Admittedly, I was annoyed with the celebration of Biden’s win last Saturday. Not that I wanted Trump to win, but I wasn’t satisfied with the choices in the first place. I was pretty irritated by all the partying when the work ahead is still so overwhelming. A Biden presidency is no victory, it felt more like permission to go back to sleep and tacitly consent to the deplorable conditions set up by the American government. The Trump presidency did not incite injustice, it simply exposed it.
We wanted radical change but with little personal investment. We hoped that voting would be enough, and it simply isn’t.
When the pandemic forced everyone to stay inside and cease public activities, we experienced a mass awakening to the conditions of the world. I believe the country bursting in protest for the murder of George Floyd was because we didn’t have the typical distractions to ignore it. Many Americans began questioning their role in perpetuating racism. Egos were dropped to consider the behaviors that contribute to the problem. However, as the going got tough, we got out. We discharged through social media announcing our own righteousness; we posted signs, read books, joined discussions, we even marched in protest – but never committing to meaningful, sustainable action. Never letting the discomfort simmer long enough to transform us, we took to voting as our ultimate act for change. We wanted radical change but with little personal investment. We hoped that voting would be enough, and it simply isn’t.
Foolishly rooting for leaders to fix the problems that they, the government themselves, helped create was our solution. The discomfort we felt throughout 2020 is not circumstantial, it’s our resistance to change. Donald Trump is the result of our apathy and selfishness. He represents our attachment to luxury, and entitlement.
The Yoga Sutras have warned us, for 3000 years now about keeping guard from behaviours that lead to wickedness. Take any qualities from the Yamas, for example, and use it to audit your behavior. Do you really need another pair of shoes or can you practice Aparigraha (non-greed)? Is a white lie really ok or can you observe Satya (truthfulness)? And the most prevalent right now: The hate you express over a media post and the way you vilify the person who posted it versus exercising Ahimsa (non-violence). It is easy and often tempting to choose against what the Sutras offer, but to habitually do so can lead to “Trump-esque” behavior.
If you are feeling discomfort with the world today, ask yourself, “what part have I played in it?”
“What you are the world is,” a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti is a call for radical truth and piercing honesty. If you are feeling discomfort with the world today, ask yourself, “what part have I played in it?” I took a Yoga class that Saturday morning where the teacher wanted to highlight Peace and Light, and I could not accept it. How could I when corruption looms over our lives and this time it won’t be Tweeted. I struggled throughout the class – feeling resentful and angry. The truth is, radical change requires sacrifice: the kind that makes you give up a few luxuries so you may invest in the cause you believe in; the kind that makes space in your tight schedule to consistently serve your community. It requires militant compassion: the kind that challenges you to connect with your neighbors/family/community who oppose your stance; the kind that loves your enemies even the one that dwells within. It wasn’t until the end of the class that I realized how foolish I was for resisting the gift of peace and light. I had let the bitterness coat my heart to shield out the very thing my work in life hopes to bring in this world. Even with mindful investigation, I still fell into hatred and judgement.
While I wasn’t up for celebrating that day, I recognized our need to celebrate our victories, even small ones. I acknowledged the ones negatively affected by the Trump administration and held compassion for those that wanted Trump to win. I know it’s a long and difficult road to healing but I suspect a glimmer of hope. Not from the presidential results, but from the people who awakened to their power to make a difference and acted to benefit others.