My brother in law was eavesdropping on my sister in law's Facebook conversation with her friend. They are Trump supporters and he is not, and he went on the attack. She informed my husband that she cut off her brother. My husband, who's political views align with his brother's, is upset and hurt by both his brother's impulsive behavior and his sister's reaction to it. I am watching what I fear are just one of many battles between family members, battles made more frequent by our current situation.
This morning, I'm feeling so deeply worried, afraid really, about where my country is headed, that I feel much more understanding toward my brother in law. Facebook is an big part of his life, which is a big part of the problem. But this man, more isolated because of health problems, is no more worried and afraid than I am. I have outlets to express my grief, yet I'm still emotionally backed up. I imagine he is as well I can understand how he might lash out at his sister out of pure frustration.
My routine for many years has been to get up and read the newspaper. If I do that these days, I begin my day full of anxiety. This morning I checked in on the news and felt so downhearted I had to stop. But before I did, I googled this question: "Are we in a civil war?" Because I think we are. It's not a shooting war—fortunately, because my side doesn't have the guns. When we studied the Civil War as children, we learned that it turned brother against brother. Families, which at their best provide the most basic of human comfort and safety, were riven by their opposing views. We were told to imagine drawing a gun on our little brother or sister and shooting them. That was how the horror of the Civil War was brought home to us as young children.
I know my sister in law to be a loving person. How do I square this knowledge with the positions she's willing to take? I read articles explaining how rural white people feel left behind as our country gives a leg up to minorities with a legitimate claim to oppression, a zero sum game in which they were the losers. That is the part they can see, along with trade policies, but less the automation and digitization which gave them smartphones but took away their ability to support their families. It's easy for me to criticize their view as narrow from my status on the other side of that resource divide. My sister in law and her friend have guns, though I don't believe they would blame me for their feelings. But what if Trump is successful in convincing them otherwise? Because I'm quite sure that is exactly his plan. That's how he wins, winning always his unquenchable thirst, by manifesting anger around him, regardless of what "side" it arises from.
The threat of guns is enough. The actual weapons, twitter and facebook, are proxies for the guns. If everyone decided to back up their proxies with guns, the big winner would be the gun industry. The weapons industry has always benefitted from fear, anger, war and destruction. There are no new human flaws.
If guns are the weapons of hate and fear, what are the "weapons" of peace and love? Listening and compassion can seem so weak against those destructive weapons.
When I'm not catching up on the news, which I only do enough to stay abreast of things these days, I'm reading what spiritual teachers suggest to help in these dire times. They say we are on a knife's edge. Our species, along with the millions of species whose fate rests with us, can fall either into self-destruction and the enormous and infinitely laborious do-over that entails; or join the mass awakening to our true nature and purpose as expressions of divine love. To which I can hear some of my dubious compatriots respond, "Uh, maybe we should just get our own guns."
Today, I admit, my view is colored by the grief I feel, also the fear I feel for those I know and love, those I don't know but somehow still love, and to be very honest, myself as well.