Mark Nepo | Post Election Thoughts 2017

I have felt compelled to speak since the election of Donald Trump but every time I try, my heart sinks and I don’t know what to say. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, six years after World War II, after the defeat of Hitler and fascism, six years after the Holocaust, in which I had family perish. As a child, I saw unfathomable images of how the Atomic bomb obliterated Hiroshima. In grade school, we practiced hiding under our desks, as if that would keep us from being incinerated. I came of age in the sixties, part of a hopeful generation who questioned the war in Vietnam. I later saw the Berlin wall come down, and witnessed the first African-American president sworn in on the steps of a White House built by slaves. During my lifetime, there has been a slow, steady awakening of community that has upheld America as the land of the free. Through all this, I have grown to understand that, different as we are in what we believe, there is no they. We are they.

Given this paradox inherent in freedom, I have tried to stay true to what I know while listening to the opposite views of others. But the underpinnings of this election fall below politics, below Democrat or Republican. Because half of us have elected a man whose way in the world is built on fear and hate, whose tolerance for difference is tissue paper thin, whose understanding of strength is based on vengeance.

Police violence at Standing Rock shows America still addicted to frontier justice. Image |

As I witness the level of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and unchannelled anger that is spilling out of us as a nation, I fear that Donald Trump has poked and stirred the darker angels of our nature. Now we are taking our turn, as civilizations before us, in the ever-present challenge to give in to fear or to empower each other to be brave enough to love, brave enough to discover and accept that we are each other.

For no matter where we come from, no matter how we got here, we all yearn to be seen, heard, and respected. We all long to belong and to be understood as whole and good. We all long to be needed. And all our gifts are needed to contribute to the tapestry of freedom.

So I am afraid today, afraid the noise of hate is drowning out the resilience of love that is always near. I fear that we are tripping into a dark age. If so, then, as medieval monks kept literacy alive during the dark ages in Europe, those of us committed to a life of care are challenged now to keep the literacy of the heart alive."

For all the things we care about, all the endeavors of respect that we treasure, all the humble ways of finding strength in our kindness—all our efforts of heart matter now more than ever. We are at a basic crossroads between deepening the decency in how we care for each other, and the contagion of making anything different from us the enemy. And, as history has shown us, if we don’t recognize ourselves in each other, all is lost.

We must remain open and steadfast in the face of fear and violence. We must never make a principle of what turns us dark. And we must keep voicing the truth of human decency, no matter the brutalities that try to quiet us. Without this commitment to care and truth, we will become as heartless as those now lost in anger.

Most of all, we must pick each other up when we are heavy with despair. For the sun doesn’t stop shining because some of us are blind. Nor will the grace of democracy vanish because some of us are violently afraid to be in the world."

Still, we are they. And the timeless choice between love and fear, individually and as a nation, is not a choice of policy. It is the choice of decency that keeps us human. In the face of this dark disturbance that is upon us, I implore each of us to be kind and truthful, to be a lantern in the dark, and to call out prejudice wherever we see it. In addition to whatever ways we each are called to gather, participate, legislate, or protest, I implore each of us to never stop watering the seeds of human decency.

I implore us to stay devoted to the proposition that when filled with love, we can work as angels here on earth, using our care-filled hands as wings. Never forget that we are more together than alone.


About the Author

Mark Nepo is the author of The One Life We’re Given, a Kosmos featured book for the Sacred Season from Atria Books. In the fall of 2016, Mark will have a new book of poetry, The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting from Sounds True. For more, or

The Election | What Are We Teaching Our Kids?

By Gloria Shepard, via her blog

Post-election, parents are wondering what the Election of Donald Trump will mean to our kids. Kids learn much more from how we are than what we say. Let's look at ourselves.

kidsAre you taking care of your feelings?
I want to be clear, taking care of feelings does not mean fighting, hiding, or ignoring them. It doesn't mean drinking wine or eating chocolate to get through them (I know, this is a hard truth!!). And it doesn't mean acting them out, posting rants on Facebook, calling anybody names, blaming people we disagree with, lecturing, boasting, or being self-righteous. Taking care of our feelings does mean slowing down to FEEL them. To allow them. To be with our vulnerable selves. For lots of us, this includes talking with a helpful friend, a counselor, a support group, or another trusted helper, because we can't always do it alone (and we don't need to!).

