Praying for Peace

Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably aware there’s an election going on in the U.S. right now – and it’s ugly. As the vote drags on, I’m becoming more weary and tired of the ugliness.

Full disclaimer: I support Joe Biden. I’m happy it appears he’ll win, and for the past four years, I’ve grown to very much dislike Mr. Trump. Either way, I’m sad about what’s happening in my country and the way this election has driven us even further apart.

I’ve been anxious and fearful about this election for months. Last night, I spoke to my therapist and we worked through ways to manage the anxiety. The thing I fear the most are the threats of violence. There have already been mass protests, riots, and looting in my area this year. And for a country known for mass shootings, I’m a little on edge.

Americans love their guns. I read a statistic recently that, per capita, Americans by far own the most guns in the world. According to WIRED, there are more guns in America than people! Ugh.

I’m not sure what the future holds. As I’m writing this, Biden is on the cusp of victory, and my city (Philadelphia) has become a focal point in the battle. Trump is the ultimate wild card – he can say or do anything, including things that could throw untold gallons of gasoline on this Dumpster fire.

So, what I have been doing is … taking deep breaths.

What gives me hope is the increasing amount of articles I’m seeing that are talking about election anxiety and ways to deal with it. The articles remind me to be mindful of the news I’m consuming, how much time I’m spending on social media, and other basic things like that.

The advice reminds me to avoid catastrophic thinking and jumping to worst-case scenarios. Yes, it’s possible something terrible could happen. Political violence is possible. But worrying about these possibilities and endlessly ruminating about them is non-productive.

Besides, how would one really prepare for such a thing? Unless I become a prepper and move into an underground bunker, there really is no way to get ready for something as wild as that scenario.

As the United States spins and swirls in this frenzy, I’m praying for peace. My biggest takeaway from the election so far is that we’re even more divided than I though, literally split down the middle.

I’ve learned over the years that it’s impossible to make it through life without at least some core political beliefs. I consider myself a Democrat and I usually support liberal causes. But I also know that a country, and a democracy, cannot function and flourish when there’s this much hatred, resentment, and division. It’s simply not possible.

Last thing: I have no idea what will happen, which may not be such a bad thing. I’ve been reading more articles lately from the American Buddhist perspective of this situation and thinking about uncertainty and, as one website called it, the “don’t-know mind.”

I clutch onto some certainty about what’s going on, leading to rumination and anxiety. But there is no certainty. As we say in recovery, the only thing we can really do is take it a day at a time.

The sun will rise tomorrow. Whether or not the U.S. will descend into chaos, I don’t know. But the sun will still rise, and life will go on.

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