In a little over a week, it will be my turn to speak at the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The title i chose is “Unity and Solidarity”, and it sums up what i feel are the two most important things to be living by at this critical juncture in our national and global reality.
I’ll start with solidarity. What that means to me is standing with all those who share my values of the safety and well-being of our planet and all the beings who are part of it, including and especially the humans. I stand for protection of the waters and the forests and the soil and the air. I stand for meeting the basic needs of all human beings for healthy food, clean water, safe shelter, affordable medical care, freedom from hatred and bigotry, reproductive rights, education, right livelihood, and the company of others.At this time in our history, many of those values are seriously threatened. If we are to meet the threats, we must stand together in solidarity. We need to make our voices heard strongly and clearly.
I have just discovered a terrific website called IssueVoter. One can identify the categories of legislation one is interested in, and for each bill related to those, one is given a synopsis of the pro and con arguments on it. Then one votes pro or con, and one’s opinion is transmitted to one’s congressperson as an email. And one sees how one’s choice compared to all the other IssueVoter members who voted on that bill. It looks to me like a large number of the people voting share my values, because our votes match up. I find the value of this twofold; first, it informs me on the legislation that is being proposed on issues that matter to me (and i checked almost ALL the categories!), and second, it lets my congressperson (may he be awakened to what truly matters for the human family and the planet) know how i and others want him to vote.
That’s one way of standing in solidarity for the things we care about. Another is to put our money where our mouth is. I dumped Wells Fargo bank quite awhile back, during Occupy days, and moved my accounts to our local credit union. But one of my strongest values these days is standing with the water protectors at Standing Rock. And the most powerful thing we can do to stop the Dakota Access Pipe Line is to cut off its funding. And that means getting our money, including our usage of credit cards, our of the hands of the big banks. The only credit card i had until today was a Chase Southwest Air Rapid Rewards card. Each month i would charge stuff and pay billls automatically with that card, and pay the whole thing off every month. I would get as many travel rewards, also known as “miles”, as dollars i charged to the card. But Chase is one of the big funders of the pipeline, and also invests in a whole lot of things that are harmful to life.
So i set off on a journey to see if i could find a “good” card that would still give me miles, as that’s the only way i can travel by air. I had a couple of false starts, but then a friend commented on Facebook that the credit card she has through her credit union gave travel rewards. So i called my credit union, First Financial CU here in New Mexico to ask if they have a card that offers that feature, and sure enough they do. Then i called again – twice, to two different customer service people, just to make sure, and asked whether the credit card was underwritten by any banks. The answer both times was no; the card is funded completely by the credit union. Sold! I called in and went through the application process, and in a week or so i’ll have my new Platinum VISA credit card in hand, and i can dump that Chase card.
Another way of voting with our dollars is to buy from local small businesses whenever possible and not patronizing branches of the huge corporations. I used to shop at Walmart for pretty much everything except food, which i buy almost exclusively at our local co-op. I did that because i thought it was convenient to buy everything under one roof. One gigantic roof. But i really wanted to patronize local businesses, so one day i did an experiment. I looked at my list of stuff i needed, and instead of going to Walmart, i went to five different locally-owned stores. And guess what? It didn’t take me any longer than that one long trip to Walmart used to take. And i was able to find everything on my list. I’ve done that ever since.
There are other ways of expressing solidarity, such as standing out in front of the local branch of a big bank with signs urging people to move their money, such as boycotting the inauguration and watching the gonzo concert happening at the same time instead, such as joining marches and processions like the ones scheduled for January 21. Sometimes this will mean putting our bodies on the line. So be it. I have such respect and gratitude for the native peoples taking a stand at Standing Rocke and for all the people who went up to the frozen north to stand with the water protectors, and especially those who came from my own community.
So those are the kinds of actions that i consider to be part of solidarity- standing with my fellow citizens who want to be part of co-creating a better world for all of us and for the Earth.
What about unity? For me, that’s the other side of the coin. It means remembering that we are all One, all of us humans and animals and trees and….all of it. And that includes the people whose thoughts, words, and actions i deem to be harmful. It means not demeaning and ridiculing and judging and hating those people who act in demeaning and ridiculing and judgmental and hateful ways. Oh. Hmmm. So i don’t want to behave in those same ways? Then i’d better start being a compassionate witness to my own thoughts, words, and actions. I’d better make a commitment to myself to remember.
For a few days now i have been doing the practice of ho’oponopono for Donald J. Trump. This practice entails saying to him each day, as a way of ending my morning spiritual practice “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” The first time i did that? Oh, it was hard! But i spent a little time with each phrase and thought about how that could be true. I’m sorry: well, yes, i’m sorry for all the ways that people treated you in such a way that you came to speak and act in the ways that you do. Please forgive me: actually, please forgive all those people that did that to you. Thank you: i’m sure you must have done some good things in your life, and i thank you for those. I love you: wow, the hardest one. Let’s see: i don’t love the face you present to the world, nor your warped and wounded personality. What i do love is the divine spark that lives within you, your soul. No matter how covered up it may be with the rust of decades, it is still there, shining away in the dark, and i love that. As the practice has continued, the first two phrases have come to be much more directly personal: i’m sorry for all the nasty things i’ve thought and said about you. Please forgive me.
And in the name of unity, i must also have compassion and respect for ALL the people who behave in harmful ways, out of greed and pride and ignorance and bigotry and prejudice and hatred. In each and every one is that divine light shining away in the darkness, that soul to be respected. God help me to remember.