The night of the election I went to bed with pit in my stomach, feeling nausea, upset that a man with such hateful rhetoric could be elected as the leader of this country. I vowed to go to yoga before work, in effort “shake off” this feeling. I awoke before my alarm, still buzzing with anxiety and feeling physically ill, and prepared for my yoga class and to sneak out of the house before anyone woke up. My two year old had different plans, he woke up unusually early and decided he needed “mama milk”. The times he nurses now, are becoming fewer, so I lingered a bit, still hoping to get my yoga class.
I wanted to escape. I worried about how I would explain the election results to my soon to wake 4-year old.
But I stayed. This was not the time to escape, this was the time to stay.
Throughout election night and the following day many texts were shared between me and my female friends and family, consoling each other about the election results. My facebook feed was filled mostly with feelings of disbelief, anger, shock and fear. I closed my door at work and cried.
Clearly I live in a very “blue bubble“, but the election results were showing me our country was far more deeply divided than I could have imagined. I looked to an old friend on facebook, who I knew had very conservative political views. I looked through his past posts. I found a post comparing a Hillary Clinton quote to a Hitler quote, rhetoric I have seen in the liberal media as well, comparing Trump to Hitler and fascist regimes. Here is our common ground…FEAR.
In the Yoga Way to Birth class, we look closely at fear, in relationship to birth and how it impacts us. Fear closes us down, it is a constricting feeling, paired closely with our limbic system and our fight/flight/freeze reaction, that supersedes any logical thoughts when in the face of danger. Most notably, fear serves to increase our experience of pain. Politicians have been playing to our fear. Many of us voted from a place of fear.
It feels like a dark time for me in this country. A time when people have outwardly chosen hate, over justice, inclusiveness and basic human rights. I am completely heartbroken by the onset of violence that it has caused for people of color, those with disabilities, LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims and women. For many people in places of privilege, it feels like an awakening to America’s “dirty little secret”, when the reality it is, this is not new! Even if this is the first time we’re noticing…racism, sexism, xenophobia, ablism, trans-phobia, Islamophobia are all real things, just because we have not had to deal with them personally or on a daily basis, does not mean they do not exist! And it is clearly white people, male and female, that have made the president-elect’s, once far-fetched candidacy, a reality.
Maybe in some ways its better to have an overtly hateful leader, than to continue to endure a quiet and insidious system that continually undermines and upholds a structure that is steeped in inequality. At least now we are all talking about it.
And I can’t help but wonder, like @valariekaur, that maybe we are not in the darkness of a tomb, but the darkness of a womb. On the verge of a birth. And like the intensity of transition in labor, there is no turning back. There is no escape. Our task now, especially as people in privileged positions is to stay, to see and to ally.
I often tell people in my social work practice that the beginning of any change is awareness. We must know were we are starting from to know where we are heading. And now we are staring at our starting place, with disgust, fear, repulsion for the hate that has been allowed to fester. But I beg you, do not look away. This is where the real change happens. Stay. Because the only way out now, is through.
Lastly, as we enter into this rEVOLution, let us hold onto hope for the future.
And may we never forget the individual power we contribute to the collective.
In yoga classes you often hear the word “namaste”, meaning the light in me, honors and sees the light in you. But we cannot see light, unless we know the dark as well. Let us all take this opportunity to know our own darkness better. It may feel uncomfortable, maybe evening make you want to escape, but please stay. Because it is only through knowing darkness that we ever are able to see light. Namaste.