How to atone for Trump, part one

Only recently have I experienced even a distant cousin of hope, but now I see that it has been accumulating somewhere in between my reactions to the awful foreground. 

First there was Rebecca Solnit who made the point, almost viral now, that the main ingredient for hope is uncertainty. Then there was a talk by a visiting teacher describing how nuns in a female monastery put their focus on their own ethical behavior instead of fighting the entrenched misogyny and oppression in the wider culture of Japan. Then Ryotan Sensei gave a penetrating talk on the precepts and drew attention to how we manifest right now, ethically, without knowing, without separating from any of the evil karma, taking responsibility for it all. And then I started to read Emergent Strategies, which applies complexity theory (in a very cheerful way!) to the movement.

It got me thinking about how, exactly, do we take responsibility for It All? At the VZ Open Mic recently, I decided to ask the question of the audience and got some great answers. I'm going to keep asking the question, and what I hear will be featured in my Dharma Talk on August 12th. For now, I'll sketch out the two categories of answers and invite you to comment. In the first were people who said that they can only work on their own karma, that including Trump would overwhelm them. In the second were people who took on the question of how their actions affect the whole, and each had a different way of expressing or understanding what they do. I found the entire conversation heartening and in keeping with my own brand of expression: getting people talking and playing with difficult dynamics. 

My understanding right now is that there is a potent if not visible connection between the work we do in our own sphere and what happens Out There, so whether you see it as your karma or their karma, it's the same work. Trump's angry and greedy policies must be stopped, but that is both not quite possible and also not enough. Yesterday I participated in the march to Keep Families Together in New York, and enjoyed the experience more than I usually do because I wasn't focussed on the apparent hopelessness of affecting the politicians but on the community I was with, the Buddhist Action Coalition. People were looking out for each other, offering suncreen, water, shade, encouragement, permission to leave if necessary, and the march leaders were modeling the same. Caring for each other strengthens the coalition that will rise up when capitalism crumbles or is brought down.

We also need to address 'othering' in our own communities--subtle misogyny and racism and ablism that play out in micro-interactions many times a day. I appreciate SURJ's intention to call in instead of call out. The person who speaks political incorrectivisms is one of us, even a Trumpite could be one of us one day. None of us knows enough about what goes on inside another group, so let's be curious and respectful. 

I gave an answer to my question, by the way. Atoning for family legacy, I read and embodied a poem by my mother on beauty and aging. 

Stay tuned, or chime in, but let's keep doing what we do and appreciate each other.

June 2018

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Reader Comments (2)

From Nina Shuka Klippel, via email, posted with permission by PsychoZen:

core idea I take from this is -- caring for each other -- essential!

and yes, Solnit - "what we dream of is already present in the world" and the mushroom metaphor:
"after a rain mushrooms appear on the surface of the earth as if from nowhere. Many do so from a sometimes vast underground fungus that remains invisible and largly unknown".

(of course, this underground fungus could also be all those folks who came out of the dark to support Trump....)

July 13, 2018 | Registered CommenterElena Taurke

From Sasha Taurke, via email, posted with permission by PsychoZen:

I am glad that you found some semblance of peace and satisfaction as you participated in political action against the current horror. It will be, unfortunately, expanding as the packing of the Supreme Court with super-right-wing justices will be complete when Trump selects his pick. This will reach far beyond Roe, which I doubt will be directly overturned, but will be severely restricted as all of the challenges to it churning up from the lower courts will now be joyfully approved by the new court. I am sure that it will also lead to restrictions in voting rights, labor rights, GLBT rights, rights of the poor to life, rights of all of us to health care, and so on. I am also sure that the rights of corporations, however, will be expanded.
Marching in protest is great, and greatly satisfying. However, unless these protests are in places where they count, like Suzan Collins’ Maine, or Rubio’s Florida, or at the Senate and the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., they will remain important expressions of sentiment, but will not be decisive.
Winning the Senate and the House of Representatives, and then the presidency will be decisive.
For that, all of us need to contribute time and money.
Time to volunteer at phone banks and canvasses of our political party, or, if you don’t want to trust any political party, then at least at the many political groups that formed after Trump’s fraudulent election, or after Obama’s, like Organizing for America and such.
And contribute money to candidates, and not necessarily to those who are sure to win, but to those who really need funds. Starting with those recommended by Emily’s List would not be bad. And even to those (yes, conservative) Democrats who are vulnerable, like North Dacota’s Heidi Heitkamp.
Of course, once you start contributing, you will be hounded forever by unceasing requests for time and, particularly, money. Our phone is ringing off the hook now that the campaign season is here.
But perhaps that is a small price to pay for freedom.

July 13, 2018 | Registered CommenterElena Taurke

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