Tag Archive | R. Hubbell

Compassionate Presence

Grateful every day for living here.

Yesterday was challenging for me, as I know it was for many people. The domestic terror attack on the US Capitol shook up a lot of Americans, even some who had been sleeping as the groundwork for it was laid by the president and his enablers. But it wasn’t the event itself, or even the government’s and media’s whitewashing of the egregious double-standard of law enforcement response when compared to crackdowns on Black Lives Matter peaceful demonstrations across the country last year. It was one word that undid me: Proud.

Like many meditators these days, I participate in a virtual meditation group, or sangha, that meets over the phone every weekday morning. I’m grateful for those who were there with me in the beginning more than four years ago, and for those who have joined since, grateful for our commitment to balancing our own minds, and trying to bring balance into the world with our daily practices of stability, kindness, and insight. Our teacher brings great skills to leading us in contemplation day after day, and has a remarkable capacity to respond to the needs of the group in the moment. Some mornings we do checkins, some mornings we jump straight into meditation. Some days checkins can be lengthy, and some mornings we do the ‘two-word checkin’, which is what she asked for yesterday, in light of events in DC.

Those two words yesterday morning from a dozen people included longing for safety, numb, hopeful, upset, startled, grateful, disappointed, anger, disbelief, and proud. The last word was spoken by the only Trump supporter in the group. I spent the whole meditation trying to figure out a positive interpretation of that word, and I couldn’t do it. I was gobsmacked by the idea that anyone could be proud of what transpired at the Capitol yesterday. I spent the rest of the day turning it over and over in my mind and heart, discussing it with a few friends: maybe she was proud of the Capitol police for not escalating the violence? maybe she was proud of… what? else? could she possibly have meant?

I exercised mindfulness skills in directing my attention elsewhere, but I still couldn’t shake the icky feeling that someone I know was proud of the white nationalist terrorists who attacked, looted, and contaminated the Capitol in an effort to subvert constitutional order.

I walked the dogs to the top of the driveway, where our neighbor has hung a Trump flag, and on the way back it struck me, Maybe he is also proud of the white nationalist assault on our nation’s capital… This sinking feeling was amplified this morning when I read that 45% of republicans approve of this terrorist act; but yesterday, I continued to try to redirect my attention, looking for gratitude, making Pad Thai for lunch, digging under snow to find a few feeble tips of green onion, which tasted extra sweet.

… and baking focaccia crackers for the first time. I’m grateful for the magic of YEAST! I’m grateful for fresh rosemary growing in a pot in the sunroom. I’m grateful there are recipes for anything and everything online.

As more clarity comes from the professionals who are unpacking what actually happened at the Capitol Wednesday, I’m grateful for the alert congressional staffers who whisked the certified electoral college votes to safety, precluding even more chaos if they had been burned or stolen by the Republican terrorists. I am now not so grateful to the Capitol police, some or many of whom appear to have abetted the attackers; though I’m still grateful that there were undoubtedly some or many who tried to do their job well in a terrible situation. I’m grateful to R. Hubbell for calling out the truth with this cogent assessment:

The relevant differences are that those who attacked the Capitol are
         White.         Republicans.         Future voters for Cruz, Hawley, Cotton, Rubio, et al.
         … The media are normalizing terrorism by refusing to call it by name.

He goes on to call out the Department of Justice, the ‘Problem Solvers’ Caucus, congressional Republicans, and others, for the same thing, normalizing white supremacist terrorism by refusing to call it by name, when ‘terrorist’ is routinely applied to people of color in more benign protests.

Yesterday, our meditation teacher responded to our two-word checkins with a meditation called “Seeing Truth Clearly.” Cynthia Wilcox rose to the occasion in a way that I can only aspire to at this point in my mindfulness studies. I’m inexpressibly grateful to have reconnected with this high school classmate, ten years ago around our common interest in Buddhism, through the (qualified) magic of Facebook. Grateful for her wisdom and generosity of spirit, for how she can hold the same confusion I have with far more compassionate presence, which incidentally was the meditation she brought to us today. I invite you to set aside about 25 minutes sometime, settle comfortably into a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and follow one of these meditations. Maybe both. Make some time for mental health the same way you do for physical health, and cultivate balance, clarity, understanding, and compassion for yourself and all beings.

