Thursday, January 26, 2017

Have a Nice Day

A Facebook friend quoted his Facebook friend:
"For the people who are annoyed with all the political stuff on Facebook: must be nice to only feel mildly irritated right now. Because as Trump makes move after move to rapidly shape this country into one that is overtly hostile to them and the people they love, many people are terrified right now. They would trade it for being annoyed in a heartbeat. So, sorry for the inconvenience."
Then the first friend added:
“Turning away is the definition of privilege, folks.”

Then I added:

“We can no longer be the "have a nice day" culture. We need to shift to "have an involved/ informed/ truth-seeking/ truth-telling/ people-caring/ politically active/ spiritually-awakening/ artistically beautiful/ courageously conversational/ willing to be outraged/ willing to listen/ willing to draw-the-line/ etc. day." Though a bit long for the restaurant hosts to memorize.”

I noticed some Facebook folks prefacing posts with apologies like: “Sorry to post something political here…” I’m thinking, “Yes, how dare you talk about something that can impact the lives of thousands/ millions of people, including you, now or down the line?! Don’t you know I really wanted to hear what you had for dinner? And the story about your sore shoulder? ”

Another posts: “This will be a spiritual, not a political post.” Yes, because Jesus stayed in his room and meditated while the moneylenders transacted business in the temple. And Gandhi preferred to monitor his biorhythms instead of having to deal with those nasty British.

Okay, I get it, politics is a dirty business. It divides neighbors, makes Thanksgiving dinners unbearable, brings us down into a muck we’d rather not step in. But it needn’t be a dirty word. It dates back to Aristotle’s day, the Greek “polos” the word for city, poloitik√≥s—a citizen, a civilian, politikee—affairs of the state, the science of government. When democracy rose up, the civic responsibility of citizens to be informed, involved and actively shaping the government that shapes their lives in turn, became part of the deal. And never more so than now. If we have to do it, let's do it from a wider perspective than mere allegiance to dogma, take the opportunity to reflect on, name and stand by our highest values. 

Again, I get it. I’d rather play Bach and Monk all day long instead of having to call my Senator, the privilege to do so came from the hard work and sacrifices of others down in the political muck. If we all agree to shoulder our share of the burden, the load will be lighter.

I also get that the problems we face are not political alone. There are necessary conversations neither side of any political divide is having and there are spiritual solutions to human problems that are real and necessary. No political decision alone has ever brought peace and happiness. But many political decisions have made it possible for people to engage in the spiritual struggles, the self-reflections, the personal relationships with others that also demand our attention. It’s time to do away with the categories. Humanism is political, politics are spiritual, genuine art is humanistic, every act of authentic care and truth-telling is all of the above.

No more “have a nice day” please. Have a hell-raisin’ and heaven-blessing day. There, restaurant hosts, that’s short enough. Try it out.

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