Archive | November, 2016

I cannot remain silent

23 Nov

I have a friend who works at Fox news, and we have frequently been in long conversations about the state of The United States. In many ways we are aligned, but in so many ways we stand on opposite sides, and it’s friends like him that make me want to be silent.

For he is symbolic of many people that I care about and love; people who I would never want to alienate in any way. And while privately, him and I can hear one another out, I know that when you put your voice out there, in the public, when you choose a side, not everyone will stand with you.

However, I have decided that I cannot remain silent and observe the heart of our nation being broken – for that is what is happening. We are splitting in two, and it is ugly.

Every day I ride the C train and transfer to the A – the train that, in a recent interview, Lin Manuel Miranda said when casting Hamilton he wanted it to, “”look like what you see when you get on the A train to go to work.”

The train is all colors and all languages. It’s crowded, uncomfortable, and every day I witness beautiful moments. People of different races, and classes, existing together, moving through the city, and dealing with one another.

The homeless quartet whose harmony was so unbelievable I thought they were lip-singing to a recording; the corporate-looking ,frat-dude who was the only person to hand money out to the clearly disturbed, deaf, beggar; the elderly man who offered a pregnant woman his seat; the young black girls sharing their man problems and the elderly white lady turning to me, saying, “getting old isn’t so bad,” while smiling at them.

These moments warm my heart because it’s why I chose to come back to the U.S. after years of traveling; it’s why I chose to live in New York. To be all together, standing there, all just trying to get where we want to go.

And, I cannot be silent while I watch the underbelly of hatred bubble up and blanket our nation.

I know it was there before; that our country was built on slavery; that racism and sexism have been threaded throughout every iteration of our government, but something has broken open. It’s being released and is poisoning our air.

It is all of the anger and fear that we have been carrying. It’s people whose insurance premiums have been too high, whose jobs have been lost. It’s small businesses who are being broken by their taxes, it is those who feel like what they believe in, “their America,” has been stolen from them.

It is the inability to relate – it is the image of a plane flying into a building. It is looking at the, “other,” while gripping onto whatever you got, screaming “don’t take this from me.” It is the hand reaching out, grabbing, and saying, “and that’s mine too.”

It is the digital revolution that has stormed into our cities and broken down our every system, so that even our communication has changed – for who talks to each other anymore?

It is egoism, it is feeling wronged, it is sexism, it is everything that sits within the shadows that we all carry and we cannot let those those win.

And, I don’t believe they can. For in every story there is always a time of darkness, a time when the demons and devils rise – when hell is not a concept but a reality, and all hope seems lost.

The fight seems endless, the light far, and yet, it is in the breaking open, the other side, at the end of the tunnel, when the light hits your eyes so bright that it blinds you.

So, friends, loved ones, I will keep talking, and standing for the light – and I will never go silent, until I am extinguished, for I am not afraid of the dark.

There’s still magic to be found

12 Nov

I don’t know what to say and most I know feel the same way. Some of us are silent, others are shouting, and most everyone is afraid. My Trump friends are elated, my Hillary friends are so angry their eyes are turning red, and the city of New York is openly weeping.

On Wednesday, I felt fear when I left work, and the streets were lined with police and protestors, and I felt the hum of violence in the air.

I don’t like being political because politics can be so petty. Two people, two parties, shouting at one another, trying to convince others to vote for them. As a student of history, as a Yogi, as a peace-believer and love-maker, this feels wrong to me; that when there are two sides the only result is a split, a divide that strikes through our systems in irreparable ways.

This goes against what I believe about people; that what sits within us is not so different no matter the nation or nationality. This belief was born when I went to Spain for the first time, at sixteen, and I stood on a beach with people from Italy, China, Switzerland and the US, and we were all teenagers who wanted to be liked – who wanted to explore, be kissed, to dance, get drunk and run the streets of the small town that we were visiting.

Some of us were more privileged than others, some of us more educated, some had happy families and others not so much, but in my heart I knew that we all strove for a similar thing – for the right to seek our happiness, the pursuit of it, no matter what it looked like on the outside; that was our youthful, motivating factor.

I have sat in shacks in Ecuador with families of 12, with 14 year old mothers, and I have stayed with friends in Colombia whose brothers were stabbed by gang members. I have spent days on farms in Bolivia, and  on small, impoverished islands where there are no options other than the sea. I have bused through Nicaraguan towns, and I have biked through the English countryside where I was the first American that some of the villagers had met.

I have lived in Illinois, Indiana, California, Colorado and New York – I have been both red and blue, and I  have always come to the same conclusion. That the ability to live a simple, peaceful life is the greatest gift of all. That fear is our greatest monster, and it’s one we cannot escape, and that people say they want, “change,” but to transform, to shift into a different way of being is never easy –  and is rarely peaceful.

That empathy is the alchemy to the world’s shadows, and so I will never stop listening, and traveling, and reading, and hearing both sides because I know beneath it all I am not so different from the other.

So friends, let us not fight hate with hate; let us not fall into despair because love does win, even the darkness. It’s the light inside of us and when it is ignited, we can let other’s ugliness enter it and they, too, will be warmed by our way of being – for there is still magic in this world.

On Wednesday, to soothe myself, I popped into my local bookstore because it’s the way that bookstores are supposed to be: warm, welcoming and well-lit. Unexpectedly, there was a famous female poet performing. She was speaking to the experience of womanhood, and when I looked into the audience I saw men, women and people of all colors, snapping their fingers, being moved by her words – funny, furious, violent and healing.

And I thought, no matter what anyone tells me, now, or in the future, if they say, “go back to where you came from,” I will smile and say, “okay,” because I’ll know that I am home.