Lately and in the context of the national political debate being told over and over again by the various media outlets I have become an angry man. The vitriol flowing from Presidential candidates has reached a level beyond my memory of past political campaigns. Yes, the mountain of falsehoods and accusatory statements comes from both major political parties. Perhaps it is my bias, but the conservative candidates seem to be making more incredulous statements. They are obviously competing for media attention in an attempt to appeal to a base of hostility and rage.
They usurp our media, our politics, and our country. They tend to hoard our attention. When I am not careful, alert to the addiction, I find myself being drawn into their conversation despite the near complete lack of value. I get angry. I find myself sitting in judgement and my attitude, one of disdain, toward them (and their followers) becomes dismissive. I find myself being hostile and full of rage.
A young woman in our Fellowship frequently surprises me with her knowingness. She works for a local NGO that tends to support initiatives that protect the environment, protect small farmers (local agriculture), and promote renewable energy. In other words, she advocates for liberal issues. She works in Western South Dakota. Lest you forget, Western South Dakota is a fortress of conservatism: likely one of the most conservative regions of the country. My friend works with folks of all types including the state legislature, local city leaders, and regular citizens to promote the ideals of the NGO.
What surprises me most about my friend is that she is half my age and seems to exude twice my wisdom. In a recent program at our Fellowship she denounced the ideas of the conservative movement, the evangelists of the American right wing, and the media that obfuscates the truth with nuanced talk that furthers a conservative political movement. And, while she denounced the ideas of the right she embraced the humanity of the right. She talked about their fear, the eventuality of their fall from power and privilege, and their rage stemming from their fear. She advised patience, kindness, and tenderness to us sitting in the Fellowship.
Her presentation to our Fellowship occurred three months ago. Today, I am still left in awe at her open heart and sage wisdom. She, who works with singular-minded legislators, people entrenched in preserving the status quo, she who is charged with Sisyphus-like tasks of persuading people of privilege to change, rises up in the midst of their conservative, most powerful institution, and preaches love. She encourages me to politely excuse myself from the mindless rabble of the 24-hour news cycle, to embrace the stuff of substance like the quiet of the outdoors, the persistance of nature, the tenacity of love. She tells us to find OUR place in the national narrative, hold steady, and brace ourselves with love and the natural.