|Emily VanLaeys 1-21-17|
Recent studies show that 61,000 bridges in the United States are in need of repair. One might wonder if it wouldn't be more beneficial for the American people to have our bridges repaired rather than to build a wall between our country and Mexico. The cost of the wall proposed by Donald Trump would be phenomenal, and its future success in making our country more secure is doubtful, as explained in this article: Estimating the True Cost of Trump's Wall.
When I decided to join the Oneonta People's March for human rights on January 21st, I knew my sign would say: "Build Bridges, Not Walls." Building bridges between different faiths, cultures, and groups of people has always been my passion. Now, more than ever,
it is time to think about ways to build bridges and promote understanding with people we may not have a lot in common with. I am proud to live in a community where people are working to build bridges, where we frequently have forums to promote understanding between people of different faiths or races, where my UU minister traveled to Standing Rock to support the Native Americans in protecting their land and water, and where the Presbyterian minister is co-teaching a class with a Muslim friend: Muslim Women: Myths and Realities.
One thing I have come to realize over the past year is that I cannot build bridges by discussing politics with people of different persuasions. These discussions turn into arguments which generate bad feelings between friends and create walls between people of different opinions. So it is my intention to focus my efforts on peaceful work, whether demonstrating for human rights, sending messages to my representatives in D.C., or praying and focusing on Love and Light in my meditations.
Changing the world for the better takes both action and spiritual work. Some people are better suited to one kind of work more than the other. I try to do some of each, but political work is harder because it requires that I stay focused on Love and Light while thinking about the devastating decisions being made by leaders who have no compassion for anyone who isn't lining their pockets with more money. Perhaps this is the main challenge for my life: to remain a beacon of Light no matter what tempest is swirling all around me.
We hear over and over that gratitude is the key to a blessed life. Despite the horrors I see in the world around me, I am continually buoyed up by the way negative actions beget actions of love and compassion. We see this with the outpourings of assistance that come from neighbors when disaster strikes. We saw it when thousands of people from all walks of life, including at least 2,000 vets, travelled to Standing Rock to support the water protectors. We saw it when over 2 million people around the world demonstrated for human rights on January 21st. We saw it when tens of thousands of people rallied in U.S. cities and in airports to protest the order to prevent immigrants and green card holders from coming into the country. I am grateful for all of these outpourings of compassion, and hope to see even more demonstrations of love and unity as we, the people of the world, seek ways to build bridges of oneness.