It’s amazing how life can knock the wind out of you, leave you flattened and gasping for breath.
A lot of us feel that way after November 8th. Ten days now and this might be the first day I’ve felt even remotely normal.
It’s the new normal, of course. When the wind knocks something down it can’t be set back up in precisely the same way again. Then again, a Greek philosopher once said we can never step in the same river twice: from moment to moment we are different people, and the river continually flows with new water.
But that feeling is also a truth: there are moments for all of us that define a “before” and an “after”. For many of us November 8th will be one of those dates. Still, in the new Now most of the old truths hold steady. We have to feed the kids. Feed the dog. Feed the chickens.
Feed the hungry.
Run the laundry. Wash the dishes. Fold the clothes.
Clothe the shivering.
Call the parents. Visit the neighbors. Comfort the crying child.
Comfort the sick. Visit the prisoner. Call the senator.
There is no work to be done that did not need doing Before. We woke up not into a world that had changed but to our own sense of urgency. Moments that knock our breaths out of our bodies are in reality little Apocalypses, a now-scary word that really only means “unveiling”. We now realize something we didn’t before, that our national priorities are radically disunified, that we are not hearing voices that need to be heard, that what we thought was safe needs active and engaged protecting. That we are not communicating what we need to express. And yes, that there is more fear and pain and hatred out there than many of us realized.
As with all little deaths, as with all realizations great and small, we have two choices now. We can sleep. Or we can rise.
We can rise up in Truth and Love, we can take this awareness and build something with it. But whatever we build must be built in both Truth and Love or it will be built out of sand.
Notice I said “Truth”. I said “Love”. I didn’t say “Nice”. Politeness is nowhere here mentioned. We confuse these things in our culture: we smear the difference between the True and the Nice, between Love, which is sacrificial and hard and messy and sometimes very very blunt, and Polite, which ignores truth in favor of just keeping the peace long enough to get home. Nice and Polite have their place: they’re essential to life in a crowded society. But they’re paint and fabric. You cannot build with them.
They’re the trimmings that decorate a functioning society.
And that it what we clearly don’t have.
We’ve spent our ten days mourning. The alarm clock is going off.
Time to rise.