Friday, November 25, 2016

Dear USA - On Trump as President

Dear USA

It has been a little over two weeks since the election that saw Donald Trump elected as your next president. On your election night a group of us were sitting in a restaurant watching the results roll in. I will be honest, we were flabbergasted. We did not anticipate this would occur. While we are Canadians, not Americans, the results of your election was of great interest to us. Being one of your closest neighbours we have been flooded with images, debates, opinions and sound bites of this election. It was impossible not to notice it.

So having said that… America, can I hug you? From the outsider perspective of this election it looks like it has been a long hard road for you, and it also looks like it’s going to be difficult for a while. This election has really seemed to have divided people and created a lot of hard feelings and animosity that is only getting deeper and deeper by the day. There seems to be a lot of anger, confusion, hurt and pain associated with this election and its outcome.

In this election I became aware of deep seated anger and resentment of the candidates from when the preliminaries started right up to the election night. I read a lot of people arguing there was no good choice for this election as the two individuals who were running for the main parties of the nation seemed to generate a lot of overwhelming negative discussion. I understand there were some independent candidates but from here we didn’t hear much about them.

I saw angry memes flood social media, allegations of corruption and crooked financial dealings. Then there were allegations of sexual assaults, federal investigations and upcoming trials. There were threats of violence and displays of hatred, racism, misogyny and homophobia. Blog posts have been exploding with the hopes and fears of what each candidate's presidency will mean and attacking the other side.

And then finally, on November 8th we waited as America voted.... and the explosion happened all over again. Trump supporters triumphant as he was elected in and Clinton supporters crushed as a Republican Majority was elected to power. This was followed by increased reports of racist outbursts across the country and fear sweeping families. Protests in several major cities broke out, some violent. I open my news feed and daily feel bewildered as I sit at this cross road of history.

I don't have any answers for you, I don't even pretend to have the answers. My knowledge of the US electoral system is shaky at best and while there are many similarities between Canadians and Americans we are still two different nations with different cultures and values. So I won't tell you what to do. Instead I offer up some suggestions.

I suggest that all people in all nations educate themselves on their political system. Go online, read library books, look into a course at a community college. Call your political members and ask them to explain how it works. Do everything you can to fully understand the system and how it works. And if in your research you find there are areas that need to be fixed, begin the work to help fix it. Be a beacon of knowledge in your community and share that light with everyone, even those you do not agree with.

I suggest that you get some rest! As a Canadian who is watching from the sidelines I am exhausted! I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this cycle has been on you. So get some rest, sleep in a bit over the weekend and let your strength recoup. I think many of you feel like you have a lot of work ahead of you so make sure you care for yourself. Then please look next door.

I suggest you look in on your neighbours, see how they are doing, or get to know them. Try doing some random acts of kindness for a neighbour to help you open a conversation and maybe learn about each other a little. Help heal the rifts in society by being a beacon of peace in your community. Show each other love and compassion, you don't have to agree with them, just show some compassion and care about each other based on your shared humanity. 

I suggest that you continue to stand up for what you believe in, with the reports of racism and misogyny on the rise I know this will be hard to do, but almost a century ago good people decided what was happening to their neighbours wasn't their concern and let it happen. They let ghetto's and deportations happen. They let killing squads and concentration camps happen. They let gas chambers and slaughter happen. Your grandparents and great uncles/aunts sacrificed a great deal (some of them with their lives) to stop that travesty, please remember the lesson they learned and do not let it happen again in our time. 

And finally please don't come to Canada yet. Your nation needs you, your home and it's people need you. They need voices to stand up for compassion and dignity, they need people to learn and preserve peace and liberty in the Land of the Free. Do not abandon America now. However if things get to a point where you need to be safe to continue your work then I will shelter you and provide what I can so that you may survive and reclaim your freedom.

As for your President Elect, I am in no position to judge his political plans, however there are many area's I believe he and I will disagree, very strongly. I'm worried about the things I have heard him say about women and minorities, I am worried about the people he has chosen to advise him thus far. Having said that please be kind but continue to make your voices heard and remember he works for you. Avoid violence and name calling if at all possible but be assertive and defend yourselves, your families and your neighbours. 

