In the Winter of Peril

“Conflict is seductive- navigate it consciously.”  Lee Harris

So fellow travelers, one week ago here in the United States, new leadership took charge of our country, and in the week since I have become gradually aware of waking up with a growing sense of relief and a marked absence of background anxiety, even as we begin to navigate what President Biden calls our “Winter of Peril”

Not that this shift in leadership means a herd of magical unicorns will bring rainbows of namaste that “heals our country.” Given the backlash I’ve seen so far, a herd of enlightened T-Rexs might be more useful. (Yes I know that is a triceratops in the photo- but come on- have you ever tried to get a T-Rex to stop roaring long enough to take it’s photo? )

Hyperbole aside,  that backlash has done it’s best to reinstate the anxiety created by the trauma of being, as I referenced in my previous post,  “held hostage” for four years. I have struggled to find the balance point between judgement and compassion. While recognizing the intricacies of what forensic psychologists refer to as “shared psychosis” it is still difficult to dig up compassion for people still posting vitriolic comments in response to posts my friends have shared. My own social media feed is fairly calm mainly because I have zero tolerance for BS. Civil discourse on differing opinions are welcome, everything else gets deleted and persistent purveyors of misinformation are unfollowed.
Understanding why  “people who harbor delusional narratives tend to bulldoze over reality in their attempt to deny that their own narrative is false,” ( Scientific American ) has not given rise to the level of compassion I have come to expect of myself.  The best choice I can make right now is to disengage from the irrational diatribe, at least until I have more clarity on how to engage without escalating anger.  So, I will, as a personal mentor recently recommended,  simply “stay in my lane” for a while and draw inspiration from the words of Rev. Silvester Beaman’s inaugural benediction*, “In discovering our humanity, we will seek the good in and for our neighbors, we will love the unlovable, remove the stigma of the so called untouchables, (and) we will care  for our most vulnerable…. Neither shall we learn hatred anymore…”

Walk gently on the path my friends and may Peace settle in our hearts

 Note: *Rev. Beaman’s prayer is well worth hearing in its entirety. Listen to it here


So fellow travelers, thirteen days ago, at precisely the same time as the clock above my desk shows right now, I was working on a new blog post when my phone started “pinging” with notifications. Determined to focus on writing, I resisted the temptation to pick it up, but then I heard my husband, who was on his lunch break say something. Although I could not discern exactly what he said, the urgency in his voice was unmistakable, so I went downstairs to see what was going on.

Much like this image I shot on a hike last week, at first, I could not make sense of what I saw on the large flat screen TV which dominates the far end of our living room.

When I realized what was happening on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, a switch somewhere deep in my brain flipped on.

It was not until later in the day that a comment from my husband helped me realize what the events on Capitol Hill had triggered in my brain.

I  was  living in the Philippines when President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on September 23, 1972. It left an indelible impression on my teenage psyche. Since then I have, as my friend Tom Atkins so aptly said in a recent post, tried to “extract sanity from madness.”  In the end, I had to accept that the intensity of my emotional response exhausted my capacity to remain engaged. At which point I am once again reminded that “disengaging” is, in fact, a privilege – one which friends who are BLPOC or survivors of abusive relationships do not have. Yet I cannot provide support or reassurance when my own well of faith is empty. 

So I have spent these days leading up to tomorrow’s Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in deep contemplation, because I know everything we react to externally is a reflection of something within ourselves. I have searched deep into myself to uncover what conflicts are raging, what fuels the fire of my intense anger and why judgment of others has overridden my innately compassionate nature.(Photo of a contemplative sanctuary on the lake trail)

For four years I have felt as if we were being held hostage by a madman, and yes I felt that coming well before the events that exploded on January 6th. I felt increasingly betrayed by those in power who enabled this to escalate and I felt helpless. The more events reinforced that feeling of helplessness and betrayal, the angrier I became. This is the same mindset (albeit for different reasons) of those who violently opposed the Congressional vote on January 6th with one crucial difference-the choice to resort to violence and act with full intent to bring harm to others. 
Our choices always have consequences. The attack cost six people their lives, many more were injured. Accountability is a cornerstone of equitable justice and it has been shamefully scarce in our country’s history when dealing with racism. January 6, 2020 will be forever earmarked as a day of our reckoning for that lack. For that, at least, I am genuinely grateful.
This country has been exposed as anything but “great again.” The effects of allowing racism to run largely unchecked finally hit a broad enough target to expose America’s “greatness” as a myth created by white washing the pervasive and growing inequalities inherent in “the American Way.”
And yet, there is hope it has also generated enough forward momentum to enact lasting change. That’s not going to happen overnight, nor even within four years, but for the first time since January 20, 2016, we will be free again to embrace the potential of a more equitable and justice future for all, not just some, Americans.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way