“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch
Never has a moment in my life been filled with more fire, both within and without. Living in the mountains of North Carolina, many days have been cloudy, filled with smoke from the wild fires burning all around us. A couple of weeks ago, the tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, not far away, went up in flames.
As did many of our dreams when Hillary lost the election and Donald won, fueled by hate, racism and misogyny. Civility did not rein during this election, and the consequences are still fueling the fire.
Fire Can Be Positive Or Negative
Fire can be destructive when it goes out of control, but it also has a positive side. Fire keeps us warm in the winter and cooks the food that nourishes us. The fire within often gives us the courage to do what we think we cannot do and enlivens us to trust the fire in our souls to guide us toward positive action.
How To Face the Challenge
At the current time, we face a challenge. This election was not as clear as it appeared to be at first. The number of citizens who voted for Hillary now surpasses Donald’s popular vote, so there is anger on both sides. Trump is being investigated concerning his relationship to Russia. What should be done? What decision will the electoral college make on December 19?
Our fire within has come close to the burning point. Threats and bullying toward those Donald degraded with his comments have increased. It is now more dangerous to live in this country if you are an immigrant, a woman, or of any race other than white. The foundation of our democracy is crumbling, and yet….
Around me, many whose souls are on fire are reaching out to those in need, protecting those who are being debased, protesting and speaking for the values we have always seen as the basis of this country, respect for all. When the fire within grows, it can motivate us to do what we need to do.
Yes, we need to love one another. We need to find peace. But that does not mean, we do not need to act. Expressing love and peace is not always passive. Martin Luther King taught us that in the 1960’s.
What Can We Change?
Donald Trump won for a reason. Some may have been drawn to his rhetoric because he supported their racist or misogynistic views, but some clearly were drawn to him because he was not part of the establishment they felt neglected them. They clearly did not believe Hillary would help create more jobs with better pay despite her long history of helping people who need help. They believed the lies rather than the facts.
So when our fire within heats up, let’s look around and see what needs to change and devote ourselves to participating in that change. Some things can’t be changed. For example, we live in a primarily technological society and we have fewer industrial jobs, so those who have had those jobs will have to choose to retrain and find another kind of work. Life keeps changing and we have to be willing to change with it.
Some Cultures Resist Change
Recently I read Hillbilly Elegies: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance. While I live in the North Carolina mountains and had a father who was raised in the Arkansas mountains, I was not aware that some of the qualities I had noticed in certain people were typical of a particular culture, in this case, the Appalachian white culture.
According to Vance, these people find change devastating, especially having to move from their birth place, because it separates them from their culture. Some people like Vance are willing to make the required changes to move because it is the only way they can get more education and find new jobs to support their families. Others refuse to make that choice and live on welfare or are so limited financially that they feel defeated before they start.
Among many of us, the fire within is focused on keeping life from changing; it is not focused on transformation as a positive possibility. Despite all the good Obama has done during his years in office by reducing the debt and increasing jobs, there are many who have not been directly affected by this.
Transform Anger Into Positive Action
When that fire within expresses as anger, we need to see how we can transform it into positive action. It is not easy for me to say this because I am not an activist. I am a regular voter, but I do not like politics. I am a teacher and creative person, but I know that if I want things to change, I have to be willing to participate in that change.
I am especially moved by what has happened at Standing Rock, North Dakota. The peaceful protest of Native Americans and their supporters has resulted in some change. The U. S. Corps of Engineers will look for another route for the pipeline so that it does not cross their land although the energy company is still resisting. We still don’t know for sure if their sacred sites will be respected.
I know several people who took supplies and money to the protesters at Standing Rock. I know others who worked tirelessly on the election last month and who now focus their energy on the next local and state elections. Living in a red state where the governor resisted conceding to the man who had beaten him in the election until last week, I have made some phone calls locally and nationally expressing my displeasure for what is going on with him and with Donald.
Change May Lead To A Better Life
In my own life, I have had to make many changes over the years, so I can understand why change is difficult for many. All I know is that if I had not made those changes my life would not be as good as it is today. I am grateful for those who encouraged me to look beyond my comfort zone.
When the fire within us erupts, we need to remember that allowing it to become a violent reaction will only destroy our society and lives, but channeling it into social or political action will warm our souls and save our nation.
© 2016 Georganne Spruce