Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I would like to see you living in better conditions.
How do we want to live? Isn’t that at least one of the questions driving many of us these days? How do we want to live? What kind of people are American people? What sort of nation are we and will we become if we cannot maintain certain basic rights, certain conditions below which we will not allow ourselves to fall? What conditions are we living in now and will we live in in the future?
This is Hafiz’s wonderful metaphor. “I see you have chosen the cheapest room in the house to live in. The room made of fear. I would love to see you living in better conditions.”
There’s a lot to be afraid of right now. Change always harbors the elements of fear. Not knowing where we are going as a nation, what policies and laws might change, how they will affect us or people that we love and care about can take us into the room called fear pretty easily. It does not help that we just spent a year being fed messages of fear on a daily–sometimes hourly–basis. Everyone with any sort of stake in the election process engaged in fear-mongering, too. My own party, which I think has a moral high ground over the others (why would I support a party that I didn’t think had a moral high ground over the others–so don’t bust my chops for taking that position) engaged in fear-mongering, too. Every day, I received emails whose subject line always sounded like something horrible was about to happen. What they really wanted was another donation, but by the time I could read that, the stress hormones were already doing their work in me.
Daily doses of fear do us a world of harm. I wish that we lived in better conditions. Even facing the turmoil that I think we face, I also think that we can live in a better place than a room called fear. It will take daily practice and daily commitment to some things.
- Let us remind ourselves each day that we are people of worth and so are our fellows. We stand together on hope, ready to practice love and compassion.
- Let us refuse to accept bad things–thoughts, actions, laws and attitudes–as the new normal.
- Let us be willing to take actions that assert our stand with our fellows.
On that last note, Rev. Meg Barnouse, senior minister of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, TX offers some practical advice here in her article on how to talk to relatives at Thanksgiving about the election, but also in this: if we want to give money and show support for the front lines of the fight for human rights, consider those organizations led by People of Color and LGTQ folks who have been on that line for a long time.
Fear is cheap and easy. Anyone can live there, and anyone can use fear to take us to that place and convince us that it is the only place we can afford.
We really can do better.