I’m writing this post at 5am on Tuesday, November 8, Election Day. By the time it goes live at 5am on Wednesday, we will hopefully know who our new president will be. Here at the monastery, as everywhere else in America, we have experienced a great deal of anxiety about this election. The amount of hatred and anger that has surfaced has surprised me. Or, rather, it has surprised me how openly people have let their bigotry and hatred show. It has generally not been acceptable to display openly such violence and prejudice. I realize from talking with my non-white and non-male friends that they have always seen the racism and misogyny that have been on blatant display this year. It’s a large part of my privilege as a white man that I have not, even as I have sensed it lurking in our collective shadow.
Much as I am praying and hoping that Hillary Clinton is our new president, her victory in the electoral college will not fix our common woes. The violence, bigotry, despair, and anxiety we have experienced during this election cycle is ours to own and ours to transform. And it really is ours. We are all responsible for creating and maintaining a system that feeds on division, narcissism, and blame.
We are all connected to one another, bound up in the mystical body of Christ. This statement is not mere religious trope. It is metaphysical reality. Much as we might wish to divide ourselves from what we see as malignancy in our social body, to do so is to cut off essential pieces of our own body. If there is malignancy–and there certainly is–then it is in our own hearts as much as in the hearts of those people over there.
We can never divide ourselves from one another without dividing ourselves from Christ. That is why all social and political action must first arise from a deep inner experience of God that changes and softens our own hearts. Before we confront evil in the world around us, we must first see that such evil lives within us. We are not separate from those we would condemn, nor are they separate from God.
I am reminded of a retelling of the story of St. George and the dragon. There is a town being attacked by a dragon. Moved by the plight of these townsfolk, George rushes the dragon with his lance, fatally wounding him. But before the dragon falls, its claws cut George down, killing him. The townsfolk mourn George and bathe his body with their tears, bringing him back to life. The story ends by proclaiming that the healing of the world will come when the townsfolk then mourn for the dragon and bathe his body, too, with their tears.
None of us will be saved unless and until we are all saved. The sooner we learn not to divide ourselves from one another, the sooner we will move toward the healing that our world so desperately needs.
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