step let us manifest compassion for our nation, for those we care about, for those with whom we only see opposition, and for ourselves.