I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for days. I’ve felt sad, lost and confused. I’ve been adjusting to the new knowledge that the world I thought I lived in was not, in fact, the world I did live in. For a while, the prevailing thought was “How did this happen?” I have obsessively absorbed media, trying to gauge the thoughts and reactions of everyone on both sides of the fence, trying to understand. I’ve been stricken and grieved by people I call dear friends who are afraid. They are afraid that those who hate them, those who are afraid of the different, now feel as though the majority of the country agrees with them – and that they’ve been given a green light to act on that hate. My immigrant friends, my gay friends, my interracial friends are all afraid for their safety, and it breaks my heart. I’ve seen hate groups coming out of the woodwork, like roaches and termites, to celebrate what they consider to be their victory. The most eloquent explanation I’ve heard put it this way: Not everyone who voted that way is a bigot. But all the bigots voted that way, and now they think everyone else who did is on their side.
A new voice is emerging in my head, and it’s much louder and more powerful than my own. It’s the voice of Seane Corn, a world-renowned yoga teacher and social activist. It’s her voice, powerful, raw and vibrating with intensity and emotion (if you’ve ever heard her speak, you know this is exactly what Seane’s voice conveys). It says, “We have work to do”, and it’s repeating in my head over and over and I can’t ignore it.
In the pantheon of yoga goddesses, the warrior goddess Durga is the goddess of social action. The energy of Durga rests, and waits, until called upon – or forced to action. And when the energy of Durga awakens, she waits no more. When the Durga Shakti fills you, you feel an urgency, a call to act, and do it now. We have work to do. There grows a fullness in your body, a tightness in your chest, and a restlessness in your heart – we have work to do.
It is not time to protest. What’s done is done is done. That is not the work. The work is to sit, and listen. Stop taking in media. Stop arguing with those who think differently than you. Nobody ever changed anybody’s mind by fighting with them on the internet. Be quiet. Listen. And in the silence, we will hear the answer. We have work to do.
I thought I was doing enough. I thought, as so many of us did, that setting an example was enough. I thought that teaching my children that we are all one, that teaching them love and compassion was enough. I thought that supporting and lifting up those closest to me was enough. I thought that loving my friends of all different religions and orientations and nationalities was enough. I thought that by being a quiet champion of acceptance and love was enough. It wasn’t enough. We have work to do.
I see now. I have to do more. I have to lead harder. I have to love louder. It’s easy to enclose ourselves in these little bubbles where we think everyone thinks, and sees things the way we do. I think it’s safe to say those bubbles have been burst. We have work to do.
For me, Seane Corn is the embodiment of the Durga Shakti. Brave, bold, passionate. She fights for what she believes in, and doesn’t give a shit if you like her or not. I’ve never actually met her, (but she did touch my arm in a workshop once), but she is my guiding light and it is her voice that I will follow as I search for my course of action. Her voice telling me, we have work to do.
I don’t know what my work is yet. I don’t know where is the best place to put my time, faith and money. It’s early yet. For now, I turn to my mat. I move, and breathe and I sit, and I listen. I invite the energy of the warrior goddess to fill me. I offer my support to those who are disheartened and afraid. I love you. I invite you all to join me. We have work to do.