Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spiritual Practices for Dealing with Trump

I belong to a spiritual friends group, and at our last meeting one of our members posed the question, “How do we develop spiritual practices to deal with all the hate coming from the Trump administration?”

One thing is that while it’s important to stay informed and be part of forums for discussion on current events, it’s also important not to drown in the barrage of bad news, so put some realistic limits on your exposure.  I know I’ve had to take myself off social media some days as I sank into despair in the constant news of yet another outrage from our new administration and righteous anger from my Facebook friends.

Our group talked about how meditation worked for some people as a coping practice, but not all of us.  For some, meditative practices take the form of yoga or playing the piano, for example, or spiritual reading.

We agreed that as part of our spiritual practice we needed to somehow push back, to feel we were making a difference. Sometimes this will mean taking to the streets again in protest, as some of our members did for the recent Women’s March.  But small but insistent incursions on our communities’ woes, like volunteering for a good cause, while not solving all the country’s problems, do carve out a sphere of good in a sea of bad.

Another way to push back is by donating to a cause that benefits one targeted by Trump, like the Human Rights Campaign for LGBT advocacy and Planned Parenthood for women’s rights. Even a small donation can make a difference when it’s multiplied by many people.

Perhaps most important of all is the purest way to deal with hate, and that is with love.  All of us in the group knew intellectually that this was right, but in all our imperfect, Buddhist-learning good intentionedness would find it challenging to put into practice.  So we will put our love out there maybe not for the source of the hate, but for those under fire from it.

The trick is to be able to cultivate hope in the midst of an environment that can so easily create hopelessness, not only for those directly affected by new executive orders, for example, but also for all of us who worry for the present and future of our country and our world.  Me, remembering the admonition that there are no atheists in foxholes, I’ve added prayer to my arsenal of spiritual practices.