As I feel more sure about the outcome of the presidential elections in the U.S., I am still uneasy about the aftermath. I had one scared child in my house last night. He loves following politics. He is frightened for our country. He is also frightened by where we live, in New Orleans. Violent crime is high here, and in the last two weeks, two of those violent crimes took place one block from our usually quiet street. I am not as unsettled by the events close to home, as they seem to have been targeted crimes, but gunshots before bedtime are not comforting in any way.
I am considering voting early and leaving the country for a few days, just to see how it settles out. I have suppressed my civil disobedience a million times, during my 20 years as a military spouse. There were a lot of things I didn’t agree with. I wish I would have thought to take a knee or sit through the national anthem when my husband’s sexual-predator-commanding-officer was leading or part of a ceremony.
I can’t change the past, but I can heal it. One of my favorite beliefs from traditional cultures is that when you heal yourself, you heal seven generations forward and seven generations back. I believe the effect is much bigger than this. I prefer to use quantum physics as a model for how healing works, and that time doesn’t exist. As we heal ourselves, and it ripples out in all directions or causes changes in seemingly unrelated and far-away particles, we use the construct of the past, the present, and the future to help ourselves understand it more easily.
Spiritual beliefs and big thoughts aside, what are some tangible ways we can come together and heal the shadow side of ourselves that has come through so clearly in this election process?
- Forgiveness: I think culturally we have a limited definition of forgiveness. To me, it doesn’t mean to forget or to let yourself violated again. Forgiveness means having compassion that everyone is living their lives to the best of their ability at the moment. We could all do things better, and we are all doing our best with the tools we have. Immaculée Iligabiza, the author of Left to Tell, is often on my mind. Her ability to survive the Rwandan genocide and forgive the perpetrators is remarkable. How did she do it? Through her Catholic lens, she came to see them at the soul level, and as children who “know not what they do.” It doesn’t take religion to explain the process. Her experience is also easily seen through Martha Beck’s Four Technologies of Magic: Wordlessness, Oneness, Imagination, and Forming.
- Awe: Perhaps what Iligabiza’s story does for me is leave me in awe, and awe has some physiological benefits, including reduced inflammation. Seeing ourselves through the eyes of a creator, or source energy can help with this. In the series Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson says that if we looked at the universe as a one-year calendar, humans showed up at 11:58 pm on December 31. That makes me feel a deep sense of awe.
- Claim your awesomeness: I love Amy Cuddy’s research in power-posing. To claim your awesomeness, you can stand like Wonder Woman for two minutes. I periodically check that I have my (metaphorical) crown on straight and my cape spread fully. I used this visualization to get rid of my chronic left hip pain. I was letting other people determine my self-worth, instead of standing fully in my awesomeness.
- Elevate the conversation: One way to “go high” when someone else “goes low” is to move into what Judith Glaser calls Level 3 Conversations. Level 1 is all about giving orders. Level 2 is about attaining a power position through inquiry and exchange. Level 3 is about sharing and discovering. Spending some time learning about each other, and the realities we have created for ourselves could go a long way toward healing our addictions to being right and developing solutions that benefit everyone.
- Be the thermostat, not the thermometer: I am making a choice to envelop everyone I can into my highest vibrations, my most positive, creative, and loving energies. I desire a positive, co-creative world and I will not be swayed by extreme heat or extreme cold. I get to set the temperature. People that don’t fit this paradigm tend not to come near me. The ones that do often feel better for the interaction we had. I choose to hang out and co-create with other thermostats as well. Sometimes my dial gets spun down a bit, but as I have practiced this, I have developed a pleasant steadiness, where I rarely go low and am able to elevate the energy of a room around me as I desire.
Whew! I already feel less like I need to skip town (or the country) for the elections. What will you do to co-create unity in our country?