It is Over, It is Just Beginning by Kate Brunner


katebrunnerqueenanneslace“In this nation of thinkers and philosophers, poets and artists, idealists and enthusiasts, the world will recognize nothing but a people of conquerors and destroyers. …we are neither loved nor respected, but only feared. We are deemed capable of every wickedness, and the distrust felt for us grows ever more pronounced….”

These are the private musings of German prince, Friedrich Wilhelm Nikolaus Karl, — Friedrich III (or apparently “Fritz” to his friends) — on the disturbing nature of the Second Reich under his father, Wilhelm I & the “Iron Chancellor”, Otto von Bismarck. Friedrich wrote these words in his diary roughly a century and a half ago.

It is somewhat disheartening and downright eerie how the words of history echo so familiarly into the present moment sometimes. My children & I read this primary source excerpt together during our homeschooling studies last week and it struck me in the heart.

This week, I began writing my monthly piece in the days leading up to Election Day 2016; a piece that would publish shortly after my state and my nation made a slew of very crucial decisions about our future as a people.

When I thought about those decisions, I didn’t actually mean the official returns.

Yes, I knew we’d elect a President, a new variety of Representatives and Senators, some Governors, and an assortment state-level officials. We’d answer the fate of ballot initiatives, state constitution amendment questions, and bond referendums. But more important to me was and is the question of what would happen and is now happening in our hearts, minds, and communities now that the returns are in.

The most tumultuous election cycle of my lifetime will be over when you read this. It will finally be over. But life post-Election Day 2016 is just beginning.

I didn’t know how I would feel until it happened. And now I do. I am heart-broken, sorrow-filled, and angry. Very, very angry.

As they often do during times of personal turmoil, I find my thoughts turning towards stories that help me process. Sometimes, those stories are ancient — mythology from thousand year old cultures — and sometimes the stories that guide me are drawn from our modern bardic repertoire know as television & film. As a self-proclaimed Whedonite and a wannabe Scooby, sometimes I ask myself WWBD? — “What would Buffy do?”

buffyposterIn the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon and the show’s cast & crew put together a musical episode that was later nominated for an Emmy and even involved in subsequent Emmy ballot drama. So, the show is no stranger to election politics of a sort. The musical episode, “Once More With Feeling”, contained the major emotional pivot point of the sixth season, when all the things Buffy Summers and her friends have been keeping from each other are revealed in song and dance. By the end of the show, everyone knows everyone else’s secrets; big, little, dirty, or clean. Everyone is revealed for who they are in the moment. Not unlike what we’ve experienced over the last couple years in our American electoral politics – our country is revealed for who we are in this moment.

In the final musical number of the episode, the entire cast stands at a loss. It’s over. Everything is out in the open. And they find themselves singing, “Where do we go from here?” It’s all over. And yet, it’s just beginning.

I am trying to look past the hard results of this election, past who won and lost, who will be sworn in to which offices, and in these scary, challenging moments, I find myself singing the same refrain. Where do we go from here?

We’ve done an incredible job of convincing the world and ourselves that we are “nothing but a people of conquerors and destroyers” who should be “neither loved nor respected, but only feared.” and “deemed capable of every wickedness”. So where, indeed, do we go from here?

The election is over. Life after Election Day 2016 is just beginning. We still wake up and live through our days. We still have families and friends and strangers to care for. We still have obligations to fulfill, prayers to make, meals to share, jobs to do.

“Why is the path unclear
When we know home is near?
Understand we’ll go hand in hand
But we’ll walk alone in fear
Tell me!
Where do we go from here?

I am going to try to start by remembering we are still a “nation of thinkers and philosophers, poets and artists, idealists and enthusiasts” and begin again to live into that. I am going to try to reject continuing to “walk alone in fear“. As hard and as scary as the prospect is, I will try to love, hope, create, serve, breathe, stretch, help, pray, dance, sing, think, grow, and walk together in remembrance of the best, most beautiful, most compassionate teachings of humanity’s myriad faith traditions. This is where I hope I can eventually get myself to, even with all of today’s sorrow and rage.

The election is over. Thank God/dess. Many of us are left questioning whether or not we are still the home of the free any longer. But what I do not question is that we are still the land of the brave. What we do with this ending, this beginning is entirely up to us.

So, maybe a better question to ask myself than WWBD? is WWYD? What will you do? Where do we go from here?

