Our relatives from Canada called on November 8, just as the night began to get fully dark, just as it was becoming clear that a campaign that had fanned intolerance and prejudice and fear, that had lauded its promise to ban Muslims and Mexicans - that campaign, that individual whose name I can't even write now - that campaign, that individual was going to be elected into office as president of the US.
Our relatives from Canada called on November 8 and said, not to expect them in the US anytime soon, being that they were Musli...but they didn't want to say the word out loud over the phone, so one of them joked and started to say Mexi.. instead but then stopped and said, well, we see M's are not going to be welcome in your country.
And I thought M - aMerica - us aMericans....
And I thought, how did we come to this? How could anyone see that such a campaign of intolerance was fit to be validated? How. A litany of Hows. How is this to be borne? How is this happening. How will the world change and contract and implode after this?
And I thought about seeing the people who elected him. How we who didn't vote for him are getting a chance to really see them - these dear neighbors, these fellow human animals, we are seeing what they fear, what they know, what they don't and what they value. How we need to see them - because they are reacting from feeling unseen, unheard, unvalidated.
And I thought also: here is a chance to experience what all other countries have experienced at one time or another, the absolute failure of see yourself and your values represented in the government. Hell, forget other countries. This is what communities within the US have been feeling for years, First Americans, African Americans...and on and on... And we - relatively recent Americans - a family from a middle class enclave in a Indian city of extremes - we are new to this feeling of wanting to see ourselves reflected in government. A sense of relating to politics wasn't part of the culture of our family. Not then...
But now...now Muslim Americans and Mexican Americans, these Ms are populations that are close to me in particular because my family is part Muslim, because Mexico is where I went to study healing, because I am working on a project about oral histories and recuerdos, memories of Hispanic ghosts towns in New Mexico, because New Mexico is home.
All of this, all of this connecting someone from India to all these unwelcome Ms in this nation of We the People.
The grief is strong.
We The People, the desire to heal is strong, to commiserate, to gather in deep silence and deep lyric.
We the people.
My dear friend Larry Littlebird who is from Kewa and Laguna pueblos speaks over and over again of listening. Listening is the greatest respect we can give someone else, he says.
We The People, can we listen.
Not in speeches, no, not those, let our silences find lyric, find song and let us gather..
That's all I can think to do first.
That's the smallest lit step I can see in a dark day.
We the people gathering in a small space, finding a way forward to heal.
We the People..human animals, human spirit. let us not lose the light that has been lit over us, we are really seeing each other, what makes the world, what makes the culture, let us keep seeing and listening and let us honor that, and let us honor each other, we the people, this diverse patchwork, this beautiful whole.