“Dear Cam…” I received this email from a long-time friend in the Mid-West last week, after it was revealed Republican Senators would not call witnesses.
“I am growing weary of being worried. Most of my life I have tried, at times without success, to understand people and accept our differences of opinions without too much judgment. I am failing drastically with the president’s supporters. I am worried about the impact his actions will have on my kids and grandkids.”
“I understand that many people feel they have been neglected in the scheme of things. Some straight, white folks see their world shrinking and, in their minds, too much focus and money has gone toward the poor, LBGQ, and immigrants. But I was taught to see everyone as a child of God and deserving of respect and help. Even so, as I attempt to accept each person with their differences, I feel greatly challenged when it comes to those who see Trump as their rescuer. How do I overcome worry and judgmentalism? I know you will not tell me everything will be ok or glibly refer me to a Biblical reference. However, you must have a thought or two. It’s either that or scotch. Single malt preferably.”
“Dear (friend), that worry cannot be taken away, it is real and warranted. The concern about being judgmental is a bit easier. Of course, you are judgmental – everyone is, and we need to be. That old Christian trope that misinterprets scripture should be narrowly applied, as in: do not pretend you are God. Only God knows the fullness of a person, so recognize that and keep some humility as we evaluate people and the world. We have to evaluate and form opinions and beliefs about people. It is how we live, grow, and survive.
As for worry or anxiety in this arena, they are best treated with action. When something beyond our control is casting a shadow, doing what we can do, even small actions, is the best antidote. There is a campaign happening, sign up!
Powerlessness is exhausting. It is especially debilitating to white males of a certain class we share. There are many other groups within our society who have learned a variety of skills to live with powerlessness but we were not one of them. Of course, recognizing that doesn’t make the powerlessness any less debilitating.
There are only two things I know to do for powerlessness and the anxiety that goes along with it, the first is to take action and the second is surrender. Doing something, no matter how small, is key. It may feel like only a tiny dent in the problem, but it helps to make anxiety less debilitating and wearisome.
The second thing, no one wants to hear about: surrender. I don’t do it so well, but the one time I did most completely, I got sober. So, hey, I keep going back to it. It is a frame as much as anything, that we are too small to have a decent perspective about the present let alone the future. In the face of powerlessness, try a trust-fall into God – allowing God to be God, and ourselves to be the very tiny, one-step-at-a-time creatures we are. A single malt now and then won’t hurt you either.