*********

ETA: Today, I’ve decided that I am going to start small and take a page from the post-Brexit #safetypin & Australian #illridewithyou campaigns. For the foreseeable future, I’ll be wearing a single suffragette “pearl” on a safety pin, fastened over my heart to let anyone who crosses my path know I am a safe person to ask for help should they ever feel unsafe or threatened in my country. And notice I said anyone — I mean it too. ALL of my fellow Americans. Even the ones who would seek to strip me of rights and protections. As challenging as it may be, the service my faith demands of me does not discriminate. So does the call of the Slayer, for that matter. WWBD? I’ll let her answer that for herself:

“From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”

~Buffy Summers, Season 7, Episode 22 “Chosen” (the series finale)~

safetypin

Kate M. Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a resident of Heartwood Cohousing in Bayfield, Colorado & a homeschooling mother of three. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate hosts seasonal women’s gatherings, priestesses labyrinth rituals, and facilitates workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. During 2017, she will present at the SOA’s annual online conference, AvaCon, & at the second annual Ninefold Festival in Colorado. She is also published in Flower Face: A Devotional Anthology in Honor of Blodeuwedd and The Goddess in America: The Divine Feminine in Cultural Context.

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Categories: Film, Music, Myth, Politics, Popular Culture

Tags: , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Love the pin. And yes, we can start now, even if it begins with something as simple as a pin and a pearl of hope and love.

    Like

  2. As regards being fearful of what is to come?

    The most difficult outcome of Trump’s presidency is the lack of environmental responsibility as far as we know in Trump’s agenda. Hillary Clinton has said the following: “I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.”

    Trump has called climate change a “Chinese hoax.” So my hope is that Clinton and her liberal colleagues in the congress, and in the news media, will continue to speak out and strenuously challenge the Trump presidency to continue to protect our environment. If there are any doubts that climate change is real, see the article at wikipedia.org titled: “Scientific opinion on climate change” —

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    • Indeed. As I watch the names being floated for what will pass for environmental leadership in the coming administration, I am horrified. It’s willfully committing us to furthering our own extinction. Grassroots environmental activism must continue to grow exponentially.

      Like

  3. Thank you for your fierce, compassionate, inspiring post. Will be looking for my pin & pearl!

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  4. I read somewhere that Trump might name either Donald Jr. or Eric as Secretary of the Interior. These are the sons that travel around Africa and other lands killing animals to be trophies. He’ll probably build a casino IN the Grand Canyon.

    Kate, thanks for writing this. I don’t know anything about Buffy. In fact, when I bought the Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing, I’d never heard of most of the cast. It’s a wonderful version of the play.

    Where can I get my pearl and safety pin?

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    • Buffy is incredible social commentary if one looks beneath the surface. Joss Whedon was once asked why he always creates story lines with these strong female protagonists. His response was basically “Because you keep asking me that question.”

      The Whedonesque Facebook page is just nailing it right now with their use of Buffy and other Whedon show material to respond to the current situation. I’ve got Buffy on in the background as I write my book today and even though I’ve seen it a zillion times, pieces of it are reaching me in fresh (sometimes painful) ways.

      As far as pearl beads and safety pins, any ole’ craft shop will do. Buy a pack of each for less than $10 & make heaps for all your willing friends and neighbors.

      Like

  5. I will keep watching those who compose a “nation of thinkers and philosophers, poets and artists, idealists and enthusiasts” and they will be my image of the US. I saw and listened to “the Ugly American” in a cafe in France, criticizing and “putting down” the Country they were visiting, comparing it unfavourably to home (NJ I think). But there were only two of them. Our group, mostly from the US, was filled with 20 or so people eager to learn, to appreciate, to form bonds of community. 20 to 2…we got them beat!
    Yesterday I found a video and posted it on FB. It was very helpful to me as a guideline. I share it here…
    http://www.themarysue.com/bystanders-harassment-guide/

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  6. WWBD?
    Answer: She would stop the apocalypse…..again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “our country is revealed for who we are” – yes. It is not surprising what we are, but that the dirty laundry is laid out on the table without remorse, that almost is. Maybe at least we can begin to have an honest conversation. Maybe.

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  8. As always you take me off the ledge and give me a direction. Thank you I will find a pin. Maybe as LaChelle noted that all our nasty stuff has been laid bare and the reckoning will begin. I do believe we are at some kind of tipping point where the divided either find a peaceful way to coexist or not. On the other hand, I am still really, really angry and have taken myself on a mental health break from most everything and everyone for a time. I think I am working my way through the grieving process not for the election per se but what was lost and the losses that I fear to come for the US and around the world.

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  9. I need Buffy’s honesty, hope, and badassery now more than ever. I’m thankful there are others out there who understand and honor her significance. Let’s keep on keeping on and always asking WWBD :)

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    • Yes – the only option left to us is to Stand up and Speak Out continuously in whatever way we can. I personally have signed up to work with Move to Amend. I am considering being one of the progressives who infiltrates and takes over the Democratic Party by becoming a precinct committee person. These are the folks who elect party leadership and it’s how the Tea Party took over the Republican party.

      The results and the immediate aftermath are horrifying. I’m finding it hard to forgive the folks who voted for Trump – maybe I’ll get there.

      Like

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