Compassion, Openness, Level Headedness

W16 7 19 PENTALIC PARVATI 03The last two weeks have been
so filled with anger and even verbal abuse from friends (with like minds) that I have been depressed.
Really depressed.

The state of our world is enough to make anyone want to turn away from this life and become a hermit.
What flipped it for me?  NOT the hatred spewing out of the mouth of the man who i-cannot-believe-this may be our next president.  I have become used to a certain faction of our political system hating women and people of color and our natural world (this seems to go hand-in-hand).  I don’t agree with it, but it has been growing for years and I’ve fought it when and where I could.  Donating, writing, trying to waken others.

No, it has been the loss of friends in this political season.

Something changed.

People are fearful and stressed.
Let me say that again.
Let it sink in.
People are incredibly fearful and stressed out with worry.
I know I am.  I own it.

W16 7 21 USK PSU BERRY FESTIVAL 02 SQPeople are disconnected from this world.  When we walk mostly we see moms and dads with kids or dogs or heading to work and they are texting. Not enjoying the walk, the dogs, or their kids.  (Okay, my projection, but I think they are enjoying their phones.)  No eye contact, walking into us, no sense of personal space.  That disconnect is seen at the grocery store when someone steps into your transaction.  Disconnected from people becomes a habit, the world is not important, and so, people, relationships natural habitat suffers.  My opinion.

People rarely read anything in depth and exist on sound bites. 
They especially do not read anything that is not stamped for approval by the people they agree with.   As a total generalization, right-wingers listen to Fox; liberals listen to MSNBC.  Yes, its a stereotype, but it also is pretty much true, right?
Let’s make this easy — I’m a liberal — but I don’t listen to the “news.”
I read deeply into important issues from what I consider to be places that report “objectively” (Washington Post, NYTimes, snopes, even transcripts) trying to understand why our police force has become militarized, what national threats really exist, why Snowden did what he did, who this man Trump is (hardest of all), and what Hilary has actually done.  I stay away from 24/7 soundbites meant to scare and enslave you.
I notice that in my and my friends feeds on FB people rarely ever read the story,
they scream off about the headline — and it is embarrassing for them but
they don’t care when they miss the punchline and the point and go off.

There is NO sense of decorum and
little sense of decency in MOST conversation now.
Is it that we just talk at each other online so we don’t get to see the face of the other as your words wound?  Or do these same people scream in their loved ones face?
I know how hard it is when you are passionate, frightened, etc., and yet,
I can usually rein it in and talk about the issue, not the person I am disagreeing with.
It wasn’t always this way — I was a hot head in my twenties.  It took hurting a few people terribly to stop the pattern.  Now I have to be REALLY over the top to turn to name-calling and saying the hurtful things that you can’t take back
or if you can heal, that healing will take a good deal of effort and time.

And when I lose it I apologize immediately when I get my head screwed on straight.

I’ve not had altercations with the “other” side that broke my heart, but had people who were friends (no more) with values similar come after me, name-calling, aggressive, threatening.  When I took it to a private venue and tried to make sense of the anger and vitriol there was no coming back from it for this person, and he is not the first.  I’ve lost friends, actual flesh and blood friends, during this season.  I am shocked.  On the other hand, I was not willing to take their heaping abuse from which they would not shift.

W16 7 16 PENTALIC BLUEPRINT PALMS 03 SQA great teacher, Burgh Joy, taught me to pause and shift.  Pause and shift.
Take a moment, and shift your perspective to see if you can gain greater clarity.
What is really going on here?
Mitchell and I can do this easily for each other, seeing when we are in physical pain, didn’t sleep, feeling a panicked deadline.  Then we can have compassion for a snappy response and ask what is going on without snarkiness.  With another you may have to ask.  Pause and shift, combined with tonglen, that ability to breath in the pain and send out loving-kindness or an antidote, are perhaps the greatest things I’ve learned beside basic meditation teaching me to self-reflect.  Sometimes it takes an hour, but there is time to come to center, to pause, and to shift.

Finally, the idea of apology has eroded in our culture.
Apology is not followed by “but.”
“But” is a word that negates what was said before:

but 1 |bət|
1 used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.
• nevertheless; however: he stumbled but didn’t fall | this is one principle, but it is not the only one.
• on the contrary; in contrast: I am clean but you are dirty | the problem is not that they are cutting down trees, but that they are doing it in a predatory way.

“I’m sorry BUT” is rarely an apology and usually an excuse involving the other or
some other that excuses it.  No buts!  Apology should be short and simple.
Understanding can come later, or not.
Apology is, “I’m sorry I lost my freaking mind and hurt you.”

Anyone else experiencing depression as a result of this political climate?


©D. Katie Powell.  My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to zenkatwrites.  Art (unless stated) is also by me; please link to dkatiepowellart.


About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in autobiography, compassion, courage, guidance, lojong, loss, mind, spirituality, stress, tonglen and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Compassion, Openness, Level Headedness

  1. I hear you… loud and clear. I am not politically motivated but Trump scares me…..ugh. I am sorry to hear that you have been depressed, I know how that feels. I am lucky that I am so rural that I don’t have much conversation with people and I don’t spend much time on FB. You wrote that part so right on! so true, everyone grabs a headline and away they go! I absolutely hate it. I avoid the news and try to stay focused on my art and my faith, I have to! I like that ‘pause and shift’ Hopefully things will calm down and you find your center again. 🙂

  2. Liz En says:

    Pause and shift. I’m going to use that. We live in a very complicated, fast paced, aggressive, selfish culture. When our reptilian brain screams “fear”, higher cognitive functions shut down. It really is hard to maintain a positive state of mind under these circumstances. I try to go back to gratitude when I start feeling overwhelmed. If you look hard enough there is always something to be grateful for.

