All day I avoided the TV and Facebook. I dropped the kids off and went about my daily routine.
Then my brother called. My brother never calls. As soon as I heard his voice I asked “So, do you have a reason to move here to Australia now?” He laughed. My heart sank.
Trump hadn’t won yet, but it was close. Too close. I picked the girls up and killed time with a friend after school. I came home a few hours later and by that time it was clear. Trump won. I put the kids in front of the TV and poured a glass of vodka soda water.
I was numb.
You know that feeling when you face something about yourself that really isn’t pretty? That shameful, wretched feeling that rips at your guts? That’s how I was feeling. I could see that I had kept myself in denial. I didn’t want to believe that so many people could side with a person that is totally opposite to my values, and I think I can safely say I wasn’t alone in that.
For days I’ve been grieving.
I’ve seen so many on Facebook dismiss people’s grief with ‘focus on yourself/you only have control of your actions/one person does not direct your whole life’ or some variation thereof. Of course it starts on a personal level. However, that sort of dismissive attitude is exactly what’s gotten us here, in this moment.
We are all born with basic goodness. And we are all born with a “shadow” side. I prefer not to name it as ‘bad’ because it’s not, or at least it doesn’t have to be….
As the hours passed I pondered how Trump is the reflection of our collective shadow. I drained my glass and got sucked in to Facebook looking for a connection to home, wishing I was there with my family and friends. There I saw posts of hope, angry posts, hopeless posts, fearful posts, posts with silver linings–the whole gamut. The whole human experience.
For days I felt everything within me: rage, disgust, judgement, dismay, self-righteousness, superiority, vengefulness, fear. There was no hope yet. I hated that one thought kept occurring to me: these were exactly the feelings that drove many of Trump’s supporters. We had that much in common.
Which got me thinking of the Native American parable of an Elder telling a young boy of the two wolves inside that are at war–one ‘good’ and the other ‘bad.’ When the boy asks which one wins, the Elder replies ‘the one you feed.’
But what would happen if you actually starved a wolf? It would be pissed off, angry, and ravenous.
So, what if there is no ‘bad’ wolf? What if we didn’t ignore what was there? For days I sat with this. For days I thought about Trump and all the shadow that he’s exposed–not just in his followers, but in many of the people that oppose him, including myself.
I remembered back to times when I let my shadow overtake me because of wounds I had not worked through. I also reflected on an incident recently when I felt enraged and defensive. A person was talking about alcoholics. You may not know, but my father was an alcoholic and I happened to love him very much. I could feel that old familiar feeling of rage simmering at hearing this person’s words, but this time because I had learned to work with that energy, I was able to contain it and use it in a more useful way. Instead of ripping someone’s head off, I was able to speak my Truth lovingly but with conviction.
The energy was the same, but I was different.
Our shadow qualities are just energy. We are the ones who make them ‘wrong’ when we could instead learn to work with them, rather than trying to make them go away. These shadow qualities are actually there to protect us, so they are to be honored.
If I were to come back to the wolf parable and rewrite it based on my heart’s understanding it would go like this:
A grandmother sits with her granddaughter kneading bread. She tells her “Since the beginning of time we have been gifted with two wolves by our side. On our left side sits the light wolf. The creator. On the right is the shadow wolf. The protector.
Many people favor one over the other. However, they both serve a purpose. Ignore either and you will be out of balance.
We need the shadow to protect the creatress, but ignored this wolf becomes angry and vengeful. We need the light to create the life and world we desire, but ignore this wolf and we lose it’s gentle touch. The shadow’s energy is there to protect what light creates and light is there to tend to the shadow’s wounds. Kindness, compassion, and gentleness cannot survive without a fierce commitment to protecting Love. Yes, we must use our all of our energy in the name of Love, for it needs all the strength that we have.
“Honor one wolf as you would the other and use their energies wisely.”
The past months I’ve been watching as the Native Americans come together to protect Standing Rock. I see them not as the ‘good wolf against the bad wolf’ but as having fully integrated both wolves. They are a force of Love–strong, fierce, protecting–laying aside their differences and standing together in peace and harmony.
In the wake of this election we can choose not to waste our energy stuck in emotions such as fear, self-righteousness, and anger. We can take the energy behind those emotions and transform them into fuel for taking a stand on our values. When we do that we use our voices to speak in service of Love.
In his book The Road Less Travelled M. Scott Peck discusses Love. There is a whole section on the subject, but the part that I recalled and that I feel is important within this context is this:
“Everyone in our culture desires to some extent to be loving, yet many are not in fact loving….Love is as Love does. Love is an act of will–namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love….whenever we do actually exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so.”
He also says that Love does not necessarily include affection. We don’t even have to like a person to act lovingly. How do ya like them apples?! That threw me when I first read it, but this election has really made it clear to me.
What I have taken from this election is that our personal and collective spiritual path over the coming years, our choice, is Love in action.
To manifest change, to develop spiritually, we must get clear: the path of Love is work. We must continue to work on our inner Wolves. We must recognize the shadow in ourselves so we can gently shine light on it and heal individually and collectively. No doubt, to Love those we disagree with takes great effort. To Love through our differences is a choice. To listen with the intent of finding our common values requires dedication.
Post-election I’ve heard people throwing around the word unity a lot, many while telling others to get over their feelings and fears. Open your hearts and your ears to one another. Unity, my friends, takes Love and Love is a verb.
So, let’s get to it!
My name is Shawna, and I am a Spiritual and Environmental Activist. If you are unfamiliar with my work, have a peek around my website to learn more about me. These days I’m most passionate about the Sacred Earth portion of my business. If you like what you see, I’d love to talk to you. Fill in the form below and let’s be in touch!