“It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
These past few weeks, no matter how politically active and spiritually healthy we are, we wake and find ourselves in a land that increasingly feels like a nightmare:
We incarcerate children just like Anne Frank in dog kennels, with only mylar “blankets.” We separate them from their families, and don’t know how or when they’ll be reunited.
We send children just like Anne Frank back to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, where they'll become the property of gang members, or be murdered if they refuse (gangs that US policy inadvertently helped create when we trained foreign leaders at the School of the Americas).
Some in this country are in thrall to illusions around our president. And with their loyal devotion he’s able to subvert democracy, threaten our economy, and radically reshape our political relationships with world allies. It will not last. His supporters will wake up at some point. And then they and all the rest of us will have to pick up the pieces and begin again.
“It’s difficult in times like these.” Anne Frank wrote those words just weeks before she contracted the typhoid that killed her. But her writing shows us that in one of the worst places and times for humans on earth, she was able to claim a deep sense of herself and her values. My sincerest hope is that she dwelt within this wisdom and that it protected her, and that her courage and dignity were never destroyed.
In difficult times like these, we could all benefit from a practice to help us find our center and values: mindfulness meditation, or contemplative prayer. Journaling, walking, reading, or conversation with a spiritual friend. Not to turn away from the world in denial. But to find ourselves so truly that we're able to continue to face the world’s cruelty straight on, and never lose ourselves. And so we can continue to create a sense of love, peace, safety, and respect to offer to others.