An attitude of gratitude is most salutary, and bespeaks the realization that we are now in heaven. (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 497.2)
Wednesday night following the elections, we had a regularly scheduled Journey class. It was supposed to be about “The Hero’s Journey” and how archetypes color our lives. In a way it was. This election moved each of us through our own personal hero’s journey, or as I like to think of it, the agitation and spin cycles of a washing machine. Ultimately, we come out cleaner, clearer and more focused, and the process tends to be disorienting and generally unpleasant.
Obviously, we talked at length about the election results and our impressions of the particular candidates and our feelings and fears about them, recognizing that we each carry a biased caricature in our individual minds about who these two individuals are, and what they represent. By the end of the evening, most of the individuals present felt less at the effect of the election results, and recognized that this election calls each of us to shift from a sense of complacency into engagement and involvement in some fashion and at some level that is unique to each individual.
Each of us has had experiences, or have read about, or heard about experiences, that reinforce our viewpoint of the state of our country. I know it has been true for me; suddenly, random people seem more rude and pushy and arrogant and unkind. And we know, at least hypothetically, that we can only see what we believe. Is it time to pull out some elbow grease and scrub our pet points-of-view and see what we discover? When we remember, we know we are at liberty to think the kinds of thoughts we choose, and work towards the kind of world that we desire to live in.
No democracy, or organization, works long or well if participants willingly allow others to do all their thinking and deciding for them. Each one of us has to do our own heavy lifting. In this instantaneous information, misinformation and disinformation, age in which we find ourselves, sifting through the noise to find accurate, pertinent and meaningful input to allow conscious, intentional decisions can be challenging, and time-consuming. It’s not a whole lot of fun, unless you really enjoy detective work.
You have heard the quote, “Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.” It is attributed to Gene Fowler, a journalist, author and dramatist. I think it is fair to say that he was an observer of the human condition. Whether he is a cynic or a realist, I’ll leave that to your interpretation. He is also quoted as saying, “Everyone needs a warm personal enemy or two to keep him free from rust in the movable parts of his mind.”
So now, how do we move from disgust and distrust to that salutary (i.e. favorable, healthful, beneficial, wholesome) attitude of gratitude? How much personal work will it take so that we can find gratitude for the individuals who wake us up from our slumber, and move us back into our active, participative adulthood as members of our lives, and our society?
In The Hidden Power of the Bible, Ernest Holmes reframed the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden as the necessary waking up that humanity had to do once they collectively chose to experience a world view that contained duality – good and bad, light and dark – and in that choosing, realized that each was always at liberty to choose, and choose again. Maybe this election has created the necessary momentum for each of us to remember to choose the biggest, boldest, brightest life expression we can imagine, and to step on to a bigger stage than we ever imagined. And maybe it has served as a bold reminder that we are in charge of our life experience, and not be at the effect of something or someone outside of ourselves. I can find gratitude for that reminder, and step boldly into my life.
Best, Rev Janis Farmer