Last night, I posted a quote from Rumi on Facebook. It was a short poem dug up from the recesses of my brain, something that made me feel rebellious--something bold I needed to grab onto after last week's soul-draining events:
“Forget safety.I wanted to feel unafraid, brash, courageous, untethered to the conventional, myopic view of people with whom I went to high school. In short, a thinly veiled message to my Republican friends that I was never like them in high school, and that I won't be like them tomorrow.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
But this morning, after reading the poem again, I realized that the poem rang true for me, not as inspiration but as validation.
I do forget my safety every day -- mostly out of impulsiveness, rather than any kind of bravery. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good quality. On the other hand, it has put me in unusual situations throughout my life, encountering the world in all its beauty and desperation.
More significant to my present-day life, however, is the exhortation to "live where you fear to live." I live in a deep red county. Every trip to Kroger's, I find myself parked next to a truck or a small, beat up Chevy covered in stickers railing against everything from socialism to Obama, and hailing Rush being right and the Tea Party being God's gift to the Constitution. Rebel flags, racism, and right-wing religion rule. We bought our van from a guy who ran for the local school board on a creationist platform.
Guns and God were the chief talking points during the 2010 Republican Party primary for the U.S. congressional seat. All six candidates stood on the stage, "debating" who was more pro-gun and pro-God, moderated by a Tea Party leader who was fond of invoking his interpretation of the original intent of the framers of our Constitution.
[A humorous aside: Several years ago, during the rash of attacks on Democratic Party offices across the country, ours was also attacked. Instead of using bullets, someone wrote "Dorks" across the front window of our space. I think it was sort of charming.]
I don't live in fear of my life. Not really. I just live in fear of ugly confrontation surrounded by mostly impoverished libertarians who are convinced their ship is coming in and no government will stop them from taking every inch of cargo. And in this environment, every day I dig deep to find hope that our divisions will eventually fade. Or that I will destroy my reputation, become notorious, and just not care.