I keep getting emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and from a variety of groups. While each missive has its own take on the campaign or on a particular issue, there is one disturbingly consistent theme running through them all: Fight Against (Insert Cause Here). Somehow, these folks believe, and ask us to join them in demonstrating, that anger and resistance will help their cause.
From this Cranky Little Old White Lady’s standpoint, that’s all wrong. Fighting is the last thing we need to do.
For one thing, I have spent the past three days in downtown Cleveland. I had a great time. I met some wonderful people. And some who insisted not only in telling me that I was wrong, but in letting me know in very graphic terms exactly what the cost of my wrongdoing would be. Sure didn’t make me want to stop my wickedness and join them. Hate isn’t my turn-on.
Buddha said it best 3,000 years ago: That which you resist persists. It’s a variation on “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.” Mother Teresa said she would never attend an anti-war rally, but she would show up at a peace rally.
Isometric exercises involve pushing one part of the body against another or against something immovable in the expectation that stronger muscles will result. In this case, that which you resist becomes stronger. I’ve read of experiments with kids where each was handed one end of a piece of rope. With no prompting from adults, these kids somehow intuited that the object of holding the rope was to pull against the other person. The minute one kid pulls, the other automatically resists. And vice versa. Voila: With no encouragement, two people who don’t know each other will try to vanquish the other. How to end it? Drop the rope.
That’s all well and good, you say, but we’re talking about REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF here. The Future of our Democracy. The. End. Of. Civilization. As. We. Know. It.
I get it. I am no less worried than you about what’s going on in this country. That’s why I started this blog. However, I am more worried about falling into a mind set that plays into the hands of those we wish to weaken.
Two things come to mind: First, it keeps us thinking negatively. That’s not a place I want my mind to dwell. Those who would steal our beloved country have scads more practice at thinking and planning and anticipating “The Fight” than we do. Going toe-to-toe only plays into their hands, and our equipment isn’t up to snuff.
Second, and more important, is that such thinking feeds bad juju. Science is becoming clearer that thoughts are things. The ideas and energy we put into the world will turn up again in some way. If we dwell on negative ideas, those ideas will continue to manifest. And the reverse is true: If we focus on positive thoughts, good things will show up. That’s not being Pollyanna, that’s being scientific.
Are there alternatives to fighting? Mahatma Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson Mandela. Jesus. These great spiritual figures taught us that love, and only love can, conquer hate. It was, at least for a time, a very effective way to protest the Vietnam War and, I believe, contributed to its end. (Of course, exposure of the lies that underpinned that war helped.) Does it work? Indians are independent. We have the Civil Rights Act (for a time longer, at least). Apartheid is ended, and Nelson Mandela is a beloved world figure because he found a way to move people ahead without violence.
I’m not saying there wasn’t violence involved in those pivotal epochs. Ask Jesus. He knows about violence. Still, those monumental events were not ended by war. Their leaders did not lead armed forces. They led people armed with ideas: Freedom. Justice. Peace. Love.
Thousands lost their lives in those struggles. That’s what happens when power is confronted with weapons the powerful do not have. They resort to violence because that is what they know best.
Some of us may not come out of this unscathed. I’d like to think my little white head would keep someone from taking violent exception to my words and actions, but there are no guarantees. And after what I’ve seen in Cleveland this week, there are some who would delight in making an example of this cranky little old white lady. Still, I understand that reaching beyond personal comfort zones into the realm of the soul can make a person feel vulnerable. And for many people, that’s a dangerous place to be. To them, a good offense becomes a great defense.
I have not forgotten World Wars I or II. My dad and uncle both were Marines in the Pacific. In that case, I believe Germans and Italians saw the dangers posed by Hitler and Mussolini but most of them just couldn’t believe these people were as dangerous as they turned out to be. And so things went too far. Once the killing began, there was no choice. A soldier either kills or is killed. In this case, we had to meet violence with violence.
I don’t have the answer to the glut of mass shootings. I do know that carrying more guns is not the solution.
I am asking anyone who shares my view that a Trump presidency would be a global disaster to please stop fighting. It’s not about what we are against, it is about what we are for. Search your heart and then work for that. Start talking with people. Find a way to have someone tell you his/her story. Sit down and search for commonality rather than difference. Show your humanity to that person and become human in their eyes. It could win a heart. If we win enough hearts, we can do this thing.