Love Thy Neighbors

I got drunk with a couple of neighbors Monday night. It happened unexpectedly as we joined forced to do some work for our annual shareholders’ meeting, and I was happy for the opportunity to get to know these people better. The conversation revolved around our sense of disbelief and devastation after the election, and the fear of how this is going to play out over the next few years. With drinks in hand it quickly got passionate — perhaps even a little heated at times — as we parsed facts from feelings and tried to sort out how things could possibly go so wrong. Our different backgrounds brought welcome nuance to the conversation and it is also, I believe, what kept us from going into full-on hate-mode. Because rage is bubbling under the surface — and sometimes above it too — for so many of us. No matter how hard I try to not feed it, I am beyond furious at every single person who cast their ballot for this despicable human specimen. I do not give one flying fuck what made these people think it was a good decision to do so. And I will forever wonder how the hell anyone in their right mind could vote for this goddamn asshole.

But this anger… It’s a fire that will eat everything in its way if it’s not handled well. And as good as it can feel sometimes, the act of blaming is phenomenally destructive, if not outright harmful. This is something I no longer want in my life. So instead I try to remind myself of this formidable paragraph from Thomas Moore’s book “Care of the Soul:”

Whenever we place blame, we are looking for a scapegoat for a real dislocation which is difficult to find and in which we ourselves, as individuals and as a society, are implicated. Blame is a defensive substitute for an honest examination of life that seeks guidance in our mistakes. Fundamentally it is a way of averting consciousness of error.

As awful as it feels to admit it, this is the truth right there: no matter who we voted for, we must all bear some of the responsibility for the results in this election. And we must also accept that there may be no one single group or reason for why so many people in this country thought it reasonable to elect hate and destruction into office. None of this is going to be easy, but it has to be done. And we are going to have to do it together.

The evening ended first for me (I was the oldest one in the group…) as the others headed outside for a smoke. I was pretty exhausted by the time I walked the 15 steps back to my own apartment, but I was grateful and alleviated as I did so. To know the passion and care of my next-door neighbors matters to me. And as we begin what feels like a Sisyphusian push of the rock uphill again, these are people I want to be around. They give me hope.

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