A Meditation by Anthony B. Robinson
Reprinted from http://www.anthonybrobinson.com/meditation.htm (Used with permission)
A friend sent a note last week asking if I had any advice about keeping our “chins up” in the present climate. I’ll start by acknowledging that some days my own chin has been anywhere but up. This is all pretty overwhelming. (Note the article/ link on the “Trump Unhappiness Effect,” at this week’s “What’s Tony Thinking?”)
But prompted by his request, I’ve pondered how to avoid getting stuck in the “slough of despond,” and offer the following (of which 5, 6, 7 and 9 are almost always my go-to for surviving stress):
First off, if you’re concerned, even worried — good, you should be. Denial, while always popular, is not always wise. Avoid denial. No need to pretend we aren’t in peril. We are. And there’s no way around this one but through.
That said, and second, maintain perspective. We’ve had bad presidents before. Avoid getting hooked by each story of fresh outrage or every mendacious tweet. Remember that there are more good people out there than we know — way more. And, in the words of the old hymn, “tho’ the wrong seem oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.” If there’s a lot at stake — and there is — this is also a time for a certain calm, albeit an active calm.
Third, discover ways to be engage in the cause of democracy and decency. The institutions and associations of civil society (churches, schools, libraries, the arts, neighborhood associations and political action groups) are always the strongest bulwark against totalitarians. Participate, volunteer, amp up donations, and send notes of encouragement to those fighting the good fight.
Fourth, seek understanding. There’s a lot of good analysis coming out. Too much really to keep up with. But here are three I have found especially helpful. Jan-Werner Muller’s book, “What Is Populism?” is the best I’ve read to understand the nature of what we’re up against. In addition, theologian Stanley Hauerwas’s piece in the Washington Post on Trump’s true faith. It is also important to try to understand those who do support Trump and the issues that concerned them, for there are legitimate issues. “Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right,” by Hochschild is one of several good books for this. Here’s a link to my review of “Strangers,”.
Fifth, humor helps. Whatever else one may say about this time, it is a motherlode for political cartoonists and satirical late night TV. Or host a joke evening/ party of your own. Everyone who comes, bring a joke to share. (I especially liked the poster that read, “2/3s of Trump’s Wives Have Been Immigrants, Proving Once Again that We Need Immigrants To Do Jobs No One Else Will Do”) Remember, the sure sign of idolatry/ of a false god — no laughter is allowed (an idea that applies to the political left as well as the right). If you are feeling especially grim, here’s a weird idea: stand in front of the mirror, smile and laugh at yourself.
Sixth, it’s always wise to pay attention to our ADL’s, or “activities of daily living.” Get enough sleep. Drink lots of water. Eat good food. Get regular exercise. And then go for a walk.
Seventh, practice the three “N’s,” which are “new,” “no” and “nurturing.” Do something new, something you’ve never done before which doesn’t have to be a huge thing. Peel off your shoes and socks and stick your feet in the wintry waters of the Puget Sound, for example. Say “no” occasionally, to some request, some ask, some demand. Say “no” to another hour of watching the news of the most recent outrages on the internet. Or do something nurturing to you. Listen to music. Go to a live show. Read an essay by E. B. White. Have coffee with a friend. Try to do at least one of the three “N’s” every day.
Eighth, remember that there’s a silver lining to the painful experience of disillusionment. If you’re disillusioned with the US of A, with voters, with fellow citizens, remember that dis-illusionment means you are giving up your illusions. Besides being closer to a true read of who and where we actually are, a clearer take on reality is giving new energy to causes, institutions and values about which we’ve too long been complacent. That can’t be a bad thing. see “Trump’s Golden Lining.”
Ninth, I try to do a daily (written) gratitude list of at least ten items. People, places, things, experiences, conditions for which I can be grateful. It keeps things in balance.
You’ll have other suggestions and ideas, things that are helpful to you, things you are working at. I’d love to hear them. Use this site’s contact form ( http://www.anthonybrobinson.com/contact.htm ) or post on Facebook to send yours along. Thanks. Tony.