An article in May 19, 2016 The New Yorker magazine “The Year of the Political Troll” sent shivers up and down my spine. It commented on the fact of outrage in American society. Rage is the symptom of injustice. It’s probably the inevitable result when the political powers that be—Republican and Democrat alike—pay lip service to the American dream, but don’t provide the policy and structural framework for its realization. Well-founded, but undisciplined rage, rising up in a political movement, feels like a category 5 hurricane.
Do you feel like a sailor in a tiny boat hammered by chaotic winds on a boiling sea? In the face of political chaos, it’s tempting to feel small and untethered. As I finished The New Yorker article, the image of a sea anchor popped into my mind—a drag chute sailers deploy if their boat is disabled in a storm. The following description is from seaanchor.com:
Attitude Stabilization. With sails down or engine out your boat will become unstable – SIDEWAYS – rolling sickeningly, rails buried in the troughs. A Sea Anchor will force the bow back into the seas and restore stability allowing you to go about the business of pumping out, making repairs, or going up the mast if necessary.
Thinking about American politics, the description resonates metaphorically: the feeling of instability, slipping sideways, and rolling sickeningly amidst the fruitless bullying and bad mouthing. For a time now, daily meditation has been my sea anchor. The practice of interior silence—calmly letting go of what ever comes to my awareness—has been my stability system. The winds still blow. Angers, griefs, and anxieties still rise up. But they don’t blow me off course or capsize my boat. I’m not drowning in the heaving seas that pass for news these days.
We need to reach out to our elected officials and people running for political office, to ask about their solitary lives. “Do you have a stability system, a psychic GPS, a self-righting mechanism—a sea anchor?” It could be any of a myriad daily practices: meditation, sitting in silence, praying, walking, jogging, writing in a journal, self-orienting reading—whatever it takes to deploy an interior sea anchor that keeps people from being swept away in the rhetoric or capsizing amidst the chaos and losing their human integrity.
I would be a great loss if we didn’t reach out and encourage one another to keep our wits about us and face into the wind. It’s high time to invite my conservative Republican neighbor over for a cup of coffee and a good listen. We have some basic human relationship building to do to make up for lost time. Rapport and reason have to start somewhere.