I was asked that today. I was asked that and I felt my burden as clergy and as a spiritworker settle upon me. But this was not a pagan asking. This was not a member of my congregation. This was just a distant friend who I was having coffee with to talk about relationship struggles. We got to talking about the election, and how upset her son was about the election. She asked me if it was really that bad. Trump is our new president elect. The House and the Senate are both majority Republican. So what? Except that we are presented with real challenges. Except that Republicans, by and large, are not interested in climate change, protecting minorities, women’s right’s or any of the things that so many of us have been fighting for.
Except for the fact that many of the very talented spiritworkers, priest, and shamans that I know in this community have been seeing dark visions for some time now. I’m not much for dark visions. Even though I’m a spiritworker, I think that prophecies of doom are kind of lame and useless. It’s really easy to say it’s the end of the world. There’s always going to be various prophecies of the end times and people who decide to drink the blue kool-aid. But now some of that prophetic stuff has come true, things we all thought were crazy. It’s terrifying. It’s as if I woke up to find out that Lex Luthor was real and was president. It’s a bad joke, but it’s real. I told that to my friend in her beautiful home with coffee and sun streaming in through the windows.
I felt like a crazy person, but I said it. It had to be said. She didn’t mock me. She didn’t disagree. She just nodded with a serious look on her face and asked:
Where is the hope?
We humans. We are so strong and so fragile. The tale of Pandora tells us that after she opened the jar (It wasn’t a box guys, It was a jar) and released all the evil spirits into the world, there was one thing left: hope. Hope is what we have at the bottom. When we don’t know what else to have or to hang on to, we look to hope. Amazingly enough, I knew where to look. It scares me. This hope I have to share does not ease my mind.
To explain this hope, let me explain what I have seen or thought in my mind. There are many possibilities in any situation, far more than just two or three. As we get farther and farther forward in time the possibilities expand until there is no telling what will happen. Those spiritworkers who look to the future possibilities have been seeing a shape where there are very bad possibilities. There are also less bad possibilities. There are very few good long term possibilities. But the shape of that future is not what one might expect. It’s not a linear spectrum of good to bad.
In fact the possible shape of the future seems more like this:
The Really Really bad seems to be a black hole sucking everything into it. I don’t really like pondering it much. But the next worst outcomes are not right next door. They are not the most similar to the worst. They divide early and go off on their own fairly nasty tangent as the grouping of possibilities I labeled “Pretty Bad”. Then there’s those three little lines in the middle. Hard work and struggle echoes off of them when I focus there, but so does joy and love.
People have told me that they have seen this kind of election before. That it looks a lot like the election of Ronald Reagan. To them I say, “Yes. It does, and that’s really bad.” If we are honest about the ecological and energy crises facing us I think we can say that if Carter had won the presidency, it’s likely we would have had policies that would have created a now that didn’t look so much like, well, this. So yes, this does matter. This is for real, but it’s too late now, and what is likely a backlash against a black president and the possibility of a woman president has now given us a government that may well be more dangerous for many people.
I can hear you think, “Wow, that’s all kind of depressing. Where’d that hope go?!”
Actually it’s in my infographic of probable futures. That big bubble of Really Really Bad is next to a couple of lines that actually bounce off the edge of it and are the best possible outcomes. In my mind it is very similar to a satellite using a gravity assist to slingshot out into space. But this time, it is the gravity of our situation that might, maybe, just maybe slingshot us into action.
I started this post by talking about the burden I felt settling on my shoulders as I tried to answer the questions posed to me this morning. Now I settle that burden upon each of you who reads this. This is the burden of hope. If you woke up this morning dismayed by our political outcomes then you are a part of this. You know what I’m talking about. There are others who would probably label my little hand drawn chart very differently. Those are the people who would gladly put African Americans back in their “proper” place, who think that my vote is merely an unfair double voting advantage for my husband, people who would murder someone for being transgender. These people exist. They are not some fictional boogeyman. 63% of white men and 53% of white women voted for Trump. I walked through the grocery store today looking people in the eye, wondering, who did you vote for?
The burden of hope is this: now is the time. In geological time a decade is an eyeblink. In generational time, it is a gesture of the hand, a slow wave, now is not just tomorrow, but the day after that, and the years that follow. Each and every one of us must ask ourselves, “What can I do?” and even more importantly, “What can we do?”
The burden of hope is that we are the superheroes that we are waiting for. There is no Superman. Only us. The outcomes of last night have closed off many possibilities. Hope makes us look for new ones. My world has changed in this short time. I know I must take action, this blog post is only a first small step. How do we make a world that is sustainable? How do we make a world that protects all our people? The government isn’t going to do it for us. The evils that Pandora released are looming large. I will make my own hope, but it only works when we do it together. I hope you are with me.