Part 2 of 3: from my mind / by Melanie Ida Chopko

Inspired by the writing of my friend Kazu Haga, I'm speaking from my heart, my mind and body.

Part 2: Which brings me to looking at my mind, its fears and confusion. I made a drawing this year about this: "At the gates of the temple - the gates of truth - stand two dogs, paradox and confusion."

If I let it, my mind can go off the rocker today with vivid images of fear, death and destruction. The manifestation of deportation, walls, climate change spiraling out of control with guns everywhere, black and white images of history. It's like America elected the emperor from the Hunger Games, and I better strap in. And, I don't KNOW any of those things. As of November 10th, they are still projections, ideas, fears.  I think that maybe they are more likely now, but I refuse to view them as inevitable. That would be to relinquish the incredible power I have seen in myself and the people around me to co-create history alongside those in Washington - to stop the Keystone pipeline, to bring a democratic socialist  so close to winning the primary that despite a broken election system, he won 22 (or more) states, and pressured Hilary Clinton to adopt 2/3rds of his platform.

I think we need to be very careful with the power of even the liberal media to doom and gloom ourselves into the opposite extreme of idealist hope: absolute cynicism. Another paradox: I KNOW that yesterday in CA and many, many other states, incredible legislation passed to begin dismantling the prison industrial complex. I KNOW nearly every single incredible true-blue female progressive on my ballot was elected into office. It's not that who has been elected president isn't important, but something else is happening locally that is not just a CA bubble, but rushing mighty water.

And  I KNOW the work that is being done by people I love and listen to. In the face of limitation, we are getting more creative, more fierce, more whole-hearted and more efficient in our changemaking. All I know are lyrics from my favorite Brasilian protest song by Chico Buarque - "Apesar de você, In spite of you, tomorrow will be another day. How could you ever stop joy, the very day breaking? How could you stop the rooster from crowing, water flowing up, people loving each other, without end."

And again, our lady Rebecca Solnit: "Presidential elections are a form of madness that comes over us once every four years. They fit the great-man or -woman narrative of history, seducing us into forgetting how powerful we are. They erase our memory of grassroots power, direct democracy and civil society."

I want to be more deeply schooled in people's history, rather than fear. Do what needs to be done to hold the line. I want to surround myself with beauty and spiritual nourishment to the exact extent I am exposed to ugliness and destruction. Balance this dark with light. 

I'm also deeply, deeply confused. How is it that people I love, people in my family who volunteer, do laundry for their sick friends and take care of their dogs, send their kids to piano lessons taught by people like me, voted like this? How there such dissonance between those values and the decisions they make in the ballot box? How is it possible that the media created a monster that has now spiraled out of control and separated my family from their most core values, their most core wisdom? 

I want to understand what that has to do with their struggles, confusions, anger. I want to watch "Michael Moore in Trumpland." I want to grow my spiritual warriorship and network of support to sit more closely to some of my Ohio family members at Thanksgiving and Christmas, instead of recoiling from them. There is no basement, as Dr. King said. This is my Beloved Community as well. Because it obviously didn't work just to stay on my own side of the table, next to people I more easily identify with. I want to more strongly support my fellow white people to unbuckle the racism and sexism that stunts their humanity and produces a culture of addiction and numbness. Just like my own fears, I want to welcome these parts of my culture home into true human nature - their innate kindness, generosity, longing to contribute.

We, both the 1/5th of the country that voted for trump and those of us who are working to create another world, need to have supportive spaces to express and heal from our fear, anger and confusion. We all need to keep being whole.

So I want to work even more closely with YES!, the organization I see doing this work most efficiently. And I want to keep making art that enables all our hearts to open through story, beauty and mystery.