Many friends have been disturbed by the recent political election. Thich Nhat Hanh gives me some perspective to see more clearly, to calm mind and feelings, to act with love and compassion. He suggests that “Every time you have a presidential election, you think in terms of Democrats and Republicans, and you take a side. You suffer or you are happy because one party wins or loses. But, if we look more deeply we see that the two parties are made of each other and have a lot of things in common. The success of one party is made of the lack of success of the other party.” (Mindfulness Bell, Autumn 2016)
He is telling us that we are all part of one whole, that we “inter-are.” Our thinking in opposites (right/left, bad/good, wrong/right) is not the whole picture of reality and brings us much suffering. My suffering came in the form of disbelief, shock, fear and anger, a desire to change the great suffering that will come of this decision. However, I cannot live in fear and anger for more than a few moments without increasing the suffering in myself and my world. I remembered Thay’s teaching on Inter-being, that we are not separate from one another, my friends simply identified as “left, right, good” and the president-elect as “right, wrong and bad.” We inter-are and all had something to do with the conditions that brought about the results of this election.
On a practical level I need to stay calm, to reach out to my neighbors, friends and strangers who are suffering. I can assure them that I will continue to practice, to come back to the present moment where we are still alive, capable of compassion and love for one another. I am sticking close to my spiritual communities, listening as deeply as possible, trying to respond with courage to do the things I can see and do, one day at a time.