“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Election season is a long, long haul in these United States. We have literally months and months to go—entire seasons to weather—before the culminating moment in November when the onslaught ends. It’s a painful process, one that is shaping up to be even more painful this year due to the ratcheted up levels of emotion and inflammatory discourse.
With the explosion of communication channels, it’s impossible to tune it out. That’s a shame, because the level of negative, divisive energy in the air and on the airwaves blankets the environment, like the thick, dirty ash descending from the dark sky after a volcanic eruption. I voted early for the March 1 Texas primary.
I believe in the American ideal, the aspiration for a truly democratic political system in which elections do indeed belong to the people. But I cringe at the spectacle that we provide for ourselves and showcase to the world. It is not a view of our best selves. Yes, democracy can be messy, but I like to think that participants in the process can uphold at least a modicum of respect and integrity.
Then why participate at all? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. The best I answer I can give is the fact that sometimes the aspiration is enough— sometimes the ritual is more important than the reality. The belief and faith in something greater is sufficient, regardless of what comes to pass.
Readers of this magazine can perhaps relate to that sentiment. The point is the practice itself; the point is the journey; the point is this moment, right here, right now. That’s where we find our center, where we find our balance, where we find some sense of control when all around feels like chaos and madness.
In moments of meditation when my mind whirls and flies off, I reach out and catch it and say gently to myself, “Return to the breath, return to the breath.” I reset my focus, again and again, kindly, patiently. So must we all when the world outside feels frighteningly out of control. It is an ongoing practice.
May you return to your center and find your balance again and again throughout this amazing month of March, and may something within these pages enrich your mind and improve your life.
Joel Shuler, Publisher