“Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”~Rudyard Kipling (‘If’).
My father used to hate crowded places. He did not go happily (if he went at all) to fairs or festivals, crowds of people and loud noises. I tend to react the same way to multiple people talking at the same time, it seems confusing and nonproductive. Not to mention it tests your hearing and is potentially headache producing. This week there has been much that is vexatious and troubling to watch as politics is displayed in all its ugliness on the TV screen.
But if you have friends to talk you down when you want to jump to try to escape the negativity and vitriol that is pouring out of the TV screen, and if you can hold on long enough, you may catch the karma as it comes around the corner. Some people choose to turn away, to change the channel, but I find myself drawn to the screen like a moth to a flame. This week we were entertained by trump’s wife 3.0 as she performed admirably, reading a well-crafted speech. Unfortunately the discovery that it was actually Michelle Obama’s personal and powerful rhetoric that had been purloined and inserted into said speech, detracted from the poor lady’s moment in the spotlight. Teachers everywhere are cheering. Finally, we have a living example of what happens when you lift whole lines of words from another person’s work.
By the last night of the convention I had reached my limit, and could not pay attention, unable any more to tolerate the fake symbols of diversity and tolerance (such hypocrisy) and the empty promises and lies. When we were children we heard the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. It seemed inconceivable that it would be possible to walk around naked and have crowds of people all convinced of the same lie, all buying into the delusion of seeing a beautifully clad King. Yet we have seen it at work. Throngs of people who suspend disbelief, and go along with the self-serving narrative that ignores reality. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic, if the potential for doing lasting and far-reaching damage was not so immense.
Fortunately for most of us, we have other life events to distract us and occupy our time. Our everyday life is full of positive energy, of connections to others. In our own worlds we are checking in on neighbors recently discharged from the hospital; we are going to school events and ball games; we are regular folks whose lives intersect with other regular folks. Last Saturday I celebrated with a friend who turned 40 (Gasp!). The night before had been a party for another friend’s twin granddaughters (Sweet Sixteen!). That party had followed my college’s annual graduation ceremony. In each of those events I was surrounded by people of different cultures, who all live in harmony in these United States of America.
We are not as divided and different as some would have us believe. I saw a video of a beautiful piece of living art recently. Nancy Belmont, whose work focuses on promoting ‘human flourishing and authenticity’ created a project with 32 poles arranged in concentric circles, each one with a label, such as ‘I am a parent’; ‘My parents are immigrants’; ‘I live with a chronic illness’ and many more. She then had participants wrap yarn around the center pole, then any other post that they identified with. In the end over 1500 people had demonstrated their interconnectedness with others, and created a beautiful spider’s web. We are more alike than we are different.
My message this morning is of hope and courage in the face of hate and negativity. It is tempting to believe the vision portrayed on the TV, but the cameras are drawn to the spectacle, to that which entertains even as it horrifies. Sometimes we need to tune it out, to remind ourselves that we are better than that; we do not have to be consumed by the mob mentality.
This morning I am thinking about connections and promises as my eldest son and his fiancée get ready to tie the knot in a simple ceremony of commitment. We have to remember the important things of life, and keep our perspective. There are times when we are immersed in the stress and the drama of daily challenges, and forget that most of these are passing; that they are designed to test our mettle. If we can keep our head when all around are losing theirs…..The poem by Rudyard Kipling was written over 100 years ago, but sounds true today. ‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same;’ Quite a challenge indeed!
So this Friday morning, let us resolve to demonstrate calm and level heads in the face of divisive and outrageous speech. Let us continue to care for each other, to reach out to people in need, without regard to labels that society chooses to place on ‘others’. Let us celebrate our common humanity, and our connectedness. Let us choose unity and harmony over anger and hate.
Have a wonderful weekend Family!