| Anne Williamson |
This has been a tough year. And, the past two and a half weeks have ached in a way I perhaps haven’t yet experienced. It’s not just that as a woman I feel rejected and widely unseen. Or, that as a sister, friend and ally, I cry for the pain and fear my Muslim, immigrant, people of color, and LGBTQ human family is experiencing. Or, the worry I feel for Mother Earth. And, it’s not even just that I am afraid. I was afraid after 09.11. It’s that I’m starting to doubt whether this grand melting pot experiment called America is going to work. Our nation feels divided and to quote Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
So, I’ve been asking, “What do I do now? What do we do now?” And, honestly, I’m still sorting this out. I’m not entirely sure. But, two things are bubbling to the surface.
First, we listen to one another – deeply – and seek understanding. This is not going to be easy. To do this in the way our country needs is going to require patience, humble self-examination, courage and ultimately, forgiveness. And, white (largely Christian) folks, male folks, educated folks, to quote the title of an excellent blog post, it’s going to mean coming to know that “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” This is going to be hard, but it’s possible.
Recently, a WAYfinding friend re-introduced me to the word dignity. I immediately welled up. I knew in an instant this is what this election was about. People on both sides, wondering, aggressively asking each other, “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Am I counted in your eyes?” And, yes, sometimes the questioning is misguided; again, for the privileged, equality feels like oppression. But, calling this out without also acknowledging the fear and pain underneath gets us nowhere. Empathy is not a zero-sum game. It’s imbalanced and deeply unfair at times, but it’s what compassion requires of us.
Second, we have to root our own dignity in something deeper than our lower-case self, various identities, other people’s ignorance, or, for literally the love of g/God, social media. Through the practices, traditions and rituals that have always worked for us – or through discovering new ones – we have to remind ourselves daily, by rooting ourselves deeply, that our worth is a g/Given. This is the only way we come together. This is the only way we talk with egos down. This is the only way to sustain ourselves in the work of loving resistance.
Dignity, as a question, asks, “Am I worthy? Am I worthy of your love and respect? Am I?” Our ability to answer this question in the affirmative for ALL people – and ALL creation – will determine whether this country we love rises to a higher consciousness or falls. To allow Lincoln to continue, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.” I hope so. I am hopeful because, I believe, when we ask, “Am I worthy? Am I?” there is a larger truth – call it g/God, call it Collective Consciousness, call it whatever you want – that answered centuries ago and answers still, “I am.”
Sunday, December 11th, I'll offer a fuller description; but generally, this winter we're going to discuss dignity. What does it mean? How do we ask for it? In ways misguided and heartbreaking, but also humble, proud, beautiful. We'll take a deep look at the people who are feeling their dignity chipped away at - for the first time or millionth time: Women. Men. Immigrants. Muslims. Native Americans. Blue collar workers. People of color. LGBTQ. And, as we go, we're going to root ourselves in our something d/Deeper. Our topics will be both practical and theological because it is our beliefs that keep us stuck or elevate our consciousness.
I hope you'll add your voice! More than ever we need everyone. Sign ups begin Tuesday, December 13th at noon.
| Anne Williamson |