There’s a political group, MoveOn, that regularly sends messages to my email inbox. One email last week offered a free bumper sticker that reads “Trump lost. Get over it.” I’m in agreement with the fact, but not the message, which is in your face. I’m not above spitting, but I try not to do it when it could get me killed. For me, living in this region, driving the backroads whenever possible, a better message would be “Biden won. Join the party.”
What to do about this political crisis in the country? Last week I wrote about turning, so the question I want to address this week is what we do once we’ve turned? I think we walk, forward when possible, sideways if not, backwards if necessary, but we keep moving. Mas Masumoto’s December column in the Bee expressed a similar thought. But which way, and how?
There’s an old Quaker saying that helps me in times of uncertainty: “Proceed as Way opens.” What is meant by “way” is quite lovely, a bit mystical, and I have only a feel for it, but that is enough. It doesn’t always feel mystical, however. One Quaker elder once told writer Parker J. Palmer, in a moment of his vocational despair waiting for way to open, that way had never opened in front of her. Smiling, she said “But a lot of way has closed behind me, and that’s had the same guiding effect.” Similarly, an early motto of the Celtic spiritual community of Iona says “Pray for more light, and follow the light that you see.” These are both fine roadmaps for walking, for moving forward.
I think how we walk is critically important, however. “Don’t Tread On Me” read the words on some of the flags borne by some of the people storming our capitol last year in some kind of perverted patriotism fueled by the Trump Party’s lies. Above or below the words lies a coiled rattlesnake, mimicking the Gadsden flag designed in 1775 for the American Revolution. Whenever I walk through a field or an orange grove, even on a path, I walk lightly to avoid stepping on a hidden rattlesnake, which rightly would bite me if I tread heavily upon it. The implication that my conservative, right-wing brothers are similarly frightened and dangerous has not been lost on me. In general, I do with them what I’d do with any single coiled rattler: step (or leap) aside. Yet what would we do if a large, menacing swarm of rattlesnakes invaded our homes and attacked us? We’d chop off their heads. That’s not really an option with our brothers.
That wacko Methodist minister friend of mine, John Pitney, wrote a song called “Walk Lightly.” It’s based on the passage from the Gospel of Luke (9:1-4) where Jesus gives the 12 disciples the power and authority to drive out all demons and cure diseases, then sends them out to preach the kingdom. But go undefended, he says, empty-handed: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” In the song, John modernizes those traveling conditions to being the same as living this life without all the unnecessary consumer items we’ve come to see as necessities: mini-vans and microwaves, dream houses atop hills. The reason for eschewing these luxuries, however, is to be free enough to speak truth to power wherever you meet it: encountering the diamondback brothers, confronting the ex-President, just saying “no” to the global corporations and local greed-mongers raising rents and evicting families, and all the other the price-gougers making hay while the sun shines.
The song’s last verse gives me courage to move forward every time I sing it:
“Take out to the road, my friends, authority to heal / And pow’r to put a stop to lies that break the commonweal / Compassion to anoint the wounds that scar God’s land, the people’s soul / The strength to keep on keeping on ’til all the earth be whole, / Until God’s Earth is whole.”
Let’s get moving, friends, walking lightly. We don’t need the civil war everyone keeps predicting. We need healing instead.
Trudy Wischemann is a wacko Quaker who writes and sings. You can join the choir by writing her c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.