I’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.