I’d Like to Thank . . .

. . . my producer, my director, everyone in the cast and crew. 

Who hasn’t, at some point in their lives, practiced their Oscar acceptance speech?  Or maybe yours was a Grammy or a Tony or an Emmy. This seems to be a fairly common undertaking, almost a rite of passage for many. We see people receiving great acclaim and being celebrated, and then we daydream about having that experience. We roleplay. We practice it.  

Humans like to win. We like to be celebrated. We seem to be hardwired for desiring acknowledgment and recognition and appreciation. We are primed and ready to accept our award. 

But most of the time when we use the word “acceptance,” it is not followed by the word “speech,” and it is not thought of as an opportunity for celebration.

We most often talk about acceptance as the reluctant agreement to acknowledge aspects of our life we don’t consider desirable.  Learning to accept our situation, whatever it may be, is often seen as a type of emotional maturity. Acceptance is the final step in the five stages of grief as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. It is the first step in the Serenity Prayer — God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. In other words, acceptance is what we do once we’ve tried everything else. We realize we’re facing a situation that we can’t avoid or alter, so then, and only then, we step into the practice of acceptance. 

What if we treated the acceptance of life-as-it-is in a similar way to how we might accept that Oscar?  

If I was an Oscar nominee sitting in the audience and my name was called as the winner, I would stand up and walk on stage.  That is, in essence, a “yes.” You want to give me an award? Yes, I will accept it. The word “yes” has a transformative power. What if in the process of learning to accept something more unpleasant, we found a way to put “yes” in somewhere. 

“Yes, I am experiencing this situation.” 

Even before we have passed judgment or determined outcomes or engaged in any analysis, we can acknowledge with a “yes,” and that “yes” can signal to the brain and the body and the spirit to prepare for that which is good and positive and “yes.” 

After I walked on stage to receive my Oscar, I would deliver a speech.  This speech could be crafted in many different ways, but almost always its main ingredient would be gratitude.  When life hands me a challenge rather than a trophy, gratitude becomes even more necessary.

“Yes, I am experiencing this situation. I’m so grateful for every resource, friend, and belief I have to help me through.” 

In the moment of struggle, what we’re experiencing might not feel like a gift or an award, but the act of acceptance can have the same vibration in either situation. Accepting my present moment exactly as it is can be an act of gratitude and a moment of “yes.” 

Peace Be Unto You

There is a Muslim woman on the
walking trail this morning. 
I spot her in the distance,
coming my direction, her

black from head to toe. I
look forward to the chance
for kindness, anticipating a 
warm “good morning,” a smile.

And dare I be so bold as to offer 
“As-salamu alaykum”? Or would
I be appropriating culture to weave
my own humble-brag cloak

of magnanimity? Maybe just “hello.” 
As she gets closer, I begin to calculate
the odds of us meeting on this trail
today.  A trail in a small southern 

town. A town that only desegregated
its high schools in 1970. A town where
one can still see the old slave quarters, and
plantation houses are still occupied. A town 

Trumpier than Trump himself. And here, 
on this walking trail, comes this woman,
bravely hijabbed, shoulders back, not 
curved with the fear that I seem to feel

so often these days, striding with purpose
along a path in a town perhaps far, far
away from her homeland. When we get closer, 
I become sure of this. We smile and say hello.

She makes a comment about my dog,
a friendly comment. A friendly accented
comment.  Pakistani? Afghan? My ear
is not good enough to discern. But not

American. Not USian. Not Southern. 
Her warm rounded vowels, the soft r’s, 
the hard t’s like d’s. I hear almost 
Indian. Pakistani, I feel certain. I have

friends who are Pakistani, and I wonder
how lame it will sound to tell her so, so I
don’t.  I just smile as warmly as I know how.
I try to create a smile that says, “I’m really

glad you’re here. No, really. I’m not just 
saying that. I welcome you, and I honor you,
and I will stand up for your right to be here.”
But the smile is just a smile, and its

sincerity is enough, I suppose. I tell her to
have a nice day, and I hope that I’m not 
the only one who ever tells her that here in
this confederate backwater, but I fear

I could be. And after we pass, I realize that
she handled our encounter with so much
more grace than I. I walk about 50 yards
and turn around to see the woman in

black walking away, shoulders back,
with purpose. And then I think about how
I’m too afraid to even put a Biden sign
in my front yard, and I realize that her smile

was saying to me, “Darlin’, if I belong here,
so do you. You don’t have to hide.” And my
liberal, socialist-democrat, progressive,
lesbian self says out loud, right there on that

path, in the heart of Dixie,
“Wa-Alaykum Salaam.”   

© 2020 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved

Party of One, Your Table’s Ready

(Photo: Members of Nashville in Harmony, an LGBT and Friends City Chorus, lead marchers in Nashville,TN, for the Women’s March on Washington, 01/21/2017.  This picture was on the front page of The Tennessean and also in The New York Times.)

So, yesterday there was this little march.  You might have heard about it.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 bejillion women (and men) around the globe came together to stand for equality and diversity.  It was a beautiful thing.

I think it’s fair to say that most of the people who attended these marches were liberal and likely vote Democrat.  But, I know more than one Republican friend who was also in attendance, marching proudly, passionately convicted about women’s rights and the rights of all others as well.   What courage it must take in our current social climate to march in the midst of those with whom you politically disagree, but with whom you share a basic alignment of principles and core values.  (Side note: If you believe that it’s impossible for Republicans to care about Civil Rights or Women’s Rights or even LGBT Rights, then you might just be living in as solid a news silo as you likely accuse the “other side” of living in.)

I attend a church where a significant majority of congregants vote Democrat.  But, there are some Republicans in our midst.  These are people I respect and with whom I feel a strong spiritual kinship.  They are my tribe.

I’ve watched them sit quietly as statements are made from that place of assumption.  You know that place, the one where we believe that everyone who shares one similarity with us will also align with everything else we believe. It’s the place where white people feel empowered to tell a racist joke in front of other white people.  It’s the place where a co-worker tells a gay joke because surely they don’t know any of those people.  And it’s the place where Democrats and/or Republicans speak out regarding political issues with unbridled confidence and, often, smugness.  Because they assume ideological homogeneity, their tone naturally becomes self-righteous; unfortunately, what sounds like certainty to those who agree takes on the stench of pomposity to those who don’t.

These microaggressions happen constantly.  We’ve all engaged in them at some point or another, most of the time unknowingly.  It may not be a true sin of commission, but it’s not helping.  We have to at least admit, it’s not helping.

Perhaps you say, “Well, tough shit.  That’s the way of the world.”  Or perhaps you say, “I can’t tip-toe around on egg shells being constantly concerned about hurting someone’s feelings.”

Well, to the first, I say: We are the way of the world.  To the second, I say: You don’t have to if you stay focused on the principles and not the politics.

If we keep our eyes on the love and the equality and the justice, then following closely on their heels is the mercy and the forgiveness and the healing.  If we remain focused on the bigger picture, we can stop examining the other side’s every twitch and tic under a microscope of judgment.

And if we can do this, we’ll create a new kind of politics.  Politicians will begin to learn that it no longer works to divide us and to train us to demonize the other side.  Their tricks simply won’t work on us anymore, and we might just drain that big ole’ swamp after all.

But, let’s still march now and then, ’cause, you know, that was fun.