After a bitter US campaign season came to a surprising end earlier this week, half of the Americans who voted are celebrating, and half of them are mourning. With those who chose to participate by abdicating their vote... it's harder to say how they may be feeling. Many in the rest of the world seem to be scratching their heads. All of these are honest emotions, but I daresay none of them are the whole truth.
The nature of Truth is that it tends to raise questions more than it provides answers. And the truth is, we cannot rely on one person, one party or one policy to do the work for us. There's a lot of work that we need to do to create the world that we want to see.
Election day is every day.
We are constantly voting, with our deeds and with our dollars. Speaking up for what's true for us - with kindness - is a good start. But what about beyond words... What are our actions? Where do we invest our time, money and energy when we step away from this screen?
All the pain and all the problems that we see in the world today pre-date this week's election results. These issues and their roots existed long before the previous election, and even before the one before that. We are in a time of unprecedented technological change, globalization and population growth. That all has huge implications for our economic health, healthcare, jobs, education, environment, energy sources, food production, pretty much everything you can think of under the sun.
Unless we each choose to engage, to participate, to make change, to champion change, to do the hard work, then these sources of suffering will continue to persist. The pain and the problems will continue after the next election and after the next one after that. Unless we each engage... to change our sovereign selves, our relationships, our families, our communities, our work in the world.
We may be tempted to disengage because we feel powerless. We might feel like our efforts our pointless. Why speak up? Why volunteer? Why organize? Why donate? Why vote? Why change? The system is rigged. The world is gone mad. It doesn't matter anyway. That's a story we have all told ourselves at some point. But without engagement, this prophecy becomes self-fulfilling because we take our own power away.
As President Barack Obama has said, we need to focus on our work. "If you’re worrying about yourself — if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ — then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.”
Whatever you are upset about, make it your work. Whatever you are excited about, make it your work. Whatever institutions and ideals you believe in, make it your work to promote, defend and protect them as much as you can. Whatever your work is, let it be important and meaningful to you.
My own work has been focused on using my experience, awareness and presence to facilitate meaningful shift and transition for women who are called to more purpose-aligned work. Next year I plan to extend that message to more men. And I intend to continue teaching people tools they can use to help free themselves from the prison of their personalities. And I hope to start working with more women leaders to elevate women's access to and success in senior roles in large organizations. And I want to help step up efforts to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean by promoting biodegradable alternatives. This is my work in the world, and it is ever evolving and always adjusting.
There is much work to do. There are many ways you can and will make a difference. An election is over. And life continues to reveal itself to us, moment to moment, without end. What is your work in the world?
If you are celebrating this week, please don't become complacent. Be vigilant and see to it that your candidate delivers on the promises that earned him your support. If you are mourning this week, please don't mistake your disappointment for defeat. Use your frustration as fuel to push forward. For all of us, let's make sure every bit of this is done from love, and with love.
Election day is every day. The most effective cure for your election hangover is to keep voting. Vote with your time. Vote with your energy. Vote with your money. And always, always vote with your heart.*
*Edit: When I say vote (choose) with your heart, I mean voting with your heart's desires considered and included. That doesn't mean leaving your mind behind, and it doesn't mean letting emotional reactivity overshadow the wisdom of an emotionally intelligent response. As for your mind's involvement in the matter, there's a big difference between a busy, anxious, reactive mind and a true, calm, responsive mind. All of these are topics for another post. :)