Seeing Truth Clearly
Compassionate Presence

“Today’s Edition” Saved My Sanity

Grateful for gorgeous sunset view on Solstice, and for my bonsai California Redwood, and for Cynthia who brought it to me as a rooted twig over a decade ago, and for cheap colored LED fairy lights to brighten even the darkest night.

Grateful for Robert Hubbell, a wise, compassionate attorney in LA whom I’d have never known if not for Sarah Juniper forwarding me a copy of his newsletter last year. He started writing what is already a historical record of the White House’s descent into madness on the day after the 2016 election, as “a way of providing support and hope for my three daughters and close friends who were shocked and anxious…”

This evening R. Hubbell hosted a holiday zoom party for a thousand of his closest readers. What began as a small circle had widened by the time I jumped on to around 5,000 readers, and continues to grow exponentially, as other readers like me share it with friends and family who are suffering under the constant stress and trauma of the current regime’s assault on our planet and democracy.

Raising a glass with a thousand of his closest friends and his Managing Editor, toasting the activism of his readers.

Each year Hubbell hosts a holiday party for readers, and this year he hosted the party on Zoom. Ellie and I got our RSVPs in early enough to join the party, and were beside ourselves with excitement to meet this man who has brought so much calm and optimism to our lives during this absurdly fraught election. Each evening Hubbell thoroughly parses the day’s news, synthesizing many sources from journalistic mainstays and obscure trade journals, and we wake to a sane, reassuring recap that calms nerves and inspires action. I have no doubt that his dedicated effort to inform Americans over the past four years contributed as much as many other grassroots organizations to the hopeful outcome of this last election. Much remains to be done, as he reminds us often, and he’s committed to continuing the newsletter going forward. He now has a dedicated readership of more than 17,000.

He analyzes and critiques a wide range of government players, and shares quotes from and links to many of his resources, such as this from yesterday’s newsletter: “Why we need a Commission on Democracy, and what it could do.” He writes with a level perspective and a compelling blend of clarity, urgency, tenderness and irony, often making me laugh out loud. He also gives praise where praise is due. Here’s an excerpt from Today’s Edition (No. 1,052) “Out damned spot!”

“A reader sent a link to an article about a former member of the Department of Justice, Erica Newland. See NYTimes, “I’m Haunted by What I Did as a Lawyer in the Trump Justice Department.” Ms. Newland’s op-ed is worth reading in its entirety; the excerpt below does not do justice to her thoughtful discussion. But the following paragraph struck a chord with me:   No matter our intentions, we were complicit. We collectively perpetuated an anti-democratic leader by conforming to his assault on reality…. No matter how much any one of us pushed back from within, we did so as members of a professional class of government lawyers who enabled an assault on our democracy — an assault that nearly ended it.   ….Ms. Newland quit the DOJ early in Trump’s tenure. She acknowledges that some of those who remained behind resisted Trump; indeed, they revolted when Bill Barr ordered them to look for election fraud immediately after November 3, 2020. ….As we reckon the damage of Trump’s presidency, we must consider how we can ensure that the “professional class of government lawyers” have a firmer grasp of—and deeper loyalty to—the rule of law. Law schools, bar associations, and professional organizations must play a role. If lawyers who enabled Trump leave government and are welcomed with open arms by law schools, bar associations, and professional organizations, we will have learned nothing. I applaud Ms. Newland for having the self-awareness to recognize her complicated legacy in the Trump administration. Others should be held to the same standard of accountability to which Ms. Newland holds herself.”

So Robert Hubbell’s Today’s Edition is where I begin gratitude practice today, followed by Neighbor Mary’s holiday tradition of sharing Potica, a nut-roll cake that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Neighbor Fred’s family recipe for Potica (pronounced poteetza)