Let Me Be the Change

All of our diatribes against Donald Trump, against his racism, homophobia, mysogyny, xenophobia, greed, ego, etc., all reveal aspects of our common consciousness. Growing up in America, we are all trained in these beliefs to various degrees: that Blacks are inferior to Whites, that gays are aberrations of nature, that men should be the heads of the household, that foreigners are dangerous, that making it in the world means being rich. To deny your own racism, homophobia, mysogyny, xenophobia, greed is to deny your truth.

In this regard, Donald Trump may be the perfect candidate to highlight our nation’s shadow – that aspect of our common consciousness that is there, but often hidden beneath a facade of good manners. His hate-filled campaign has brought to light aspects of our culture that definitely need improvement. Accordingly, his main-stage presence provides a chance for you to look inside yourself and witness the remnants of your enculturated biases. You can see places where you judge others, where you are biased against some group or person, where your ego blocks you from a compassionate response when others are in pain. Can you let DT be a wake up within your own life to the residual hate that you carry. Can you accept that all of the name-calling towards DT could be applied to you, too, and to all of those around you, even here in our liberal bubble by the Bay. Let his presidency be a time to recommit to your chosen values, to mindfully become aware when some form of judgment or harm-doing arises, and to practice acceptance and kindness more broadly and more bravely.

Mindfulness highlights the fact that whenever you are awake and aware in the present moment, the gift of choice is there, too.  You can choose your next thoughts, your next words, your next actions.  When you are not mindfully aware, then you are propelled by your habits.  In whatever ways you have responded in the past is how you will likely respond again.  Someone pushes your buttons, makes you feel uncomfortable, and your habitual reaction to button-pushing emerges.  

To develop individually and to evolve as a country, you need to wake up to your habitual reactions that are perpetuating the hate, otherization, name-calling, greed, etc.  that you claim to disavow.  These may show up in subtle ways, e.g., avoiding family members who hold views different than your own, tending to veer to the side of the sidewalk or placing a firmer grip on your purse when approaching a person of color, getting caught in the retail frenzy of the holiday season,  claiming color-blindness in regards to racial differences, etc.  

I have always liked this garden analogy.  You hold within you the seeds of love and hate, of acceptance and aversion, of all qualities.  With your thoughts, words and actions, you are constantly watering certain seeds, and thus growing those qualities.  

To stand against racism, homophobia, mysogyny, xenophobia you must be on the lookout for times when you are, even in subtle ways, even unintentionally,  watering the seeds that perpetuate those traits.  And, in recognizing those habits, make choices that cultivate your values of human kindness, equality, acceptance, and generosity.  

Facing the negative within ourselves is challenging, for we don’t like to acknowledge that we are perpetuating the same qualities that we judge in others.  Thus, this practice takes courage to shine light on our own shadow and meet it with honesty and compassion.  

As you approach the New Year, take some time to consider Gandhi’s quote.  What is it you want to represent in the world?  What change to you feel energized to get behind?  What do you see in our country that needs watering?  

I am committed in my teaching to cultivate greater acceptance, of oneself and of others.  Using Gandhi’s quote as inspiration, I wrote a devotional song to share with my yoga classes.  The words and a link to the accompaniment are available below.  

As I was making copies of the words for class, I was waiting in line at the copy store and finding myself upset by the slowness of the young lady working there.  I was cutting it close time-wise, and started blaming her (in my thoughts) for potentially making me late.  Because I had been singing this song in the car on the way to the copy shop, I started singing it in my mind as I impatiently stood there.  The words of the song hit me, and I smiled to myself realizing that here was a chance to let go of judgment, to practice the mindful tool of acceptance, to be compassionate towards this person working on a Saturday morning so I could get my copies, to be the change I wanted to see.  

I hope you take the song with you and sing it.  May it help train your heart to be more accepting and remind you of your ability to CHOOSE to speak and act in ways that align with your values and intentions.  

 

Let Me Be the Change

Let me be the change

Let me be the change

Let me rearrange my heart.

To accept those who differ

To allow what might seem strange

Let me be the change.

We’re all here together.

We all feel love and pain

On the surface we may differ.

But beneath we’re much the same.

 

So,

Let me be the change.

Let me be the change.

Let me choose from love not fear

And not respond to hatred

By adding yet more hatred.

Let me be the change.

Not man vs. woman

Not black vs. white

Not christian vs. muslim

Not left vs. right.

Let me be the change.

Let me be the change.

For

We’re all here together.

We all feel love and pain

So let us, let us be the change.

So,

Let me be the change. {choose love}

Let me be the change. {not hate}

Let me be the change.

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