It’s gettin’ hard out here for a spiritual person.
Last year was full of challenges, devastating natural disasters and wars. Pictures of children halfway across the world lay dying on beaches and roads, standoffs at Standing Rock, the unexpected deaths of too many icons and legends, and then there was Bernie, Hillary and Trump.
From the macro to the micro we were forced out of the “not in my backyard” to what is now laying on our doorstep. We can try to keep the door shut, but eventually we have to go outside and it’s impossible to merely step over what we cannot ignore.
And for what seems like the first time in as long as I can remember, everyone had an opinion they thought was right– even if that opinion was remaining silent.
As a Canadian living in the US at the time, the only way I was able to directly participate in the election season was by means of social media. As many of us did, we used the platform to share information and to show support or disdain for things that were happening. As things quickly went from the sublime to the ridiculous I began to notice a few equally, yet disturbing, things: there are a lot of really, REALLY angry people out there, and there are a lot of people trying really, REALLY hard to force positivity. We do live in a world of polarity, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
What began to ignite my own personal fire was the force with which the voices of those who were angry began to drown out the other voices. The closer the reality of a Trump victory got, the stronger the tide of anger swept across my feeds. A mounting tidal wave of something that had been held at bay for god knows how long was finally free to flow, and somehow we all missed it until it was raining down on top of us.
And so we shared.
Tapes of presidential hopefuls disparaging women went viral, giving two distinct voices a platform: those that would justify it as “locker room banter” and those who would come out of their own shadows to use their voice to take a stand against the growing and frightening acceptance of rape culture. White supremacists, racists and anti-Semites finally felt supported enough by the growing tide of unrest and fear to take their secret meetings and acts of violence out into the open in front of phones and cameras… and so we shared those as well. Some shared in support, some shared in fear, and some shared in shock and outrage.
Despite being a person who practices, preaches and teaches being non-reactive, I had to take a stand. As a woman who has experienced sexual assault first hand, I, like many others, felt violated over and over again every time someone tried to defend or justify what was happening. As a Jew I felt the fear, anger and pain of five thousand years of persecution, destruction and survival once again teetering on a familiar edge of unrest that many people were trying to deny, and worse, ignore.
And so I shared.
Over and over, on every social media platform I could find, I tweeted and made IG stories. I posted and shared on my Facebook wall, my Tumbler, even using iMessage to blast out information. I was using my voice and my writing, doing my part on behalf of others and myself in the best way possible… or so I thought.
I had braced myself for backlash from people I knew who were easily triggered: staunch Republicans, NRA members, relatives who made jokes on my meditation posts. People were volatile and everyone had an opinion and argument at the ready.
Unexpectedly the backlash didn’t come from the people I was speaking out against. Rather, it came from people that are a part of the ‘spiritual’ communities. “You shouldn’t be giving attention to things that promote negative energy” was the message I was being given over and over.
Now, having intention about where we put our attention is the cornerstone of all mindful and successful living. Wasn’t that exactly what I, and the rest of us, were doing by sharing and promoting these stories, ideas, and videos online? But still they wondered, “Why wasn’t I being impartial, positive, and sharing messages about the power of meditating and manifesting instead?”
To appease them I went back through some of my media and starting deleting things that might have been perceived as negative or reactive.
But then I stopped myself.
I would never have backpedaled on standing up for what I believe for random criticism, so why was I doing it for people who were a part of my spiritual community?
There is a fine line between burying our heads in the sand and drawing a line to stand up for what you believe in. In some instances the sharing of credited information is putting positive intention and attention out there. It can promote courage and knowledge, it can bring us together to take a stand and force action, and it can give voices to those who had none before.
And, as polarity does, it can also give voice to those we would rather not hear from. And they have just as much right to their voices as well. But their power lies in fear and counts on the rest of us to remain silent. We must fight the fire with the fire, fanning our flames with the intention of the greater good.
The intention to do good is what’s key here. It’s the secret weapon the rest of them don’t have… and that is what will carry us through the next year– or four.