I went to the courthouse yesterday and filled out some boxes on a computer device. I knew this was an important task, but there was no sense of completion for me as I walked out of the courthouse.
Later in the day, I was at the recycling center, and noticed several shot-up paper human-gun-targets in the paper recycling. There was something about the tiny paper tabs hanging from where the heart of the human would be located (and the highest value was labelled) that really reminded me of voting in a haunting way.
I started to think about how the trickster-teacher Carolyn Casey states that we vote for reality with our imaginations. Is shooting at the likeness of a human, voting for the scenario of shooting a human? I realized that the collapsing of what voting means to election day box-checking is not being responsible. What is it that I am voting for with my imagination on a daily basis and why am I voting for these things?
I realize how much, of what my imagination wants to vote for, gets shut down by fear. Almost all the fears that have driven this election cycle are still hungry even after the votes have been counted and the winners declared.
The Anishinaabe know of a cannibal winter creature/spirit called Wendigo. Wendigo’s immense hunger is only increased by eating and his emaciated thin grey skin just becomes more tightly stretched over his bones. It is in many ways a similar creature to the zombie that keeps surfacing in current culture. This is the hunger that is never satiated.
The United States has just consumed a last supper of cannibalistic fear during the lengthy ceremony we call elections. It was the anti-sacrament. What “rough beast, its hour come round at last” have we just drank the blood of? (Yeat’s The Second Coming) There is no way for this cup to be taken from us.
It doesn’t matter what ‘side’ you were on. You can ask: “Who are these people who voted for this person?” They are your neighbors. You might as well admit that you are terrified of them. But here we are… all sitting at the same table. So, now that we are here, bloated with fear and hungrier than ever, what do we do?
Prepare for the putrefactio (decomposition). We must digest all of this shadow that we have consumed. The last supper is not followed by being ‘born again’ or having ‘great again.’ That dark-skinned prophet from what is now called the Middle East is often misquoted as having said something about being born again. What he actually said is more akin to “be born from the beginning.” He was not handing out avoid-all-responsibility passes. He was asking for us to be deeply responsible for all of life.
As we enter the winter, as we enter the nigredo, may we vote with our imaginations to digest all of the shadow we have consumed. May we vote to look clearly, without glancing away, at how is it is we got to be here. May we deeply honor all that has given life so that we may have life. This is the skill of grief. This is the skill of walking with deep responsibility. And may our imaginations create wild spaces, with vulture-filled trees, where beings and ways of being may go to feed that which follows in this amazing caravan.