By now, we have all heard of the Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times,” especially as we watch so many changes come to be with our nation’s new president, so much seems to be “interesting”. And if you heard this phase, you also know that, seemingly a blessing, this statement is more of an invocation of danger and turbulent times.
This week we continue to watch the mistreatment of immigrants escalate and the response of protesters rise in the aim to reveal the importance of every person in our nation.
The nation is experiencing a rite of passage. Two important elements of rites of passage include an ordeal and the question “who am I?” Both these elements propel an individual, a community, a nation, a tree, a bird, an ecosystem into something new. The order doesn’t matter, as long as the essence of these elements are present, you can be assured an initiation is occurring.
The ordeal: One simple needs to read the headlines to see the distress of the world in this moment. Psychological warfare, growing rifts with between nations, difficulty deciphering truth form lie, scandals, bio-terrorism, battles of people and battles of nature and battles of people about nature. The ordeal is here. Everyday we seem to wonder “what’s next?” in that exasperated anticipation of the “straw that will break the camel’s back” way.
The Question, “Who am I?”: There is no doubt the this state of the nation is bringing to life this question inside of us. The trouble with times like these is that labels emerge. We move into our labels as a means to defend ourselves from dangerous or in order to feel protected in some collective shared experience. We label ourselves democrat or republican, Trump supported or protester, feminist or misogynist, racist or rights-activist. As we were growing more global we suddenly found ourselves identifying more strongly with these labels that only bring us into smaller communities. These labels alone have no “good” or “bad” value in and of themselves, yet they can be so easily simplifying and stereotyped, to the point that they say absolutely nothing about who we are! We forget that this question, “Who am I?” is so profoundly and simultaneously individualistic and global, nothing about the answer can be stereotyped or simplified.
Forget “interesting” and all it’s underlying meanings, as a nation we are in an important time. The ordeal is here, we are moving from adolescence to adulthood, Who are you? Who are we? Individually and as a collectively. What gifts do each of us bring to the whole? Can we begin to answer this question by truly identifying our unique contribution? And in doing so, we can come to recognize there is not a single person in this world that is not needed. We are all significantly important. Without you the world would be distinctly different. Each person is singularly needed for the whole to function. The importance of this time is about what you bring to whole by being who you are. And that we all come to celebrate what that is. It is you rite to answer this question in you at this important time and it is the rite of the world to celebrate the answer that comes. We wouldn't be able to this living in this world thing without you.