At the beginning of the month of October, I decided to step onto the “battleground”. Up until then, I had decided that I would stay on the sidelines and watch, and not get involved in any of the election action. I had already decided who I was going to vote for a while back, and I had never been really engaged in political activity in any US election. I truly believed that even if I wanted to get engaged in the action, my actions wouldn’t amount to much anyway. In addition, I didn’t even know how or where to get engaged, even if I wanted to.
It was all going ‘according to plan’ until a few things happened, almost simultaneously, on a single day. Driving my daughter to school one morning, she saw a few yard signs pop up on the main road, and softly asked – “Dad – what will happen if they get elected again?” To put her heart and mind at ease, I quickly said – “don’t worry honey, good people are doing their best, fighting the good fight to make sure that that doesn’t happen”.
On my way back after dropping her off at school, the question was asked to me – “who are these ‘good people’ that you mentioned to her, Kumud?” That was the first whisper. In the afternoon, my cousin from Michigan, who now lives in California and is very engaged politically, asked me on Messenger – “so, how are you folks doing in Ohio?” That was the second whisper. Later that evening, as I was out for a quick grocery run, a text message popped up on my phone. “Will you be voting in this upcoming election?” It was an outreach effort by a group of ‘South Asians reaching out to fellow Asians’, asking for my intent and support. I said, “yes, of course”. That was the third whisper.
The universe had different plans for me. Three strikes within twelve hours and I was out of my inaction. It was time to step onto the battleground. At the end of the text outreach conversation, I found myself asking the lady, “How do I do what you are doing – text other people about their voting plan?” She said, “let me check and I’ll get back to you.” I waited. There was no reply for a few hours. I figured, oh well, I tried. It isn’t meant to be. Then around 11pm, I got a text with a link to sign up for “text banking”. The floodgates were now opened.
For those of you who are not familiar with US elections, certain states are “battleground states” because unlike a lot of states which are “safe bets” to be “Red” or “Blue”, these six or seven states are a “toss up”. Ohio, the state that I live in, is one of them. In a tight election, the outcome in a single “battleground” state or few can decide the outcome of an entire election. I will spare you all the details, but once I stepped into action, I drank from a firehose. I learnt how to “text bank”, “phone bank”, started posting about “martial arts” analogies on twitter, joined a FB group of fellow action-takers, and much more. Every waking hour outside of work and spiritual hours, I was immersed in thought and action.
A few days ago, I started hearing and reading about the doubt, fear, anxiety and concerns of that mirrored my daughter’s original question and concern. I found myself asking – does only “our” side have these feelings and concerns, or does “their” side have some of them too? The more I asked this question, the more I found myself trying to find “common ground” while being on the “battle ground”. The logical answer was that if “they” are human like “us”, they also feel the same emotions as us.
They also fell the loss of loved ones, and the joy of a newborn. They also feel thirst and hunger, heat and cold, fear of death and anxiety of loss. They also get up at sunrise and go to work, and need sleep after a hard day’s labor at home or outside the home. They also look upon the changing of colors in autumn with delight, marvel at the flight of the bumblebee in the spring, and wonder about the magic of the blue moon on Halloween.
There is “common ground” enough, even in the midst of the battle in the “battle ground”, if we are willing to look beneath the surface. As spiritual practitioners, would we not be well served, even in the heat of the battle in the battle-ground, to remember to adhere to our foundations of oneness, awareness, kindness, empathy, decency, integrity, compassion, truth and love? If so, then the common ground lies beneath us. All of US.
Let us not poison our common ground with hate, for we will need the same ground, after the current battle, to re-seed it with the seeds of hope for healing, unity, equality, respect, harmony, integration and transformation, as we move onward to create “a more perfect union”.
P.S. Join our weekly conversation on twitter in #SpiritChat – Sunday, Nov 1 at 9am EDT / 7:30pm India. We have been meeting every Sunday, in our “common ground” of #SpiritChat for many years. We will continue to do so. ALL of you are welcome. Namaste – @AjmaniK
P.P.S Note that the US switches to Daylight Savings on Nov 1, and the chat will (most likely) be an hour later than usual in your time-zone.
Nature is filled with examples of common ground, common waters, common skies and more – may we watch, listen, learn and integrate into our lives