When we do this, we set an important example for our children. We show them that it is okay to have even big feelings. I am struck by the parallel between our experience of this election and our teens' experience of getting into college. 'This is not the end of the world,' we tell them when they don't get into their first choice college, 'it's going to be okay.' Let's set an example of how to handle deep upsets by showing up for ourselves (and each other) in a loving way.

a-blackwomanandchildAre you staying in the present?
Someone told me at about 7 am on November 9, 'I can't believe Donald Trump is president.' He isn't! We are still in November, and most of us don't even know what we're having for dinner, let alone what will be happening in January. Let's take things one step at a time. This is the time for feeling, not projecting ourselves into the future and the past, both of which are out of our control. Let's stay in this moment.

Staying present helps our kids know that it is possible to stay in a hard moment. If they get into a fight with a friend and imagine how they will have to sit alone for lunch and recess for the rest of the year because they won't have any friends, we can gently bring them back to this moment. 'Right now, it feels hard. Things may change, but let's stay with what we know is true.'

Is your speech loving?
Can we talk about a person's choices, actions, and words without characterizing that person in judging, unkind, or insulting ways? Because the way we speak about a person teaches our children much more about us than about the person! So let's be mindful of our speech. Let's not dehumanize a person, no matter what they say or do, instead let's speak directly about their choices.

This is important because our reactive and alarming speech is really scaring our kids. When a child hears a parent say, 'He is evil,' they are going to be scared about what this means for our country. When a child hears a parent say, 'He speaks about Muslim people in a way that is just not okay. What I know is that our country is not only for one religion, it is founded on tolerance for all religions and no religion,' they understand more clearly.

gloriashepard-smp030-rt-fb_1_origConnect with Gloria

Gloria Shepard is a lifelong educator, mom to older teens, and long-time mindfulness and meditation practitioner, Gloria Shepard has a practical, heart-centered approach to mindfulness and parenting education. Gloria has spent more than ten years integrating mindfulness with motherhood, emotional work, trauma release, and healing. She is a Mindful School certified instructor, with a Masters in Education, trained in emotional awareness, trauma- and stress-informed mindfulness support, inquiry, and self-acceptance. 

Theatre of Transformation

 In the  FALL | WINTER 2016 edition of Kosmos Journal

"These new paradigms aren’t imposed on us; they emerge through us. At last, we humans aren’t sidelined to the margins of history as spectators at best and victims at worst. Now, we’re called to its epicenter to assume our roles as authors, artists, actors, and co-creators of the world taking shape around and through us. The stage is set; the curtains are quivering.

At this juncture of dissolution and regenesis, we are invited to treat this global drama of destruction as a ‘Theatre of Transformation.’"

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img_9812The Kosmos Meditation Bracelet is our gift from the Earth to you. Each agate, a mineral of the Quartz family, is a blue world unto itself. Forming close to the Earth’s surface, usually in volcanic rock, agates have been used as amulets and ornamentation since Babylonian times. Agate’s slower vibration, compared to other stones was regarded as a stabilizing and strengthening influence. Its uses in healing spread through the ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations, Africa and the Middle East and into Russia.

img_9973Our Kosmos-blue bracelet contains one ‘gratitude’ crystal of pyrite. To the Incas and Aztecs, Pyrite’s magical properties included divination and defence against negative energies – ‘seeing behind facades to what is real’.

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As you quietly contemplate each utterly unique and beautiful blue bead, you slow down and join your vibrational energy with that of these stabilizing stones. Breathe one in-and-out breath as you count one bead. May this special gift of the Sacred Season remind you of your most vital connection – your relationship with the Earth. Mindfully sourced. Quantities limited.

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