I am wanting to speak of both my experience of the last few weeks and my learning.
As many of you know I have become politically active in the community I have decided to call home.
This decision was made to honor a dear friend’s death. Linda Michal Hawks taught me you have to show up. Her death opened my heart to what she modeled, what we accomplished and what I want moving forward. It was a message of celebrating diversity. Not just tolerating …but celebrating. There is a a world of difference in these words.
The decision was also made because I believe in good governance (genetics from my mom) and more selfishly because I wanted to meet like-minded folks. My new community is conservative and many of my beliefs would not be considered a match. Yet, I enjoy living rurally and riding my horse in communities where ranching is important and where values of spiritual belief, helping each other and work ethic are held dear. Something very special exists in small towns.
And then there was a virus that kept me home. Living alone can be tough sometimes and this has been both a setup for fear and a nexus for choice and self-awareness. I relied on my Facebook friends to feel connected. I noticed patterns of posts, issues of concern from folks I have come to trust. My voice has curiously been strengthened as I embraced that wearing a mask could be experienced as a statement of community support not an act of fear as some would assert.
Amidst all of this I continued to call out an elected official who didn’t understand nor seem to care about conflict of interest issues nor the oath of office he took. He called for social gathering when the health experts advised otherwise. He politicized a virus well before government overreach became a topic of the locals. Additional words were self-serving to his business, partisan and incendiary. For many months I have attempted to influence this official personally, privately, publicly without naming, publicly with naming. My worst fears have been realized in the last few weeks as his escalating inflammatory hate speech has now led to responses of threat to my county. I now am calling on the pillars of the community to step up and denounce hate. I continue to wear a mask to protect others …and I can tell you at temperatures of 100 degrees it is miserable.
This is all mixed up with a recent and very contentious state legislative session when proposed red flag laws elicited constitutional rights arguments and a primal assault to many in my community. Above described individual started calling for people to come to protests armed and prepared to fight. Ghosts of vigilantes but passionately believed.
I have been a lifelong pacifist and person terrified of guns. This is part of my hospice learning that all life is sacred. I have also been a counselor and believe that what we most fear can actually be a road sign to what we should move toward – In essence a healing for what holds power over us.
Bottom line I bought a revolver and I am learning to give it due respect in careful and safe instruction. My community celebrates safe gun use and it is both a joining effort and an overcoming fear exercise. My goals are to be able to kill a rattlesnake and to stop a home intruder. Do I feel safer? Am I empowered? Verdict is still out.
There is a local Girl and a Gun chapter that I joined that exposes me to like minds and worst fears. Unbeknownst to that group, I also joined a national Liberal Gun Club. “Liberal” is not a popular word here and I am working up courage to wear my identifying cap to the gun range where I am practicing. This is one of the the push-pulls of my current life both weaving my convictions with reality and creating a path for my future hopes in a chosen community. This can be very confusing and treacherous!
I am a reasonable voice. At least I think I am and I agonize over words that will open dialogue, bridge differences and avoid fueling hatefulness. Basically and spiritually I see myself as a peacemaker. I make mistakes and try to hear people when they call me on it.
As we enter an election season in an already divisive climate I see trouble ahead. It is a perfect storm. I increasingly find myself trying to decide whether and when to keep my head down or stand up. I know I will be tested.
I know this confluence of perceptions is about my heart cracking open and the sacred messages are pouring in. Writing helps me see this.
And then I witnessed the death of George Floyd
See Part 2 : What Young People Teach