Using my Anger for Good

I have a confession to make y’all. I have not been “loving what is.” This is true in a few areas of my life, but it’s probably most apparent when it comes to the current presidential situation in the United States. Ever since he-who-shall-not-be-named was elected, I find myself getting riled up almost every day, often multiple times a day. Every time I risk a look at the news, it seems, there’s something there for me to get upset about. I don’t generally consider myself a very angry person, but y’all, this guy makes me ANGRY. The thing is, though, this anger I’m harboring isn’t doing anybody any good. It’s definitely not helping me, and I’m pretty sure dude in the White House wouldn’t care. It’s also not helping our National Parks, the people in Puerto Rico, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, or any other number of groups/entities that have been in the administration’s line of fire so far.

So it stops here. I’m done fuming over every little thing this administration does that I consider an injustice. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop caring. Definitely not. And I can’t guarantee I won’t keep getting angry. But I’m going to try my best to use my anger constructively instead of just letting it eat away at me and fester. I refuse to give that power to anyone, least of all Donald Trump. Because like it or not, this guy is going to be in the White House for the next four years, and I don’t want those years to be consumed by anger and frustration. I want to focus on doing what I can to make a positive difference– in this country, in my community, and in individual people’s lives. I believe that love really does trump hate, and that if we can all focus on being proactive instead of reactive, on fighting for what we believe in instead of protesting what we don’t, perhaps we can stem the tide of division and animosity that seems to be washing over this country. If the government isn’t going to step up and set a good example, then it’s up to each of us.

Because despite the way the media portrays it, despite the way it may look in your Facebook or Twitter feeds, and despite how it looks in the comment sections of pretty much any online news site or social media platform, I genuinely believe we are more alike than we are different. I think we all just want to love and be loved, to feel safe and secure, to be respected. We may not always agree on the details or how to achieve these things, but we can at least find some common ground and try to work together with our commonalities as a starting point. As Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Buddhist meditation master, once said, “Everybody loves something, even if it’s just tortillas.”

Seems like a good place to begin.

 

 

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It’s not Donald Trump that worries me

I’ve been thinking about Donald Trump a lot lately. With all the coverage he gets in the media, it’s been hard not to.

At the beginning of the presidential primaries, I didn’t really give him much thought. If anything, I thought his presence as a candidate might be a little amusing. As I began to learn more about him and hear some of the things he was saying, I became a little disturbed, but not worried. “People will see right through him,” I thought. “He won’t last long once people actually start to vote…”

After he won the first couple of states, my optimistic self thought it must just be some kind of a fluke. But the more delegates he wins, and the more incendiary his rhetoric becomes, the more bothered I am. Forget the fact that he has absolutely zero platform and has given basically no details about how he plans to actually accomplish any of the things he talks about. That I could deal with. That’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is how critical he’s been about entire swaths of the population, how he encourages people at his rallies to engage in violence, and how he childishly bullies anyone who dares say anything remotely critical of him. Not to mention his pumped up view of himself and his inability to take responsibility. This man, people, is not fit to be president. Not of the United States, and not of anything else. What he is, is a narcissist, a bully, and a racist. Even children watching the Republican debates recognize this. Why don’t his supporters?

And that, my friends, is what bothers me the most. Because the more I think about it, it’s actually not Donald Trump that concerns me. It’s all the people who support him. All the people who approve of what he says and who agree with his hate filled ideas and words. Donald Trump didn’t insert their hate into them; he’s just the flame that lit the fuel on fire.

Living in the little bubble that I do, I wasn’t aware of how much hate had been simmering beneath the surface of our great nation. Oh sure, I know prejudice exists and that people can be nasty. But I had no idea it was at the level I’ve seen demonstrated lately. I was watching footage of one of Trump’s rallies the other day, and some of the things I heard coming out of people’s mouths directed at his protesters were downright nasty. Maybe I’m naïve, but I thought we’d made more progress than that.

Apparently not. Apparently people are really angry, and we’ve just been sitting on a volcano ready to blow this whole time. What got us here? Was it the police shootings in the past couple of years or does it go back further? Was it the economic crises we’re still struggling to fully recover from? I really don’t know. I just know that what I’m seeing and hearing is really, really, really upsetting, and I’m afraid that it’s not going to just go away.

Unless we do something. It’s time for those of us who aren’t filled with hate to step up and use our voices in a constructive way. What that will look like will be unique to everyone, but if you’re reading this and you, too, are concerned about the direction this primary is taking our country, please speak up. Vote in your state’s primary. Write letters to the editor. Talk to your friends. Smile at a stranger. Help a neighbor. If you hear someone say something racist, call them on it. We have to fight the hatred that’s threatening to tear us down. Don’t feel like your voice is insignificant. It isn’t. I keep thinking of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

So get out there and spread the love people. It’s the only weapon we have left. Because getting rid of Donald Trump will not fix things. He’s already unleashed the dragon, and the dragon is us.