“Between stimulus and response there’s a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Victor Frankl
This is a really intense and emotional time in the USA. A large number of people are truly afraid and angry; and have good reason to be fearful for the lives of minorities and angry over false accusations and threats to eliminate freedoms.
Fear and Anger are emotions that carry a huge charge. They are emotions that trigger reaction, and the gut reaction is to look for confirmation of our fears and attack back. But that’s the reaction that got us into the mess we are in right now. The thinking that created the mess cannot fix it.
If we want our nation back so that we can continue to progress towards greater safety and freedom for all, we will have to do so in way that doesn’t include fear, anger, hate, or violence. This is not an easy thing to do because it requires the strength and courage to act rather than react.
The majority of people in our nation are progressive. Now is the time for us to build the strength and courage required to act out of calm compassion rather than out of fear and anger, so we can bring our progressive values back to our country. I’m not saying not to feel fear and anger — you feel what you feel. And when you do feel fear and anger, STOP.
Take a breath. Sit down. Wait. Emotions are waves. They come from the distance, growing larger and more fearsome. They slam into you and fall over you and you are for a time under the waters of the strong currents of emotion. Then the wave passes. You can stand up, shake off, and look around to see calmer waters.
In the calmer waters, you can plan how to act.
Here’s an example. When you see the latest hate note spreading around on social media, STOP. Breathe. DON’T post your initial response. Put the computer aside and wait. Feel the Fear — what if you, or someone you know and love is threatened or attacked? Feel the Anger — it is not okay that hate and discrimination won in this election. It is not okay that people are threatening others with impunity. It is not okay that the rights and freedoms we’ve worked so hard for may be taken away. Let yourself feel these emotions, but wait them out.
Breathe. Remember that our country (and the world) has a very long history of hate and violence. Remember that we have a long history of people fighting against that hate and violence. Remember that you are a fighter. Remember that you DO have power and that you WILL use it. Breathe. Resolve to act rather than react.
Now. Write to your State and Federal government representatives. Tell them this behavior is not okay. Ask them to stand up and publicly condemn such behavior. Ask them to set up crisis support for those who are being attacked.
Now. Go introduce yourself to your neighbors who have dark skin, an alternate lifestyle, or are women living alone. Give them your number and tell them that if they ever feel threatened to contact you, because you will stand with them.
Now. Take a bold, progressive action like this every day between now and the 2018 elections. THIS is how we will take our country back. THIS is how we will reestablish our values of freedom and safety for all humans, regardless of race, gender, or sexual, political, or religious orientation.