    • I absolutely do gratitude daily. If nothing else I can always count husband, work, roof over head, good food, crazy cats…. And the best time of the day, when we curl in for an English murder mystery.

  3. Dan Antion says:

    Apology is not followed by “but.” <- #Truth

  4. dweezer19 says:

    I so agree Katie and there is much more I could add but won’t. The word hypocrisy flashes in my mind over and over throughout all of this tangled mess that is politics and antagonist warfare in the country at this time. I keep posting the link to Stephen King’s The Stand biput no one even blinks. Crazed people in fear turn on one another. I am deeply sorry your iwn personal experience has included good friends.

    • Thankfully not best friends. Hypocrisy, yes. I never made it through the stand; love his storytelling but his writing made me crazy. Maybe I need to try it again… Or do the audio version…. (huggs)

  5. bikerchick57 says:

    Katie, you probably remember when our last governor was elected…the protests inside and outside the state capitol in Madison. I watched CNBC many nights and always ended up so angry. Then I realized that even though I greatly disliked what Walker was doing, this TV channel was making matters worse for my soul. So I stopped watching and never went back. I think of those who watch FOX and CNBC, or take heart of the negative political ads, and realize it’s so easy to fall into the anger that they fuel. At times I feel as though this country is being taken over by the Borg (Star Trek nerd reference), that we’re being assimilated one by one into a union of angry, hateful, murderous people. That’s what depresses me.

    I’m sorry you’ve lost friends over this season. I understand how you can be depressed. All we can hope for, Katie, is that sensible, respectful, loving people rule in the end and that this country finds its way toward peace. It will be a hard row…I still have faith, though.

    Hugs to you, my friend.

    • Oh yesh, Mary, agreed, Borgs. We canceled cable shortly after 9-11. Not because of it, but because we heard a great talk by Aaron Brown on where he thought news was heading, and he certainly was correct. We only miss it about twice a year. ((huggs)) backatcha

  6. Lucia Maya says:

    Thanks for this, and I’m sorry it’s been so difficult for you. It has for me too, at times feeling despair with the amount of fear, anger and confusion that exists. If it’s out there, it must exist in here too, so I do my best to see it here too… I’ve been doing much “pause, center, shift”-ing too.

    Like you, I value objective sources and taking the time to read about something, especially if I’m going to try to speak about it. I’m grateful that most of what I see on FB is at least aligned with my views and/or thoughtful, and often inspiring, but when I read comments (by strangers) on articles, is when I can get frightened at the level of anger and violence in words.
    much love to you. xo

  7. Peter Nena says:

    I usually wake up and turn on BBC, listening as I prepare for work. Lately, the first news is always depressing. Terrorism, murder, terrorism, murder. Bad politics, economic scares, etc. And in my own country students are setting their schools on fire. So far 120 schools have been burnt since May. Including my former high school. Today in the morning I asked my colleague: “Is there any good news in the world?” He just laughed. When I heard about the Japanese man stabbing disabled people to death, I didn’t even want to leave the house. I turned off the radio.

    • Yes. I’ve stopped the process. I start my day with art, mediation, and possibly choosing a few things to READ. Guardian and BBC are on my list, not so much the USA papers. I have many friends that are in fear mode right now. Fortunately Mitchell and I can reflect a bit most day. And I have to say, there is humor in this coming from “drkillpatient01” hahahaaaaa

  8. macjam47 says:

    I am not depressed, just angry!
    1. I’m angry at politicians that didn’t do their jobs properly and thereby created the atmosphere for the political rebellion that is going on now. I am angry at the mindless way so many approach elections, voting for a familiar face or name without finding out more about them – what do they stand for, what do they plan to do about it, what is their past record? I am not a political person, but I keep advising people to KNOW who you are voting for. I cannot believe in this great country that we could not have found better candidates than we have. I’m not convinced that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job, but I sure don’t want to see Trump win. Four years of Trump in the White House could do irreparable damage to this country. It’s a scary time.
    2. I’m angry at communities that have lost control of their citizens for whatever reason, whether economic, racial, political, religious, or whatever excuse they have. This is 2016 and we should all know better.
    3. I’m angry that the governments of the world haven’t banned together to effectively irradicate terrorism. How many people have to die or suffer atrocious injuries before they say ‘enough is enough?’
    4. I’m angry that after the loss of so many lives in senseless acts of terror, our government hasn’t done something to make it more difficult for people to buy weapons of mass destruction and, more importantly, made it impossible for them to buy the ammunition for those guns. I don’t think all guns should be banned. I do believe in the right to bear arms, but all guns should be registered. Come on folks, is it that difficult to effect change?
    5. I am angry that people can’t put down their phones and get on with living. Sure, I do like to text, I do check email, I do read blogs, but I have a life beyond these things. Maybe if people took their noses out of their social media accounts once in a while, they could be part of the solution to the problems we face.
    6. I am angry that people don’t respect others, pay attention to the rules of living in a world filled with a plethora of individuals who deserve to be treated with manners, common courtesy, and a smile. I see people with the “me, me, me” attitude on the road, in the grocery, in schools, in the government (and that is treasure trove of examples), and in every facet of our lives. Be kind. Be courteous. Be respectful.
    I guess I’ve ranted enough.
    Hugs, my friend. Sending smiles your way.

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