It's February in Western New York State and the skies seem even grayer this year than in winter's past. I find myself talking with friends and colleagues that are experiencing a new type of anxiety and depression. I must admit, I'm extremely uneasy as well. Some of this can still be attributed to the weather and lack of sunshine. However, I'm feeling that much of the distress has to do with our new president and his radical agenda. I get it, the Trump phenomenon was a rebellion. That's what got so many disenfranchised people so fired up to support and vote for him. He ran against a corrupt establishment promising to "drain the swamp" that he claimed had been running our government for too long. As someone who typically admires rebellious men and women who act as change agents, I am deeply troubled by this so called "rebel" who is now occupying the White House. The kind of rebel I admire is highly principled, honorable and cares about a cause greater than his or herself. Trump is an unhinged con man, who cares only about himself and his "ratings". Since election day and his stunning upset victory, I have experienced a wide range of emotions. I've felt outraged and terrified for my children's future. I have conversations on a daily basis with many people that can't believe this is happening in the United States of America. In the midst of this very dark time, I see a light emerging on the horizon in the form of a rebellion I haven't seen since my youth, when I actively protested the Viet Nam War. How I plan to participate going forward is in the spirit of two of the greatest rebels of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King. These spiritual giants affected great change in India and the USA without any violence whatsoever, never firing a single shot! I recently had an awakening and realized I couldn't fight anger with anger . I will be actively involved in resisting the Trump agenda with civility and kindness . My commitment is to do so in the spirit of non-violent love and compassion following the examples of Gandhi and the Reverend King.
As I reflect on what it means to truly Live and Rebel I have come to realize that embracing Love and Compassion is the path to personal freedom as well as a means to help heal our hurting planet. In my rebellious youth, I believed my anger against the establishment would affect change in the world. I have come to learn that anger begets more anger, love and compassion beget more love and compassion. According to the Dalai Lama in his article entitled "Living the Compassionate Life": "The teachings of mindfulness and compassion typically lead to feelings of kindness and self -confidence. Positive action inevitably leads to inner strength. Greater inner strength leads to less fear and more self-confidence. With our inner strength, we have a far greater ability to extend our sense of caring across all cultural and religious barriers." This will potentially bring much needed healing to a world that is currently riddled with so much fear.
At every level of society, be it our families, nation or planet, the key to a happier and more successful world is growing our compassion. For me this speaks to Living as much or more than Rebelling. You may be asking how do we become more compassionate beings? For this rebel, it starts with becoming quiet, going into the silence with meditation and prayer. It’s doesn’t require that we become “religious” nor believe in any particular ideology. The development of our good human qualities, leads to the cultivation of individual happiness which can profoundly contribute to the overall improvement of the entire human family.