Saturday, July 30, 2016

How Could I Forget?

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I woke thinking of this quote over a week ago and have been wrestling with what I wanted to say as a result.  I have heard myself saying to myself and others, far too often, that I am afraid.  But afraid of what, of whom, why?  What happened to my commitment to realistic optimism?

So, for days now, I've reflected on this.  Asked a group of women whose values, and intellect, whose thoughtfulness and honesty I respect if they are fear-full.  Deliberated on their responses.  Written pages in my personal journal.  

This is what I've concluded:
  • I've been afraid, very afraid of the hate and venom that Donald Trump has unleashed, even more than Trump himself - and that's saying a lot.  
  • I've been afraid of the environment of exclusion and pessimism, of blame and relentless attack promoted in Cleveland.
  • I've been afraid that people who see the world differently than he does might not stand up for their beliefs, might retreat and retract rather than engage.
  • Most of all, I've been afraid of my own fear, aware that I wanted to retreat, saying I would move to Costa Rica if he is elected.  
And, then, yesterday,I remembered.  A friend had posted an appreciation for the speech made in Philadelphia by the father of a fallen Muslim American soldier.  The response from, I am assuming, a Trump supporter, dismissed this father's message by pointing to Bengazi.  My response..."what if both views are valid."  Both/and - a concept I have tried to live by for years.  How could I forget?  Is this what fear does - block out what we know is better for us?
Make us deaf and blind to anything other than what we believe?  

What if, instead of "either/or", we could consider "both/and."  There is hate and venom out there, and there is compassion and consideration. There are those who will retreat and those who will engage.  There are those who will seek exclusion and pessimism and those who choose inclusion and optimism.  There are significant problems in this country and there has been significant progress over the past eight years.  One does not negate the other.

Isn't realistic optimism an example of both/and thinking?  Surely I can be both aware of and acknowledge  the negative and work to promote what's positive.   And with that, the fear has morphed into concern and commitment.  A relief for my husband, I'm sure.  And much healthier for me.  

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