There but for the grace of god go I

Posted On Nov 29 2016 by

The election of Donald Trump has disturbed people clearly.  Some are delighted, of course.  My question for myself and for you is how can you find grace in this? (See recent post Another Effing Opportunity to Grow.)

I want to stay sane.  I want to be kind.  If I allow my judgmental voices or my holier than thou inner beings, my holier than Trump voters voices to take over, I suffer.  Can you get that?

My Quaker mother told me that there is that of Christ in everyone.  Even at age 8, I could absorb that notion.  It was self-evident.  So, now what?

I play with the idea that I am just like Donald Trump.

That I am just like Hillary voters.

That I am just like disappointed Bernie supporters.

That I am just like disenfranchised voters in Flint, MI.

That I am just like celebrating neo-Nazis.

When I engage the question: How am I just like Donald Trump, I find all the
places and times in my life when I was less than kind about LGBTQ folks, immigrants, women, Muslims and all the rest that have had mud thrown upon them during the campaign.

Thankfully, I didn’t act out my unkind thoughts very often, especially as I matured, as I quit drinking.  And still in moments of unconscious behavior, I am sure I have muddied the waters of our collective lives.

So, I can’t be holier than Donald, or the ones that voted for him, et al.

To keep my heart open, to remain compassionate, to continue to be inclusive, I use the phrase –

There but for the grace of God, go I.

As a spiritual practice, I recommend imagining a set of circumstances under which any heinous act could make sense to you.  If you can’t, then I urge you to practice, stretch your imagination.

This is not to condone the heinous act but to find the lost soul in the other person and thereby open your heart.  OK?

Clearly, my lizard brain, my survival brain, would take over and do anything to survive given the right circumstances.

And I continue to be appalled at my hardwired tribal self that has a first reaction to anyone who is Other, to anyone who isn’t in the same group that I was first exposed to as a child.  Appalled, because a lifetime of contrary evidence has not budged the immediate, first response to the Other.

Neither of these two minds are going to disappear.  I had best make friends with them and not let them drive the bus.

My colleague and friend, Zen priest, Genjo Marinello wrote a piece titled:  I Am Trump.  I urge you to read it.

The last paragraph issues a call to action, one that I have recommended for years to clients, readers, and mostly to myself.

As Zen Master Rinzai said repeatedly, take care, and remember that we are all a part of one seamless fabric; everyone is our brother and sister. There must be no room for vilification or idealization in our hearts. Do not give in to fear, remember to bear witness to the suffering on all sides, enter the unknowing with great faith, and arise with great determination to act with loving-kindness.

This is our time to nurture the things we care about, that is everyone, with loving kindness.

Every year at this time, we decide as a family how we will direct our charitable gifting.   You may find that you find satisfaction in making selections that help those most affected by this election.  We did.

May you be happy, wild, and free,


Last Updated on: November 25th, 2016 at 2:28 pm, by William

Written by William

One response to “There but for the grace of god go I

  1. Bill, I love the idea of imagining the circumstances under which I would commit a heinous act for the purpose of finding compassion for someone (and thereby myself). Of course, we all do this anyway, but usually from a self-righteous perspective. I will add this to my practice occasionally. It goes well with my realization in the past year that the biggest trap of all is knowing that I’m “right”. Thanks, and have wonderful Holy Days.

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