The Personal is Political


You’re overdue for a love letter, don’t you think? Some good news?

Well here it is, and believe it or not, it’s about you.

You are a good person. I know it. I’ve watched you shyly from the sidelines as you go about your day, and so have others, all around you. You hold a tremendous amount of love in your heart. (I know, you’re shy and modest when someone calls you out on that, and so am I, but hear me – you do!) You care about people. You treat others with respect and decency. I’ve seen it. And sure, sometimes you have your moments, but all in all, you’re doing a good job. What? Yes. You’re doing a good job.

The decision, and the decency of treating others with respect and consideration is personal. Doesn’t it feel personal? And it is also political. It is a decision about how things are going to be, for us, for our neighbors, for our children.

When I think of the political figures I admire most, Martin Luther King Jr tops the list. His motivation was love – a belief in the common goodness of all people, regardless of color – a belief that we can rise, together, and make the world a better place for all people. Because of this vision, some people hated him, and some still do. But when faced with their hatred, he stood up to them with dignity, self-respect, and respect for others. This kind of love is disarming. It is the most personal thing in the world, and it is also a political act, sometimes one of great courage.

We’re long overdue for a love letter that calls out the praises of this kind of love, which can move mountains, as they say. Love for our children, and a vision of a better world for them is “soft power.” It is the same power that connects friends and families across great distances, and brings tears to our eyes when we embrace each other at last in the same room again. Did you have any idea that this kind of love is power? It is the most enduring and deeply strong power in the universe. And it is a power that you use every day.

Don’t give it up. Stay strong. Let it rise.

Recently, in Turkey, military tanks rolled out into the streets, in a forceful attempt to take over the democratically elected government. The history of that country is wracked with coups, and the threat of violence on the part of the military against the government. I have friends there who witnessed what occurred, and they told me – this time something happened that had never happened before in that country’s history. Ordinary people like you and me rushed out into the streets to say “no.” Thousands of them rose, from all social classes, from all walks of life. They had no weapons, no training, and many lost their lives. But even in the face of warplanes and machine guns, they prevailed. They prevailed.

The time of bullying and power-as-force is ending. Is it over? No. But it will end – not because we fight back with the same kinds of hateful treatment we see around us with dismay, but because of the decency and respect for each other that we hold in our hearts. There is a place – in the world that is already forming all around us – that recognizes love as power, that understands how to use more dominant forms of power with maturity and respect. It is totally possible to be protective, assertive, passionate, even patriotic, while holding a vision and a standard of respect, without hatred or malice.

Hold that vision. It’s for all of us, democrat, republican, black, white, brown, rich or poor, man, or woman.

Hatred can never triumph over love, because love is much, much stronger. Go on practicing it, because that practice creates the very fabric of our reality, which neither machine guns nor belittling words can ever tear. We’re stronger than that.

Keep breathing, and keep doing what you do.

While I’m at it (and I hope you’re enjoying this love letter), I think we’re overdue for a woman president. Not because there is something essential about being a woman, necessarily, but because it will mean that we have found a better, life-giving balance between the different, sometimes opposing aspects of our own psyches – that we honor all of them – and among the diversity of people with whom we share this small and precious world.  It doesn’t really matter to me what her name is. I’d like her to be someone who understands how to use power wisely, in all its forms. And that is something we can all teach, and learn.

Love alone is a start, an essential element, to which we can – and must – add an ability to set boundaries around the things that are precious to us, without animosity, just simple, powerful clarity. And then, a sense of drive to move forward into creating the kind of future we all want to share.

Whoever our first woman president will be, I know that she is coming. She’s probably even be among us, right now. Keep a quiet eye on her – she is your neighbor, your teacher, the mayor of your town or city, or a member of your state legislature – or maybe she is your child, your co-worker, your friend. Look for her, help her grow strong and brave and true. Look for her in your own heart, because she is there, waiting. I bow, with gratitude, to the task of paving the way for her.

P.S. A special thank you today to my friend and teacher Linda Kohanov who, through her ongoing work with the horses, has taught me how to better understand and work with the many different forms and facets of power. If you would like support in tapping into your own ability to rise, with dignity and strength, when faced with domineering, bullying force or subtle intimidation, email me for more info. My next live workshops in Arizona will be called:

(1) 7 Essential Life Skills for Women (and How to Embody them) and
(2) Empower your Parenting through the Way of the Horse.

I would be happy to support you personally via the web or phone, or in finding reputable EFL resources in your area.

Together, we can – and do – make the world a better place.