Thoughts on the non-Mutual Exclusivity of Mindfulness and Political Activism

My mellow personality combined with my general philosophy and approach to life — based in mindfulness, with values such as equanimity, non-judgment, and detachment — has guided my thoughts and actions over these past few months since Trump’s election.

In other words, while I’ve been staying well-informed with what’s going on, I’ve only occasionally asserted myself into the dialogue. I have for the most part kept my opposition to the direction Trump has taken the discussion — how he has normalized hate, othering, divisive rhetoric, and outright lying — to myself.

When I have shared perspectives, I have done so relatively magnanimously. I have meditated on certain subjects, events, and agendas, but have not become emotionally attached enough to become overly activist in my language or to become an overt proselytizer.

But, now that Trump is the president and within one week of holding the highest office and power in the country has already enacted policy changes that severely and detrimentally affect millions of already marginalized people — both in our country and outside of it — I can no longer abide my mantra of “observing without judging or reacting.”

My ongoing quest for inner peace, equanimity, and mental and physical de-cluttering is not always reconcilable with my ongoing quest for equity, social justice, and inclusion.

I feel now as I write these words that I’m at a crossroads. I have become all too aware that to get more involved in the opposition to Trump and his hurtful, hateful agenda will not only require more of my time, energy, and focus, but it will challenge my desire to remain calm and relatively neutral.

In the past I have had ventures into political combativeness that have resulted in unproductive “discussion,” anger, loss of friendship, and ultimately a loss of the sense of who I was at my core. I moved so far away from my authentic self, I was hardly recognizable to myself.

I have learned from those debacles. I am older and wiser and more mature — both to know how not to go about my political activities, and to know that restricting my political activities to being well-informed yet inactive is irresponsible and self-serving.

I still want dialogue. I still want to listen to different perspectives. I still want a productive exchange of ideas. But, starting today, I am going to take a more assertive role in orienting the dialogue and the perspective and the exchange of ideas in a direction that is inclusive and respectful, and that will fight the evil, racist, and divisive exclusionary rhetoric and policy that seems to have only just begun.

I want your support. I want your ideas and suggestions. I want your feedback. I want your respect and civility. I want your curiosity and your courage. I want your camaraderie, and I want your action. Together, we can fight the normalization of extremist nonsense.

How can you start? I just signed up for Daily Action, resisting extremism in America, one phone call at a time. Get a daily text with clear, actionable suggestions for making a difference through civic engagement.

When our voices are heard en masse, it WILL make a difference. Will you join me?