Tuesday, October 11, 2016



There are many who are stepping out of social media for the rest of the election season. I understand their frustration, their need to turn away from the negativity. I’m choosing to stay, not because I have a statement to make about a particular candidate, but because I don’t want the shadow to dominate. I’m not staying to debate or change anyone’s vote. I’m staying because I know the light is stronger than the dark, but I also know that you can’t see the light if you hide it “under a bushel.” From my perspective what we are seeing in the United States (and in other countries as well) is a battle of epic proportions between our shadow side and the light within.

I don’t think I’m over dramatizing when I say epic. It is a time when we clearly get to choose, not just in the election cycle, though it is amplified there, between indulging our shadow side like petulant children, or acknowledging it with grace, and choosing clearly to set it aside. For we all have a shadow side, a side that wants its own way, that wants to dabble in what might be harmful for ourselves and others, that thinks it should be able to say whatever it wants no matter the consequences. Yet, we all have a light within as well, a light that can guide us surely and truly, and that can be a blessing for others when it shines into dark places.

That’s what social media has become of late, a dark place. A place where people feel they can indulge that shadow side without risk of consequences, because they don’t have to speak to anyone’s face, and so see or feel their reactions. The boundaries of civil discourse become blurred or non-existent. But from my perspective that is the time to shine all the more brightly, to act all the more civilly, to choose all the more consciously to set aside the shadow. We have an opportunity to choose to stand in the full light of high noon and allow that shadow to be minimal and fall away behind us. Or we can choose to dwell in the darkness of that shadow, and give in to the basest part of ourselves. I prefer high noon.

However, to borrow from social media parlance, I like everyone else, have had many moments lately of WTF? But in this battle between the light within and the shadow we cast, I have found a different definition for WTF. What’s the Fear? Because for me that’s what this is all about, fear. Our shadow is cast by our fears, and we have many. Right now those fears are very loud for many, and they are being expressed with vigor.

The problem is that when we deny our fears and push them down, they simply grow in the darkness waiting for a moment to rear their ugly heads. Which is exactly what they are doing now on a large scale.

Therefore, I think our first step towards any sort of healing and unification is to take an honest look at those fears. WTF, What’s the Fear? Denying that your neighbor has a right to his or her fear, whether it is rational or not, won’t make the fear go away, or bring you closer together. Has telling someone who is afraid of heights that there is no reason to be afraid because they are perfectly safe there on that ferris wheel, ever actually eliminated their fear? That fear is still very real for that person, as they are for us and our neighbors.

I suggest we try something we might not have tried before. Maybe we can simply ask someone what their fear is. Because make no mistake, fear is what is driving this election and the mood in our country, consciously with forethought, and unconsciously. The cause of the fear varies; fear of people who have a different skin color, or a different religion, or a different bank account balance, fear of not having enough or losing what little you already have, fear of losing power and privilege. We don’t have to debate whose fear is more legitimate or whether they are unfounded. We simply have to acknowledge we have them, and attempt to empathize. Through empathy, which has been sadly lacking of late in our public discourse, we can begin to again have civil conversations about what we have in common, and how we can address our concerns and fears. Only then can we find real solutions and live peacefully with our neighbors.

So, WTF, my friend?