Two Weeks More…

Like many Americans during this election cycle, I have had my share of jaw dropping, eye popping, head shaking and soul searching moments. You may have noticed the frequency of my blogs has declined dramatically this past month. The enormity of the social and political upheaval in progress does not lend itself to modest cautions or familiar wisdoms. Most often, I have been left wordless.

We’re in uncharted waters.

Those who have found a voice in Donald Trump will neither be enlightened nor discouraged with his defeat. There is a frustration with the system and the status quo that runs so deep that people like the Sarah Palins, Michelle Bachmans and Donald Trumps have exploited and convinced a core percentage of our citizenry to reject reasonable discourse and compromise in our politics. This has been going on for years. Gridlock and legislative dysfunction are but two of the glaring results.

There is a frustration with the system and the status quo that runs so deep that the corrosion of a person’s character is the presumption for those who have been involved with politics for any length of time. “You’re bound to get dirty when you’re playing with the pigs ” is how it is politely expressed.

We, the people, once had a narrative, a story, that we told ourselves and bought in to about our election system. Whether it was at the local level, the state level or the national level, we thought we could vote people into office who would then go and change the system. What we have experienced for generations of elections is that the system changes the people. Period.

From before baby boomers and through the millennials, the system of governance has successfully resisted meaningful, substantive reform to its processes.

If an elected person is to ‘survive’ politically, they have to ‘learn’ to play the game. At the very least, this requires unsavory choices. Usually, though, it requires morally dubious decisions. Rarely will a person sell their integrity wholesale. They typically give it away piecemeal…a little bit here…a little more over there…until there’s nothing left.

We’ve witnessed this as a citizenry so often and at every level of governance that our trust has been broken. Not in any given person, but in the process itself. That’s how someone like the Trumpeteer can claim that the ‘system is rigged’ and it resonates.

But you don’t fix broken bones by sending in a virus.

No matter how disillusioned you are, a delusional person will not lead the way to anywhere we truly want to go.

A broken moral compass cannot possibly point us out of these woods.


The First Snow

The rain forest tour guide had yet to travel outside the region of Central American. I knew this because, after he’d described the intensity and impact of the rains, I asked him if he’d ever seen snow. He smiled. “Only in pictures”, he replied. Then he surprised me, “Can you describe it for me, like I just tried to describe the rains and rainy season for you?”

I looked over to my wife and asked her with a gesture if she would like to do the describing and she bounced it back to me with a nod and a smile. I am always amazed and grateful for these moments, even though they occur with frequency. They are the evidence of an ease and love between us that warms my heart and gives me courage.

As our guide had been providing us with a rather idyllic version of the rains and the forest, I opted to give him a similarly edited description of the first snow of the season. I tell him:

Before the flakes start to fall, there’s a heaviness and a distinct chill in the air that people sense. “Feels like snow”, we all tell each other. And, soon enough, it usually does. Fat feathery flakes drifting down, gently transforming every surface into something smooth, white and new. In spite of all the flakes, there’s a pervasive stillness. If you listen closely, there’s the feintest tingling of ice crystals that will tease your ears into hearing them. There seems to be a collective pause in all other forms of outside activity. It sometimes feels like an innocence is being restored.

The guide and I looked each other in the eye. He smiled. I followed suit. “I will have to see that sometime for myself”, he said. I told him that I was sure that he would.

My working and interacting with others often involves my attempting to put the indescribable into words. I am acutely aware of the limits I continually bump into. Sometimes I manage to be helpful, and that is enough in any moment to try anew, but I want you to know, dear reader, that the first snow waits for you too.

To pause.

To listen.

To smile.

And be made new.