The elections – WOW— what an exciting week it has been.
On Tuesday night I plopped down in my favorite chair hoping to watch my team the Democrats win the presidency. But as the hours passed their offence was scoring few points. It was starting to feel like a bad déjà vu to me, when just like in 2016 the map of the U.S. was being refreshed in red with only a few states turning blue. At 11:00 p.m., I was feeling quite depressed, so I called it a night and went to bed.
When I woke up a few hours later early Wednesday morning, I checked my phone for updates and there was still no change in the score. It was sure looking like Trump was going to win again. I, for one, needed to mentally prepare for this disappointment and find a way to disperse my anger and anxiety. And the only way for me to do this was to meditate about it.
I rolled out of bed, lit a few candles and sat down on my cushion. As the soft light flickered in the solitude of the room, I was able to calm my thoughts within a few minutes. And when my anxiety was tamed, I turned my thoughts towards a concept in life which helps me get though these tough times of uncertainty; the idea of impermanence.
Change is inevitable
I first learned about the concept of impermanence through Buddhism. Impermanence is the unspoken “law” which acknowledges that everything in life is in a continual state of flux. Situations come and go; things are perpetually transforming themselves from one form into another; and even our thoughts and emotions can quickly form and dissipate like clouds drifting across the sky. Simply accepting this impermanence to life has the power to bring individuals peace of mind. Whereas, fighting and resisting change can lead to tremendous emotional turmoil.
Christianity offers its own interpretation of impermanence. When I was a Christian, I often reflected on the changes that occur in life and called these words to mind:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. – A Christian prayer
As a freethinker, I can relate to both the Buddhist and Christian concepts regarding impermanence, although I’d be inclined to dismiss the first line in the Christian prayer. But this is because I don’t rely on a supernatural source to make changes in my life that I can otherwise do myself. In other words, “I” need to personally accept the things in life I can’t change; “I” have to make positive changes in the world; and it is up to me to acquire the wisdom to know the kind of changes I need to make.
Regarding the presidential elections of 2020 …
Well, acknowledging the concept of change can bring a lot of comfort to both the winners and the losers. There is a time for everything, and this is the time for those who voted for Biden and Harris to enjoy the moment. This victory is sweet, and if you voted for the winning team take a few days or weeks to savor the victory just like Trump supporters enjoyed the victory four years ago.
For those who voted for Trump, this is not the end of the world. The defeat stings, of course, but allowing hatred or anger to fester will only inflame the disappointment. Here’s where acknowledging the impermanence of all things – even the consequences of elections – can help. Because four years from now you will have the opportunity to vote again, and your candidate might just win.
In the meantime, as Americans, we are all very fortunate to live in a democracy that supports fair elections. Despite how divided we all seem to be, we are still privileged to be governed by citizen representatives, which abide by our constitution, and who also govern within a political system that may just be the best in human history. Not only is our election system sound and trustworthy, but so is our democracy.