Three Small Words
by Dr. Rose Hart
On January 21, 2017, I was privileged to attend the Women’s March in Washington DC. It was an honor to be in the capitol with family, friends, like-minded, and like-hearted others.
The trip reflected my own privilege as well, a well-educated professional with the economic resources to travel from one coast to another in order to stand in support of ideals at the center of my own identity and abundance; equality, diversity, acceptance.
We had decided to march in D.C almost immediately after the election was called, numb, and enraged, stupefied by the outcome. I waited to confirm a flight until the permit situation cleared. I would travel to stay with family in Baltimore, and we’d journey from there. At the time of our decision, the trains were already full. My sister organized a car to transport us early that Saturday morning and return late afternoon.
We arrived in D.C. at eight in the morning, traffic being much lighter than anticipated. Our driver Dan, was pleasant and we made our arrangements for the pick up. We got a coffee, used the bathrooms at the Holiday Inn, and made our way toward the center of the event.
What a sense of creative freedom! Pussy hats every shade of pink, of exotic materials, design, and construction. And the signs! Signs that stopped your breath with truth. Or with their anguish. References to the lessons of history and humor.
My favorite was two sided:
“There are a lot more people here today than there were yesterday.” Flip. “Just Sayin.”
Snide but savvy.
The crowds built and people pressed closer. I passed a woman and told her I loved her button, “Love trumps hate.” She unpinned it. Then she smiled and handed it to me. That gesture defined my day.
I keep the pin on my raincoat. I’ve looked on line and they’re easy enough to buy, but this one is special. I thought I’d lost it and searched relentlessly, systematic until I discovered it at midnight under the driver’s seat in my car.
The colorful words, the pun, the gesture, the constant winter rain kept those three words in my mind’s eye. I began rearranging them, discovering other meaningful and sly messages. Like mantras. “Hate loves Trump.” “Trump loves hate.” “Love Trump’s hate.”
Well, you get it.
“Love Trump’s Hate” reminded me of a Buddhist meditation practice called tonglen. Author and abbot, Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist who writes about practicing peace in difficult times, embodies the Buddhist contemplative tradition. She described tonglen meditation as a practice of taking and sending, of receiving and giving out.
In this practice one might take in pain and send out relief, or take in toxic rage and send out ….loving acceptance. For oneself, for others, for the world. Tonglen is a meditation for difficult times. Like these. Yes, I could imagine loving Trump’s hate as a meditative challenge, the expression of my own Resistance.
Compassion comes from a shared sense of humanity, from our kinship with one another. It is inclusive and nonviolent. My practice of loving Trump’s hate becomes my Resistance, my way to move the march, forward one breath at a time.
And if I ever master this, or if you’re looking for your own way forward, well there are those other three-word combinations.
Dr. Rose Hart is a clinical psychologist who lives in a city in the northwest often parodied on TV.
A nom de plume, Dr. Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org