Sister Sirens

Where Do We Go from Here?

The way forward.

by Ann LaBar and Karl Russek

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., “Love Your Enemies” Sermon (1957)

Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. – Thich Nhat Hahn.
As my husband Karl and I write this the outcome of our presidential race is uncertain, but it’s clear that whatever the outcome, everyone, no matter affiliation or beliefs, has work to attend to in order to better understand what’s going on in our country, and what the possible path forward may be. The deep divisions and growing antagonisms will not simply evaporate. They must be addressed and we need to find a way to function together.

We are in serious danger of a deep and abiding belief of our own moral superiority. This applies to everyone in every party and religion.

There is also the idea that one “side” or the other has a lock on objective reality. Everyone is in their own bubble and getting played by the algorithms that rule our lives to click the things that reinforce our reality whilst shaping that reality. We have willingly become a vast national uncontrolled experiment in the power of confirmation bias.

Our failure is that each of us, in our bubbles, is surprised by any of this or anything that is happening in our homes, streets, and institutions. This shows how little we know and understand about each other.

It is crucial that we understand that unless everyone seeks a way toward a different type of civil and political discourse, things will only get worse.

We CAN NOT retreat into ever more Blue but electorally disadvantaged enclaves—this is a losing proposition. Nor can we surround ourselves with other Red groups who support the further division of our nation as the necessary, and only, way forward.

We all need to put down the pompoms for “our team” and stop outsourcing our identity to internet. Start with community. Stop thinking top down and think ground up. Start with love for your neighbors— all of them. This is not easy. It is really, really hard because both sides are becoming hard hearted with their deep belief they are more moral, American, and, by God, right.

Once you have time to process the outcome, consider and act.

1. If you have ways to reach out and spend time with people who hold different views, do so. Don’t just throw up your hands due to the loudest voice in the room. Find other things to talk about, build trust, and find common ground. You’d be surprised how much we care about the same things once you remove the cultivated names we’ve been given to label our lives and each other.

2. If you don’t have this option, or can’t face the idea just yet, work on building a better bubble! If you want to get biblical, “See How They Love One Another!”–1 Peter 1:22-2:3

This is a deeply damaged culture, and to a large extent, we are all being played. But we don’t get to pout and threaten to move. That’s cowardice and irresponsible. If we want a country, a community, a neighborhood to be proud of, we all need to DO THE WORK. Everyone (yes you) will need to get out of their comfort zone.

Yet, we need to recognize and accept that by doing these things, even if a lot a people do these things well, it will not fix the country, but it can help change individual people’s lives. Doing the hard work of expressing love in the world is not really about redeeming the world, it’s about redeeming ourselves.

Not to mention, it’s a much better way to spend your time than generating ad revenue for some social media “pioneer” in the bay area by clicking on what his algorithm shows you. To paraphrase Liz Pelletier, a marketing whiz and successful publisher of popular fiction, we need to be “listeners” instead of “tappers.”

Some other things to explore on your way forward:
The Grounding Virtues of The On Being Project

Engaging others in a deeper way begins with inner work — grounding virtues before ground rules.

Go forward. Be involved. Walk in others’ shoes. Build bridges. Help others, especially those who disagree with you.

3 replies »

  1. This is a wonderful idea but I just hope we as a country are not too far divided. I have seen lifelong friends and family members sever relationships and delete people from their lives. (On social media platforms and in actual life).
    No matter what side of the fence people are on – there are good things in people’s hearts. But it seems like no one can see that right now and its heartbreaking. To see good people called evil or stupid based solely on their party affiliations makes everyone a villain in the story.
    Here is hoping we can all learn to look beyond blue and red to make the country united.


  2. Thank you, Ann and Karl, I plan to share this. I plan to be intentional about changes and hopefully bring friends and loved-ones along.

    I wish for less-biased news media, from all sides, because bias hurts credibility and stokes up emotion rather than critical thinking.

    I wish for Senators and House Representatives to not pledge allegiance to a party but to getting the work done and agreements made to benefits their constituents, the country and the world.


  3. Thank you Ann and Karl! I know these things- that we (I) need to get out and talk and care for my ‘neighbors’ – but the doing is harder than the knowing. I will endeavor to search for ways for this to happen.


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