Six dimensions of post-election solace

dimensionWe live life within at least six dimensions: the spiritual, the political, the personal, the familial, the professional, and the communal. Whether you are celebrating or despairing after this extraordinary election, you might find perspective, even solace, by reflecting upon all six. When one collapses, it may be best to dwell within another for a while.

Whether you are religious or not, the spiritual is the most important: One way or the other, you have to establish a working relationship between your extraordinary consciousness and the rest of the Universe. While I tend to believe there is no Ultimate Purpose in my life, I try to live a decent life based upon kindness to self and others.  Compassion is the greatest spiritual practice, one that can be performed by everyone.

Adverse political developments can test kindness. After the Chinese conquered Tibet, they threw a doctor in jail, where they tortured him for years. When he was finally released, someone asked him what was the worst part of the ordeal. He said it was trying to maintain compassion for his captors. While I doubt if I could be so generous, I am going to try harder than ever to find common ground with people across the political spectrum. Not every vote for Trump was a “vote for racism;” not every vote for Clinton was a “vote for corruption.”  Most of us were not thrilled with either option.

You are still alive. You have had and will continue to have a unique, interesting life. Human consciousness is so extraordinary that it approaches the miraculous. Listen to the wind-blown leaves dancing along the earth.  Pet your dog.  Simply be grateful for your next breath.  One way or the other, it’s not going to last all that much longer.

I hope that you are in touch with your flawed but often wonderful family. Give everybody a hug. Perhaps you can reach out to someone with whom you have had serious differences.  Very few of us have much control or influence over the world, but we play major roles within our tiny, vulnerable families.

Whatever work you do or services you provide, try to do them better. Some of your co-workers or customers voted for the other side. They are frightened too.

Our community is very fractured right now. The ruling class seems to have gone overboard when utilizing its fundamental tool of “divide and conquer,” and many members of both factions are filled with self-righteous fury. Somehow, people of good will from both sides (and there are people of good will on both sides) must overcome these understandable emotions to band together to create a more decent society that addresses the serious problems our species face throughout the world. This election may create the space for new coalitions to form. There is always a place for friendship and reciprocity. If you know and like someone from the other side, ask them for a hug. While hugging them, think where both of you will be in two hundred years.

 

[Image credit:  Roman Harak – In the sand, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31637804]

James Wilson James Wilson (6 Posts)

James Wilson is Professor Emeritus of Law at Cleveland Marshall College of Law, in Cleveland OH.


  • Stacy Mergenthal

    It can be difficult in trying times, but this is when we need kindness the most. I tell my kids this all the time: smile, say “hello” to someone new, wave at a neighbor, hold the door open for someone. The simple niceties can really make someone’s day brighter, and yours by extension. It can change one’s entire outlook and makes living through something like a Trump presidency a little more zen.