“You do care. . . . You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” – Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
There is a lot of anger right now in our country. In the rest of the world too, of course – but in American we are feeling it in a very raw, unfamiliar way. For many, it feels very hard to see a path forward. “Compassion” is not a sentiment that springs to mind.
But we do a disservice to ourselves to settle for anger, because it is merely the least painful manifestation of what is truly in our hearts. Underneath the anger is anguish – anguish that hatefulness, violence, and bigotry; indifference to the suffering of others and the plight of the earth – have been so publicly affirmed. Underneath is crushing grief – and fear and horror and helplessness. The problems are so big, the needs are so great, the risk of real physical harm so immediate – yet so many seem willing to sacrifice the well-being of others in pursuit of their personal interests and ideologies, their view of an “America” reliant on the oppression and “otherness” of millions of people. Of course we feel raw. Our hearts are torn apart by the pain of it.
That pain is born of compassion – of love and respect for all those who suffer, including ourselves. Keeping our hearts open – somehow acknowledging and bearing the pain rather than letting our hearts harden into anger – is the only real way forward. We can let ourselves be driven by love for those who are vulnerable, rather than frustration at those who don’t seem to care.
The hatred and violence, greed and indifference that we decry has always been with us – and would not have been solved by a different electoral outcome. Taking care of each other, loving each other, is a hands-on activity. We can – we must – affirm it in every interaction, every day. And while the structural problems in our society can only really be addressed through government, day to day experience happens between people. Feeling safe and valued comes from interactions with each other. If everyone who is hurt and angry now can resolve to face life by listening deeply to the needs of those around them and reaching out with love to those in need, acting to protect and support, to understand suffering and try to ease it, we can have a very powerful impact on our families, our communities, and our country.
So stay with the rawness. Remember that what you feel is love – not anger – even if that love is searingly painful, even in the face of fear. And find ways, however small or large, to show that love to everyone you can, everyone who needs it.