We Belong to Each Other

This year’s political environment has sparked much division within our families and among friends and those with whom we are close. Prior to this year’s (2017 for future readers) presidential inauguration, I posted the following in response to a statement of potential family division, made by someone I love (a nephew). We must always remember that our public affirmations, no matter how firmly held, can be damaging to those we share family ties, but our responses cannot spark further division nor be personalized:

I am blessed and honored to be have been alive in a period when a president of the U.S. has been as kind, as graceful, having a complete measure of integrity and dignity as Barack Hussein Obama. I am saddened that we are entering an era of condescension, mean-spritedness and arrogance. The past 8 years have been marked by intelligent and magnificent oration, by thoughtful debate, by openness and, yes, humor and humanity. We watch with dismay, an approaching time of immature and painful discourse, of embarrassment on the global stage and profound narcissism.

Words matter!! There are many who share these sentiments, with whom we also share a bond of family and friends. It is hurting and even insulting to celebrate the temporary suspension of this phase of U.S. history that has meant so much to so many. There are indeed 6 days remaining of a presidency that has been able to represent the U.S. with pride, with intelligence, with love and grace. We should all be extremely proud of this, and extremely sad that it is ending.

My parents, the grandparents of my children, would be extremely sad. My parents were in the vanguard of the civil rights movement along with John Lewis, who has been denigrated by the incoming administration. When denigrating Congressman Lewis, we are all disrespected. We have all been men and women of action in the struggle, and yes it has been a struggle, for a Barack Hussein Obama to exist. It is unthinkable that this period of history and those who lived it would be dismissed in this manner. Yet this is what we can expect, so there is no real surprise here.

But there’s good news in that the coming week will present us with 2 important choices. On Monday we celebrate the birth of MLK. On Friday, we inaugurate an incoming president. From Monday onward we can be energized through commemorating the legacy of hope, grace and love we have been bequeathed. Or, on Friday, we can be immobilized by fear, close-mindedness and the hate that we are moving toward. And of course, the third option is that for people of good will, Friday will serve as a motivating force none-the-less.

The arc of the emerging consciousness, I think, is bending toward a re-energized hope. And there is an important distinction to be drawn between the choice of hope or fear: Hope will, by definition, pull us together, whereas fear will continue to wedge us apart. Being on a lonely planet in an outpost of the Universe doesn’t make separatism possible without insanity.

Therefore, I pray that through all of this we will all ultimately hear echos of Mother Teresa’s quote: “If there is no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”