For anyone feeling anger, fear or despair from this week’s news…
My parents met at an anti-apartheid meeting … that my dad had organised.
I grew up on a diet of Pete Seeger songs and protest marches.
Writing letters of support to political prisoners and sponsoring children in third world countries was the norm in my childhood home.
Fighting against discrimination and injustice is woven into my DNA.
So, when the UK recently voted for Brexit, on the back of a fear-based campaign that incited a dramatic upsurge in racist attacks, I was both gutted and furious.
It felt like such a massive step backwards to me. And seeing the far right scuttling out from beneath their rock of shame feeling legitimised made me sick to my stomach.
I met my dad for lunch a couple of days after Brexit, expecting him to be similarly hopping with righteous anger.
But while I ranted and raved he just listened with a peaceful smile upon his face.
‘How could they do it?’ I asked him. ‘How could they fall for the lies and the fear?’
I was expecting him to start raging about other people’s stupidity but instead he put the focus back on me.
‘You need to come back to a place of Love,’ he told me. ‘Don’t let fear uproot you.’
He helped me to see how the people who voted for Brexit – and the politicians, press and media that encouraged them – weren’t the only ones coming from a place of fear.
I was too. And it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t helpful. And it certainly wasn’t healthy.
A few days after our lunch I received a letter from my dad, in which he said this:
‘Well, you certainly reminded me of a (younger) me the other day – the anger, the righteous anger! – the disillusionment – despair. Been there. Many times. And it took me YEARS to get well. Yes, I’m saying, this is NOT a good way to be. The world is going to keep on giving us opportunities to reenact this anger / despair scenario and we can end up like a guy who keeps scratching at a wound – it NEVER gets better.’
And what do you know? The world gave me – and many other people – an opportunity to reenact this anger and despair this week.
But thankfully, the advice my dad gave me following Brexit had really sunk in, like some kind of Donald Trump inoculation.
So, when he won the presidential election I felt shocked and heartbroken and I cried for all the Americans who would be terrified at what had happened, but this time I didn’t get angry. This time I didn’t feel despair.
My dad finished his post-Brexit letter to me with a couple of quotes, which I’ve been clinging to like a life-raft this week.
‘This too shall pass.’ It will – it always does. If you’ve been feeling anger or despair or fear at the election result, these feelings will pass. And I’ve found they fade a lot sooner if you focus on the second quote…
‘This, also, is for the good.’ I really struggled with this one when I first read it. How the *bleep* is any of this ‘for the good’? ! I think the point is, you have to find the good. Here’s what I’ve managed to find for the good this week…
:: It’s a massive call-to-action for all of us who believe in the power of Love over fear.
:: The time for simply talking or thinking or meditating about Love is over.
:: We need to make a concerted effort to counter the fear and division in the world through our actions, wherever we can.
:: We need to reach out to those who are discriminated against and show them we see them and we’re with them and we care.
:: We need to campaign for the issues we care about; make our voices heard.
:: We need to show up and rise up and speak up for Love.
:: And we need to do it with Love and grace not hate and fear. The kind of Love and grace that Obama showed when he invited Trump to the White House this week.
As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said: ‘Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.‘
As Jesus said: ‘Love your enemy.’
As Gandhi said: ‘An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.‘
So, don’t get drawn into the rhetoric of fear.
Unfollow or unfriend the people on your timelines who spout hate (I highly recommend this one, it’s made my life so much easier).
Don’t post about how much you’re terrified.
Don’t share things that will only incite anger or more fear.
Don’t believe that the majority of the population are racist or misogynist – they’re not.
And don’t blindly hate the people who are. Dig deeper for the real causes of their anger.
Feel compassion and understanding for those who felt so disillusioned and disenfranchised they ended up voting for Brexit or Trump.
Campaign for a more truthful and balanced and responsible press and media.
And above all, ask yourself what you can do to bring more Love to the world, every single day.
I’m planning a major career change in the light of what’s happened and I’m working hard on being more loving in the smaller brushstrokes of my life too.
Don’t let a politician be your leader.
Let Love be your leader. Today, and all days.