In which I lay down my sword…

gov shutdownI’ve been having a hard time with this government shutdown. Not the way many people are. I’m not personally affected, in that no one in my house has been furloughed or is working without pay. We’re still going to be able to pay our bills on time this month. Some of my friends cannot say that.

But I am SO angry. When I look at our Congress and the small group of people who ran on the platform that “government is bad,” and see them failing epically to do their jobs of governing, I am absolutely infuriated.

Our pastor preached a sermon on hope, grace and gratitude yesterday. I want so much to hold on to those thoughts. I want to deliberately practice gratitude for it is the only way out of anger for me. It’s just so very hard.

I’ve been reading the people I know to be wise on these subjects. Brene Brown reminds me that we are all fighting such hard battles, and I would be wise to remember the humanity of everyone involved:

The world has never been an easy place, but the past decade has been traumatic for so many people that it’s made changes in our culture. From 9/11, multiple wars, and the recession to catastrophic natural disasters and the increase in random violence and school shootings, we’ve survived and are surviving events that have torn at our sense of safety with such force that we’ve experienced the as trauma even if we weren’t directly involved. And with it comes to the staggering number of now unemployed and underemployed, I think every single one of us has been directly affected or is close to someone who has been directly affected.

Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress. It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability), we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.

Well that’s me. I’ve been ranting and raging and picking fights because I am right, damn it! But it’s not helpful. And it doesn’t do anyone any good. Least of all me.

Anne Lamott has good wisdom:

I can’t help but remember family holidays, where the alcoholic uncle, who has been threatening to do something rash every time he gets in his cups–and NOT his tea cups–finally goes and does it. He finally does some bizarre, bullying, irrational act that he has been threatening to do for awhile–and everyone’s mouth drops open. Ten percent of those at the table think it’s kind of great, because of their own sense of powerlessness, self-loathing, rage and pain. But the rest of us? Where do we even start, when our family has just been trashed, the kids and wife are crying, and the elderly are in real fear for their lives, scared literally to death?

Make no mistake, we are one family, appearances to the contrary.


And since we are not going to figure this out today, and since “Figure it out” is not a good slogan, let’s do what we’ve always done. We’ll stick together, and get the thirsty people a glass of water. I’ll remember the sticker I saw once, of Koko, the sign language gorilla, above the words, “The law of the American jungle: remain calm, and share your bananas.” I am going to fill a box of warm clothes and take it to Goodwill: this is going to be a terribly cold winter for the poor, what with sequestration and God-only-knows what the shutdown adds to that. I am going to pick up litter. I’ll send some money to one of America’s hunger projects. I’ll pray and pray and pray, all day, that we’ll all pitch in to help our most vulnerable, and that we’ll help each other keep the faith, and our senses of humor. Remember: laughter is carbonated holiness. I swear to you, it is.

We religious nuts say, “I no longer know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” I’m going to try to love the poor, degraded sick uncle, but I will forgive myself if this doesn’t go as well as hoped. And right now, I’m going to practice radical self-care, with a handful of nuts, dried food, lots of water, and a hike. As my pastor Veronica would say, God bless you all REAL good.

Together this seems like the best advice I can listen to.

I’m going to be deadly honest and say that there are people in this country I do not love right now. I’m going to work on that. I’m going to remember that they have mothers too, and lashing out at them because I feel scared won’t fix anything. It will only make it worse. (This means I’m going to do my very best to practice restraint and not post any more ugly things on Facebook about people I disagree with.)

I’ve started today back on a healthy eating and exercise regime. I have to practice self-care in order to care for others. This is also my only possible chance at restraint.

I’m going to look around my little spot of this planet to see who needs help and do what I can. I will also practice gratitude. I am going to focus on the tremendous blessings in my life.

If I am totally vulnerably honest, I will admit that I am human, and there is better than good chance I am going to fail. I’ll let my smart mouth get the better of me. But Lord willing, I am going to do my very best.

This is where the prayer from my dear friend Jill comes in handy. In the morning, I will pray:

God, make me a better person. Make me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, worker and citizen. Help me today.

In the evening, I will remember:

God, there is always tomorrow.


7 thoughts on “In which I lay down my sword…

  1. I love you too and I love this post. Remember there’s always somewhere out there who is equally sincere as you, equally humanitarian and equally loved by God (and so on and so forth) but who is equally angry at the other party and struggling to reign in the urge to rant and lash out against them. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” (Ian Maclaren)

  2. I agree with you TOTALLY! Just returning to Florida after a week in TEA PARTY TEXAS….I am so tired of KEEPING MY MOUTH ZIPPED…has the world gone crazy? aaz
    But…like you, I will work on my corner of the world and pray pray pray for a better day for all and a nation less divided.

  3. Kerri, I am a fairly new reader. However, everything you have written resonates strongly with me because I have “been there” in so many ways, down to having had a child in the school your son attends back some 30 years ago. This sentence shows that I am much older than you are, perhaps not wiser, but older. So please allow me a moment to be “that old biddy” who makes those senior citizen comments. You are doing the right thing in taking this step. It will be healing for you body, mind and spirit. It will strengthen your family, friendships and daily life. It will lift a burden from your shoulders. Oh, you will still be tempted to “sally forth into battle” now and again. You will probably at least “like” memes on Facebook even if you don’t share them but stepping back and removing yourself from the foray will be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

    I was once a “firebrand” out in the streets fighting for what I thought was important. My life was devoted to the service of others(it still is) and socio-political change(not so much any longer). Some of my friends call me “Firestarter”(from the expression I had that reminded them of the girl in the movie) and others called me a “fiery little jalapeno pepper sprout.” I was angry at the injustices of the world and was constantly fighting battles to right the wrongs and make the world a better place to live. It almost killed me. Really, I am not exaggerating!

    Now, I try to avoid the “trauma and drama.” It doesn’t mean that I don’t still care because I do. I care with every inch of my being. Right now though, I am not going to be part of the ugliness that surrounds us all. The fear and anger are potent. I truly believe in peace, love and harmony. Yeah, I am an old hippie and proud of it. “Imagine” by John Lennon is one of my “anthems.”

    This is not the world I “fought” for…something has gone terribly wrong and it didn’t start with 9/11, Vietnam, HUAC, the Depression or even the “Red Scare” during the Palmer years. (Like the HUAC but back in 1919.) Heck, this stuff was going on when Andrew Jackson was elected president and let us not forget the War Between The States. It has had a snowball effect throughout the years of our nation’s history but the fires of fury have been whipped into a frenzy yet again and it is time for all of us to just step back. Turning off televisions and radio talk shows would help a whole lot too.

    We can’t do this for everyone but we can do it for ourselves and Kerri I applaud you for taking this step. When you are knocking on “60s” door you will be glad you decided to do this because you will be a stronger, healthier and more spiritual being because you took this action. You will be able to look back and see how things have changed for the better.

    The great divide will be healed one person at a time and maybe by our actions we can help others to move toward laying down their swords also. Wouldn’t the be nice?

    Deep Peace to you and yours!

  4. My Dear Kerri, you have missed the answer and it lies within the very words you have written. ” the small group of people who ran on the platform that “government is bad,” and see them failing epically to do their jobs of governing”

    They have not failed to do their job, they have been successful in honoring their campaign slogans and rhetoric. They declared government is evil without any redeeming properties and resolved that by closing it.

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