Tears of Strength

1005003“Tears are a river that take you somewhere. Weeping creates a river around the boat that carries your soul-life. Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace new, someplace better.” Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (p. 244, Women Who Run With the Wolves)
     Too often we consider tears as a sign of weakness or someone being too emotional and we neglect to recognize their transformational power. Sometimes, everything has to break down before one can begin anew, and this feels so very relevant to our current struggles in America. Reading Dr. Estes’ “Women Who Run with Wolves” has taken on a much deeper meaning as it coincides with the first American woman to run for President, receive the Democratic nomination and win the popular vote as well as the epic battle between water and oil, or should I say water and money, at Standing Rock. I’m also studying eco-psychology and the many benefits humans enjoy through connecting with nature. We forget, in our epic struggle to dominate the natural world, that we are part of the natural world.
     This idea that we are separate from nature breaks us down, makes us sick, makes us feel feel like we don’t belong, and ultimately through a disconnect with the natural world, we lose ourselves, we lose touch with our true selves. There is such a focus, especially in American society, to spend the majority of one’s time and energy making money and buying things. It a sad and tragic downward spiral from our natural birthright into a world of commercialism, imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism. As individuals and as a whole, we value money over life, money over people or animals or water. How do we even begin to address a disconnect of this magnitude and ominously ubiquitous pervasiveness?
     When the popular vote tallies were announced, the idea that Donald Trump had won the electoral college but not the popular vote was like a kick in the stomach but I did not cry, I went to work. I joined with millions of others expressing their opinions on social media and in real life, our mutual concern for the future of America and the safety of women, people of color, people who are part of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, pretty much everyone who isn’t a white man claiming but not truly representing Christian values.
     Since the election, I have been emotionally abused by a number of strangers, their lack of decorum and level of vitriol is alarming. They viciously attack anyone who does not share their high opinion of Donald Trump, the least qualified President-elect in the history of America. They rant on about false ideas as if they are the absolute truth, shout about Hilliary or Killary, using clever tactics passed down from smarter people to spread the brainwashing to anyone with less than adequate media literacy skills or anyone who has already invested in white supremacy, misogyny, sexism, racism, #alllivesmatter (unless you’re vegan, this is not a an appropriate hashtag, it is an announcement of your hypocrisy and lack of understanding of the systemic racism and white privilege in our society), or any of the other ideologies of the Nazi/alt-right/white Nationalist, Donald Trump supporting movement. I have not been particularly bothered by the name calling, infantilizing, silencing, gas lighting, or other emotional abuse tactics because I have been riding this wave of outrage. I am just incredulous that millions of people would vote for a man who is out and proud about being a sexual predator. How is it even possible that a self described “pussy grabber” would even have a chance at winning the votes of millions of American men and women? Honestly it’s mind boggling and infuriating. And then I put eyes on their news stream and no wonder, the outlandish, inflammatory stories they are being spoon fed by Fox News, and a ridiculous amount of right wing, “writes like it’s news but it’s either just opinions or outright lies” media outlets, and I both understood and was appalled at how confirmation bias can lead people to invest in some otherwise unbelievable stories. I was thinking about the state of America and all the hate, suspicion and bigotry while driving to Boulder for work and I was overwhelmed by fiery, angry tears. I felt so betrayed by my fellow Americans.
     Yet these tears did not stop my protesting, if anything they fueled my fire. I did not cry out of weakness or self pity because my side lost, supposedly but we shall see in the next few weeks, the real outcome, the recounts, investigations into alleged Russian interference, hacked voting machines, gerrymandering, Trumps lack of ethics and disregard for the office of President, and finally the actions of the Electoral College who may or may not decide to vote Trump into power (a huge mistake), vote Hillary into office (possibly starting another civil war, probably centered in the southern states), or pick some third person, hopefully Bernie but more like some other right wing Republican nut job. Whatever the results, I may cry but not out of weakness. I will cry tears of strength, tears of resilience, tears to cleanse, tears to create a flow so that my boat will travel downriver, tears to fuel might against oppression, tears for the safety of my brothers and sisters, tears for our humanity but not tears of helplessness, only tears of strength.
     “There are oceans of tears women have never cried, for they have been trained to carry mother’s and father’s secrets, men’s secrets, society’s secrets, and their own secrets to the grave. A woman’s crying has been considered quite dangerous, for it loosens the locks and bolts on the secrets she bears. But in truth, for the sake of a woman’s wild soul, it is better to cry. For women, tears are the beginning of initiation into the Scar Clan, that timeless tribe of women of all colors, all nations. all languages, who down through the ages have lives through a great something, and yet who stood proud, still stand proud.” Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estès (p. 244 Women Who Run with the Wolves)

One thought on “Tears of Strength

  1. Yet again, your passionate writing has swept me up! I want to address two things here, as they have been plaguing me as well about this election:

    1) I have felt the need to cry because of this election, but have been resisting and suppressing that desire, as if it is weak. This blog reminds me of the power in crying, the power to speak one’s truth and to stand against the evil and wrong that are the source of our tears.

    2) It is quite difficult to rationalize the turn against “facts” in this election. It is ghastly to watch millions of people prove themselves to be illiterate. As a teacher, it saddens me beyond words. Teaching fails if our students cannot read and discern rhetoric from fact. I believe, sadly, that this is really the case. So many people do not understand how language operates. They do not understand how rhetoric (especially from egotistical demigods) twists and turns rational thought into irrational fear. They do not understand how they have become puppets in someone else’s show because they do not read more frequently. I truly believe a lot of the fault for this can be laid at the door of our shifting culture, in its desire for flashy and passive reception of material (i.e. tv, movies, etc.). I’m with Stephen King here in noting the need to push literacy more now than ever (see his recent thoughts here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/26/he-has-a-real-shot-stephen-king-talks-about-his-horror-of-a-trump-presidency).


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