the empty seat at your table


It’s astonishing that people are actually coming out of their faces to say that voters didn’t intend to cause harm or to condone violence when they elected a demagogue.

Please tell me what multiverse are you living in?

That man’s racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-disabled, anti-poor, anti-everybody-who-has-a-heart-for-what-is-just-and-equitable rants were not whispered behind closed doors and later leaked into the public sphere after folks were good-and-bamboozled by his charisma and hope-filled messages.

He was loud, boisterous and unapologetic about his oppressive views. He attracted and continues to be endorsed, lauded, now flaunted and paraded by white supremacists with confederate flags, swastikas, and full KKK regalia.

The hate and violence that fueled the campaign has escalated since Tuesday.

His “win” has become a “license to lynch” — with numerous accounts of children, women, LGBTQ persons being physically attacked, taunted, harassed and threatened.

(I will not link those articles here. Instead, I encourage you to take good care of your mental/emotional well-being with your consumption of these images and stories. You can be informed without overexposing yourself to the toxicity).

The terror is real. The breech of trust is real. It is happening in your neighborhoods and schools and was, in fact, sanctioned by decent, well-intentioned folk who just wanted to “Make America Great Again”…nevermind the true cost.

I’m intelligent enough to get it. I’m committed to skillful understanding and have the capacity to see through my outrage and fear to look into theirs.

I know they felt seen, heard, and understood for the first time by, unfortunately, a “pulls-no-punches,” plain (and vulgar) language-talking reality-tv tycoon who, unlike the career politicians we’re accustomed to, doesn’t fit neatly into the shiny 4-cornered presidential candidate box.

Yes, our system is broken. Yes, it often feels like two steps forward, 10 back.

But you can’t set my house on fire just because you think it’s a raggedy eyesore blocking your view, then say “whoopsie!” when you realize I was still inside.

(By the way, the flames are raging because you keep adding more accelerant.)

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
–Matthew 16:26 NIV

Now here comes the cultural gaslighting — from the passive-aggressive (“We’ve survived 44 other presidents. It’s not the end of the world.”) to the outright manipulative dismissals and trivializations (“You’re exaggerating. It’s not that bad.”). In. The. Face. Of. Facts!

Beyond the undeniable evidence of these egregious acts of violence, there remain personal truths. And, I refuse to let you tell me what my experience is or should be.

Own your actions. Own the consequences of your vote.

If you voted for hate, just look me in the eye and say: Fuck you, Tara, and every breath that you take! so I know where we stand.

Understand that with your vote, you were willing to risk not just relationships with people you know and love, but to also risk the safety and very basic human rights to millions of people who, like you, simply want to live.

You cannot be surprised or offended that relationships have been lost or compromised.

You wanted more for yourself? You got it!
Look across the table to the empty seat.
Feast on what remains when your friends, neighbors, and family decline your invitation to break bread. They deserve to protect themselves from being exposed to the consequences of your self-interest.

And if you’re in any way moved by their absence, it’s time to examine your discomfort.
If not, well, then enjoy the extra elbow room.

He who argues for his limitations
gets to keep them.
— Richard Bach

suprised? curious? confused?

why the stakes are high for me

10 Tips for Christians Supporting Trump

more on gaslighting

6 Unhelpful Comments That Gaslight People in Conversations About Social Justice

On Women’s Rights: Yeah, Yeah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Whatever

Gaslighting Is a Common Abuse Tactic

The GOP front-runner is Gaslighting Us

show me ya ballot: the devil you know

It’s been a long, hard day and I’m grateful to have had the container of a Health Equity + Social Justice Workshop to process my outrage, grief, fear and — most surprising to me — an arising MISTRUST!

And I respect my feelings and my mental/spiritual well-being enough to be honest and vocal about the fact that I cannot welcome hope, acceptance, or understanding right now.

I’ve conjured calm, and only calm, in this moment. But it is not peace. Nor am I rushing to get through to the other side of these emotions.

My safety and freedom and that of those I love, who live in the crosshairs of existing with “target group” identities (people of color, immigrants, non-Christian, disabled, gender non-conforming, LGBTQ+, working class, among other marginalized intersections), has been compromised!

That we’ve always been vulnerable is not new. And that, by far, is the scariest: As much as we hope, rally, advocate, model, and assume positions that impact change, we remain vulnerable and targeted. The confederate flags come out in my native #LoveLansing community and around the country in a display that feels too close to reconstructionist era pogroms.

So, yeah, I wanna see er-body’s receipts — those who voted for hate and those who still operate under apathy and deception that their vote doesn’t count. ‘Cause right now, I’m finding it difficult to imagine consciously fostering or continuing relationships with anyone who would act so recklessly to conspire with hate and white supremacy.

Like the Negro Motorist Green Book did for the Jim Crow/Civil Rights generations, I wanna know the local and national businesses that are celebrating this misbegotten “victory” so that I can ensure my resources never reach their coffers.

In Buddhist practice we say congratulations
because now is the time we have been practicing for. 

No more just practicing the dance.
We must now dance.
And this is not a dress rehearsal.

~ Zenju

Read more responses from Buddhist teachers on Lion’s Roar.