Rumi And The Election

Rumi and the Election

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,

there is a field. I'll meet you there."


Today feels like the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The epicenter was 5 miles away from my home. What was solid ground instantly became a trampoline with nothing to hold on to. Furniture slammed into walls and dishes smashed to the floor. Without electricity it was pitch black. Every car alarm within 50 miles screamed. 3 of the 4 walls in my apartment were floor to ceiling glass vibrating loudly, threatening to explode. I couldn’t see.

I ran outside and waves from the swimming pool drenched me as I searched for my neighbors. I needed to be with somebody. I needed help.

There have been a few times in my life when my known reality has been shattered. They were times of great upheaval filled with the possibility of rapid growth and strengthening. Forced to respond to a trauma without a familiar anchor, I had to invent something new. A different, better, upgraded response.

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States is one of those times.

I’ve always believed that the personal is the political, and I am challenged to forge a new response to this shocking event.

I know a few things today.

First, My response must contribute to the common good.

Second, The reality that Change is Here, Now, is a new anchor. With the rest of the you, I am no longer in denial about the realities the produced this event. You know what they are. To sink back into complacency and allow the media culture to shape us will drag us backwards into the dark past. It’s our job as citizens to wake up, remain alert, pivot in the moment with our own response that meets reality.

Third, The help I need to both give and receive is available.

Fourth, Great seismic shifts demand great poetry! Who better than Rumi, the transcendent, practical 13th Century mystical poet who invites us to enter a shared experience where we can all get along as whole, different human beings. In a way Rumi’s field feels like the promise of America.

Great field, right? Rumi isn’t just beckoning us to a pretty, ephemeral, virtual, photoshopped field. He is tough, practical and unequivocal that the price of admission demands the sacrifice of the lazy, easy polemic of right and wrong, no matter how great the temptation. It’s a real place in the human experience, Rumi’s been there, so have others, but today it's mostly uninhabited in our political life.

Experiencing those different from “us” as “the other” and the ever popular denial which invites us to remain in a consensus trance because waking up is too much work is what has created today’s reality. Throwing rocks at the enemy seems like a powerful act, but it actually weakens both the victor and the vanquished. It’s prehistoric, and doesn’t work.

We can't afford it.

Fifth, We must “strengthen the things that remain”* while inventing the new. I am reassured that I will be helped by those in leadership at the national, state and local levels who will fight for the values of inclusivity and equal opportunity to thrive that I believe in. That knowing strengthens me. I will help them. They will help me.

Sixth, Every problem is soluble. I challenge us to have the courage tell the truth, about everything, personal and political. The SECOND you frame a clear statement of truth the solution will crystallize.

Something amazing happened the morning of the earthquake. While the ground was still shaking as I stumbled back to my apartment the phone rang. I picked it up and my mother from Seattle was on the phone desperately needing to know if I was alright. At first she couldn’t get through, but she kept trying and trying, and miraculously, before all the phone lines crashed, we connected with each other. Instantly we were transported into Rumi’s field and found comfort.

My mom was strong, courageous, and loving. Finally, against all odds, she lived a life that was her own. She was funny, too, and always loved sayings. Here’s one that has come to mind many times during this awful, coarse campaign:

“Never wrestle with a pig. You both get all dirty, and the pig loves it.”

Remember my mom and resist the temptation to wrestle in the arena of us vs. them as our driver. We’ll just continue to get slimed. I join you in riding the crest of global, national, local and personal change as we help each other strengthen the core values that remain while inventing a new personal and national identity.

With effort we will forge a tough personal/political response that is bigger than the problems we face. We can’t afford to demonize Donald Trump as we unequivocally fight for our values. It’s tricky, but essential! Rumi did it. So can we. This is the new way to help.

This effort is my responsibility to my American Citizenship.


*Bob Dylan - from the album: Slow Train Comin'


LA AUTHENTIC WOMEN'S GROUP: November 27th, 2016



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