Working Through Election Despair

My mother once told me that she cried when Reagan was elected. I have been around enough hippies to know their thoughts about Nixon. I remember well my shock when Bush won his second term after the war in Iraq.

This is a new low for our nation.

This is not the end of the world, but this will cause suffering to those who are the most vulnerable. This will ruin lives, and some may not survive. There has already been an increase in hate crimes. I have cried quite a bit the last few days… for the children who won’t believe their teachers when they are taught bullying is wrong, for the undocumented immigrants who are unsure of their future, for the women, Muslims, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community who don’t feel safe, and for an earth on the brink of destruction that just doesn’t have time for this.

They say a parent loves their child so much that the child’s needs come first. Through exhaustion and fatigue, through early mornings and late nights, through rebellion, lies, and being ignored, a parent will ensure their child’s survival and even its thriving.

This is how I want to love the world.

I want to love a world that sometimes destroys itself, that often exploits and oppresses, that honors greed, hatred and delusion, ignores reason and wisdom, and loses its way.

I want to love it because that is the world we have.

That is what I have learned in this election- to hold steady my ideals and vision for a free and just society while deeply acknowledging the truth of this moment, especially when these are exhaustingly incongruous.

When two strings are out of tune with each other they cause dissonance. It is by deeply listening to this discordant sound that we can finely tune an instrument towards beauty and harmony.

This is our work- to deeply listen to the pain of the world, to listen to oppression and to listen to hate. It is through this listening that we can tune it towards justice, freedom, and yes… even love.

But, there is a chasm of doubt between where we are and where we want to go. The strings of the world are too heavy for any one person, and none of us are properly trained on how to turn their pegs.

And yet this is what the world needs, and this is how I want to love.

What we are really dealing with here is akin to the original meaning of compassion: ‘suffering with.’ It is the distress we feel in connection with the larger whole of which we are a part. It is our pain for the world… We are not closed off from the world, but rather are integral components of it, like cells in a larger body. When part of that body is traumatized- in the sufferings of fellow beings, in the pillage of our planet, and even in the violation of future generations- we sense that trauma too.

-Joanna Macy, Working Through Environmental Despair

Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty…

-Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sufi invocation

About Sitaram Dass

kirtan and writings at View all posts by Sitaram Dass

3 responses to “Working Through Election Despair

  • themauikid

    Yes. Americans have shown their true values. So sad!

  • Matthew

    Ah, Sitaram, you are so eloquent in your words of explication. There are so many of us now, young and not so young, Americans and Europeans and Asians and Africans (Nancy and I are among many of these folks now in India), in deep, lingering despair and fear over this situation, and it is critical that we continue to cultivate our hearts of compassion, and even trust in a greater wisdom. These sorts of events are enough to shake one’s faith, and it would be most unfortunate indeed to allow this loss to follow the other recent profound losses. Be well. Thinking of you, sending love.

  • Inessa

    nowhere to go to get away so embrace we must.

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