The whole US election made me want to crawl under a rock or jump off a cliff. (I chose the rock as it seemed like the safer of the two). I had open talks with the kids during meditation about what is going on in the country of my birth. Not political, but ethical and moral characteristics, about how one of the most powerful countries in the world had the option to put a horrible man in power. A man who will put more powerful and horrible men (and a couple of women for good measure) in power and collectively they will have the power to destroy an insurmountable number of lives.
My nightmare came true. Humanity will leave the white house in 2017.
I told them that they can kiss their chances of visiting the US goodbye (although I would not have encouraged it regardless who was the president). I talked to the kids about, not only the US, but how many many bad things are happening in the world. Things that will really not affect their lives whatsoever, but happenings they should know about in order to be global citizens.
I couldn't talk too much to the older kids about the massive death and destruction going on even as I type. About the fear in the lives of children who at one time had a life like theirs. How I fear that 2017 may bring much more of the same. I didn't want my kids to see my cry.
It's not that I've given up hope. I'm an idealist and a peace worker, but I am a realistic idealist...or an idealistic realist. I have not been given the choice to have a quiet life only thinking of myself and my loved ones. Somewhere in my DNA is a driving force to not turn a blind eye, even if there is absolutely nothing earthly I can do about it.
I went off of social media for over a month. A month where the only negativity I felt was here in my physical presence, and it was few and far between. I felt free, a bit disconnected, but free. So this is what life could be! Concentrating on those issues and people in my physical presence. Forgetting there is a wide world outside our gates. Outside of the confines of Cambodia. If only I could have made it last...
It wasn't possible for me. Not only did I miss what was going on in my family and with my close friends, I missed being a part of something bigger, a part of the wide world. How could I turn my back on the world? I am no longer that innocent little Midwest girl I used to be. Dammit.
With little to no internet, a month or so ago I bought a refurbished iPhone. I needed to be able to use the phone as a hotspot to get online on the office computer. With this new toy, I unfortunately became used to having news at my fingertips. Posts I deemed having negative content (anything that made my blood rise) started showing up regularly. It didn't take long to notice a change in my attitude. I was not as forgiving with the kids, I was not as tolerant of noise, I desperately wanted a drink some nights.
It wasn't because of reading what was going on in global news, it was reading the thoughts and opinions of the global news from the mouths of people I knew. People who I found out all of a sudden had extreme differences in opinion from my own. Hearing hatred and sexism and how people were regarding someone with any kind of a different ideology with such a forcefully negative attitude was something that took me by surprise.
I'm not new to someone close to me not understanding my point of view, and not even trying to think outside their own little box.. Quite a few years ago, it was remarked to me by (at the time) a good friend,-when I had traveled home to visit my family- "Oh, one of these days, you are going to come home with a black baby." she said. Not wanting to rock the boat because we were in (of all places) a catholic church, "
I think that's the first time I really felt like an outsider in my own town. Amongst "my people". The remark was dumbfounding to say the least. I didn't get it, "like what the hell". I started to question what she actually meant by it. Why did she say it? What did she mean by it? What does she think of me? and on and on. Then it occurred to me that there was probably not much thought put into the comment at all. It was a remark from someone who thought that having a baby with darker skin than my own would be an atrocity. It stemmed from pure ignorance, racism and fear of 'the other'. From a lack of understanding, from a lack of realizing that a 'good Catholic woman' such as herself has forgotten the teachings of her savior.
The year 2016 brought people into my life, people with beautiful souls who carried their pain and suffering with dignity and with a strength that many will never be able to achieve. Resilient children who have embraced the new life (at Wat Opot) that they have been given, adult's who are learning to live without their only child, and others who are just beginning their journey to find peace.
With many new faces joining our large family, it's easy to get swallowed up in daily life, but each evening in the quiet sanctity of my bedroom, I am aware of what is going on outside my home, aware of those whose lives are not going as planned, and those that are overcoming odds. Aware of the pain, the suffering but also the joy and living.
It feels like a delicate balance to live a sane productive life.