During my first year of graduate school I spent a lot of time walking. After poorly planning out my schedule I had plenty of time on my hands and at that point I had not met many other people. So in short, I had a lot of free time on my hands. To fill this time I decided I would walk to and from class everyday rather than driving or riding my bike.
Although this only amounted to 30-45 minutes a day, it turned out to be a surprisingly profound experience.
Walking gives you space.
Walking clears your mind.
Walking gives you a sense of moving forward while still being present to your current condition.
Walking gave me time every day to process, question, understand, and grow. It allowed me to acknowledge exactly where I was at and in the same moment process the next steps to reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, or whatever response was necessary to my situation at that time.
In the times that we now find ourselves in the United States I think many of us are asking, “What do we do now?”
Not that I know exactly how to respond to a situation like this either but I have one suggestion: we keep walking.
By this I mean that we mustn’t stagnate. We must not let our anger, disappointment, fear, or disgust keep us from moving forward. If nothing else, this election was a display of fear and anger coming out on top. Hateful rhetoric and angry words stirred a population of our society and led to this current situation. If you are in opposition to the results, you must not respond with the same anger and hatred. Any thought of redemptive violence must be suppressed and denounced for the myth that it is. The only response, although perhaps the most difficult, is to confront this movement with grace and mercy for the purpose of love and peace for all.
I in no way am advocating doing nothing. Quite the contrary. To keep walking means that you must do something; do not stand still and do not sprint out of control. Simply keep walking.
For some this may mean literally walking in protest. Yes, do that. We have freedom in this great country to express ourselves and that right must be expressed now. But do it not out of hate for those you may deem responsible for this outcome but out of love for those who have been marginalized by it.
For others to keep walking means to keep putting in the time and the ground work at the local level of government. In fact, this is where we all should be putting a great deal of focus. Our vote carries the most weight at the local level. Our voices carry the most authority when speaking in front of people who know us. If you want to have an impact on the way this country is run then the absolute most effective way is to start at the local level.
Finally, I think many of us were dumbfounded at this outcome. What does this mean? It means many of us are completely out of touch with a large population of our country. It means the media is out of touch with a large population of our country. And whether you agree with them or not, this population feels very strongly that they have been left out, their voices have not been heard, their needs have not been met, and that they have finally had their voices heard through this election. So rather than letting this event further deepen the divide, I believe now is the necessary and perfect time for empathy. Now is the time to acknowledge, meet, and try to understand this population. The results of this election are not random; they speak to a growing feeling of contempt for the way our government has been run for the past few years.
We must not at this time try to demonize or vilify these people. That is the easy way out. That will, in the end, be incredibly unproductive.
Rather we must use this time, this current political climate, to understand. We must try to empathize with these people and let their perspective inform us of their feelings, of their issues, and of their anger. This I believe is the more difficult response but the only response that will allow good to come from even this.
So may you not be stagnate nor rash but rather may you keep walking with a steady stride, a heart for others, and with the intent of reconciliation.
Grace and mercy ⇒ peace and love.