Praying for you often.   

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Exploring Lost - 20/20 Hindsight

In starting this process of exploring lost and figuring it all out I have to say this has been a long process. I actually started on it months ago and it has been an indepth and intensive process. Much of the work has been internal and has involved a lot of questioning, crying, journalling, bitching to anybody who was kind enough to listen and lost of late nights eating ice cream and staring into space. Now that I am coming out the other side of it I think I can give a few humble suggestions about how to be lost.

First and foremost, you will be scared. It's a fucking terrifying bag of suck being spiritually lost! And you know what, it's ok to be afraid, it's ok to sit with a pint of Ice Cream, while sitting on the sofa, swearing up a blue streak as you try and sort it all out. It's ok to feel the confusion, and the heartbreak that goes with it all. Your emotions are a healthy thing, and what's more they are yours. If you find being lost makes you feel exhilarated and free that's great! If it makes you want to curl up in a little ball and sob your guts out that's great to! It's ok to feel whatever the hell you are feeling, just don't let yourself get stuck. It’s ok to mourn that which was lost but don’t let it become the chain you strangle yourself with. At the end of the day you will have to decide that you want to get your ass off the couch and start engaging with the world again, only you can do that.

Second, you are going to be tempted to cling harder to the religious structures that gave you comfort before. Go ahead; there is nothing wrong with giving something a good hard second look. Maybe you will find something you missed that will help you find your way back. If so, wohhooooooooo!!! That’s awesome. And if you don’t, that’s ok too. It is ok to let it go, to take a step back from it all while you sort things out for yourself. If you belong to a coven it’s ok to request a leave while you get your feet under you, or to stop attending churches, temples, synagogues etc. It’s also ok to keep going while you work on it in your heart and mind. Truth be told there is no right or wrong way to be lost, well except going crazy and killing people, that’s wrong.

Likewise it is ok to set aside the labels you attach to yourself for a while (third point). For part of my journey I was not comfortable calling myself Pagan or Witch because I was lost and unsure of where my next step would take me. So I let go of the labels for a while. I set them aside as I walked forwards. I eventually picked them back up again but you don’t have to. It’s also totally ok to let go of an unhealthy ideal image, especially one that causes you more harm than good. There is nothing wrong with having goals to strive for, it’s not a good idea to have a next to impossible goal and then beat the shit out of yourself when you cannot reach it.

Fourth: there is no shame in being lost. I had a huge helping of self imposed guilt on my plate about being lost, about how it meant I was a terrible person, pagan and witch. I didn’t want anybody to know for the longest time, it was a dirty secret I kept. But you know what, I got over that, I realized that being lost was a sign of growth. I had grown within the previous traditions I had been in and then my growth took me outside of them. Some people will continue to grow within those traditions and I am excited for them! I just wasn’t one of them, and you know what, that’s ok.

Fifth: there is nothing wrong with taking the time to explore outside your tradition. I spent a lot of time reading what people of other faiths had to say, both clergy and the layperson. I found some things that turned me away, but I found a lot more inspiration and beauty in their words. I found ideas they offered for others to try (some were epic failures and others gave me new perspectives). I found things I had not considered and I lost a lot of the prejudices I had been allowing to fester in my spirit. I found that we are far more alike than we are different, that we are all linked, that we are still one. No matter the God, no matter the prayer, no matter the trappings of the religion, we are still one. We are all walking miracles and a unique expression of the universe.

And finally the most important thing I discovered with this journey is the value of being myself. I took the time I needed to go through this journey. I decided what voices I needed to listen to, and those I needed to ignore. I learned that sometimes it’s ok to listen to the advice of others, and other times to tell them to fuck off (or at least mentally do so). Take your time to go through your journey, thank those who add value to the journey and tell those that would hinder you or outright stop you to stop, and if they don’t tell them to fuck off. You can follow advice if you want or you can take another road.

At the end of the day finding the right expression for your soul is your journey. Relationships you make with the divine are your own. It’s up to you and the divine to decide how that relationship will work, or it’s up to you to decide that there is no divine. The only right choice, is your choice. I hope you find nothing but love and support along the way, and if you don't, tell them to blow you and move on.