I live, by luck and by choice, a very quiet life. Lots of talk, and lots of laughing, retired to my tend my garden, and my friends. Which may be why stumbling on the videos taken outside McCain/Palin rallies felt like such a physical blow, a punch to my stomach. Shouts and screams -- no other word -- "Traitor!" "Terrorist!" "Murderer!" A man who looks like my grandfather, holding up a stuffed monkey with an Obama hat, saying "This is little Hussein. I'm taking him in to hear real Americans." Over and over, TERRORIST! BABY-KILLER! Who are these people?
Pema Chodron writes about what we do when we feel anxiety inside our hearts; that anxiety is a way to learn about ourselves and to grow, but we all have a well-stocked list of ways to quickly move away from the pain of change. We reach for the phone, or the tv remote, or the computer mouse, or a book, or a chocolate, or a glass of wine would be nice right now, and I've got to watch that Netflix soon..... She suggests trying to wait, ever so briefly at first, with the anxiety, before stepping away. Perhaps just a breath or two.
Those people going to hear Sarah Palin are not The Other. They are terrified, and are trying to make themselves feel safe by making Obama -- and me and my friends -- The Other. We're not. They're not. That's a basic belief of my heart. But watching that video I could not feel that. I was horrified, not just by their mistaken ideas, but by THEM.
A wonderful opportunity, in a quiet life, to use Chodron's suggestion in a vivid situation, one that brings up strong feelings. Start the video, recoil from one individual. Pause the video, looking at that person.
Try it again -- or quit YouTube and go to cuteoverload.