Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mustering up faith... and agency

There is an energy and anticipation all around. There is also a great deal of fear and uncertainty. I smell fear everywhere. Anxiety too. A collective holding in of our breaths until Election Day. We're on high alert, wondering what will happen to us, our families, communities, country, world. A lot is riding on the outcome. Sure, but a lot is riding on how we respond to whatever happens. A lot rests on us.

This is where I think faith comes in. Faith in the Divine and faith in ourselves. Hear me out.

Where we live in Altanta, African Americans have come out in record numbers to vote early. The other day, Ms. Mary, a diabetic neighbor shared how she stood hungry in line for over two hours to cast her vote. It didn't matter how long it took. She (a lady in her sixties) knows that this vote is significant. She also added that she wasn't sure how the elections would turn out. She is not sure America is ready for Obama. Many people, especially people of color, are indeed fearful of the "Bradley effect." Let us call it what it is: racism. We are afraid to trust the polls. There is a great deal of skepticism all over the world about what will actually happen on Tuesday. They wonder if voters will cast their ballots out of hope or fear, knowledge or ignorance. Who knows? A fear of the unknown is understandable in some ways, and that might be just what impacts the so-called "undecided" voters.

Uncertainty can bring on fear. Trust me, I know. What concerns me, though, is fear so strong that it negates hope and undermines faith. Really? Really.

I watched D.L. Hughley last night on his new CNN Show and he showed in not so many words that he is afraid to hope that things will turn out (Obama's Way). What if...? What if something goes wrong? So just in case, millions who share this predicament, are not going to acknowledge the personal and historical ramifications of what is going to happen. Actually, what is happening now and has been for the last twenty months. Precious few are going to express enthusiasm or hope publicly. Nobody is celebrating out in the open. Waiting to see what happens. Just in case it actually does not happen. Not much optimism. Not much faith in the political process. Not much faith. Period.

I have also noticed how we are all in a holding pattern until the 4th. I find myself waiting for the 5th to get to the business of planning our next move. As if the outcome will change what I need to do in my life. I still need to figure out how I will translate my values, passions, gifts into something truly meaningful to me and others. I still need to handle the financial mess we're in. I still need to deal with my own thoughts, fears, hopes, and plans. I still need to overcome varous stumbling blocks to my progress. What does the outcome of the election have to do with the internal work of getting myself in order? If I tune into the truth, it is partly an excuse to not have to deal with myself. Focusing on the outside takes attention away from what's happening on the inside. The two are connected but what matters most is my inner life.

Where do I stand now? I am optimistic about change. Whatever happens, it will be a change. So, I want to focus on how to change gracefully. Whatever happens, only the result will be immediate but the process will unfold over the next four or eight years. And, the process ain't gonna be easy. To state the obvious, whoever the next president is, frankly does not have the answers to my personal predicaments. He is not going to solve my dilemmas. He can't. Only I can (with a whole lot of help from all of you and the Divine).

I am learning to have faith. A few posts ago I spoke about being present and being thankful. How worrying is a sign that we are not being present. Some of letting go of worry has been about letting in faith. This faith I am conjuring up in these uncertain times (and I'm not limiting myself to the elections) is not a belief that things will go the way I want them to. Not at all. I don't believe that life will turn out the way I want. The elections, our lives, work, finances, health, children... you name it.

I honestly believe that whatever happens, will be for the best. I do not mean to sound fatalistic. What I mean is that whatever happens, I will find a way to make the best of it. This kind of faith is not about my will, but following the Will of the Divine. And the gifts of the Divine bestowed on me. I trust. I believe. Even if there is struggle, turmoil and suffering. I know that I have in me what is needed to rise to the changes gracefully. To create the right kind of changes myself. To take charge of my own life.

This holding pattern and waiting for November 5th to take action, is an avoidance of my own my ability to make change in my own life and all around me. Putting so much stock in how the new President (God bless his soul) will get us out of the mess we're in, can be delusional. Frankly he doesn't have that kind of power. The political system is broken and can not fix the complicated mess we are in. Focusing on the political "leaders" of the world in that way, undermines my own agency.

Agency, simply put, is our ability to tap into our own power and create change on our own behalf.
Right now, I choose to muster up faith. Not just in the Divine, but in myself and all of us. I beseech us to make sure that we be the change we are are so eagerly awaiting.

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