Syntesis: Nevelle Longbottom and Mitt Romney

To Kill A Mockingbird book cover

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” ~ Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

So, I was fixing breakfast thinking about what I was going to write for this post and two seemingly disparate bits of information collided in my head.

I’m not a domestic goddess as you may know from previous posts. But sometimes doing menial tasks frees up my mind to wander and today that paid off. As I was cooking the eggs, I was thinking about Mitt Romney’s bravery and Nevelle Longbottom came into my head.

Do you remember in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, at the end when Dumbledore is awarding the house cup? He hands out some last minute points to Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Then he says, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” And he awards Nevelle enough points to give the cup to Gryffindor. That’s when what Nevelle did in the book/movie and Mitt did at the Senate Impeachment trial synthesized in my head.

Mitt Romney stood up to his party. I don’t know if he considers them friends. He even said in his speech that he expected to be vilified for taking the position he did. But here’s the thing. The President and many in his party may berate him and call him nasty names, but there are plenty of people, Democrats, people in the media, and many ordinary people like me, who were moved by his courage. He stood up for what he thought was right. He honored his oath even though I’m sure he endured great pressure to abandon it.

My sister, Celeste, said. “I see hope for the Republican Party and for the rest of us. He showed a willingness to set aside politics as usual and vote his conscience.” He gives me hope too.

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about why we fold under pressure and don’t stand up for what’s right. I’ve done it upon occasion and it makes me feel so bad about myself when I do it. I’m sure Romney was frightened about the brouhaha he was going to cause, but he stood by his oath anyway.

When we show courage, we often get support in unexpected ways. I haven’t seen it but the two most liberal women on The View Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, praised Romney. They were willing to say that even though they have not always agreed with him, what he did made him a hero in their eyes. Yeah! We can use real heroes right now because heroes not only give us hope, they help to stimulate courage in those around them.

So, while I feel inspired by fictional heroes, it’s much more heartening to witness a real life person exhibiting great courage. Thank you, Senator Mitt Romney!

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Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered and she must find a way to put it back together. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

On Empathy and Courage

Welcoming Jean
Welcoming Jean

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” – Lao Tzu

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee

“When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” – Stephen Covey

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin

I had a very different blog post in mind for today, but in light of all that’s going on around the world, I have to return to an idea I write upon often in my posts. That is: that the only way to heal the world is by healing ourselves first.

With the riots going on in Baltimore, the terrorist threats around the world, the battle over rights for the poor, gays, and women we’re living in the middle of a war zone. Our instinct is to wall ourselves off, attack before being attacked and blame people and societal forces for all the bad things that happen to us personally and out in the world. The answer to solving our problems, however, is to do the opposite of what we’ve always done. We must learn to be empathetic.

Perhaps I’m an advocate for using empathy as a healing tool because I’m an empath. I was born that way so I can’t help it. But I’m with Neil deGrasse Tyson, empathy can be taught. You don’t have to be born that way. He advocates teaching empathy as part of our school curriculum. It’s the only way we’ll change the world for the better. For those of us who are adults, we’ve got to teach ourselves how to climb inside another person’s skin and walk around in it for awhile. Choosing to be empathetic takes courage.

My first reaction to the riots in Baltimore when I heard about them, was to condemn the rioters. But then I reminded myself to step back and try to understand why they feel so much rage. I could condemn anyone who turns to violence rather than looking for common ground to solve the issues but like my Dad used to say, “People who lash out at others are in so much pain they think that attacking others will help them get rid of it.” The thing is, that never works. I know because I’ve attacked people thinking the attack was deserved and that I’d feel better afterwards but I always felt worse.

There’s a great quote from the movie Ben-Hur that illustrates why violence never works. (I love picking up little gems of wisdom from movies and books.) Esther, the woman Ben Hur loves, says to him, “I know there is a law in life, that blood gets more blood as dog begets dog. Death generates death, as the vulture breeds the vulture!” We know that violence begets more violence, but for some reason we don’t stop ourselves. We attack others in big and small ways insanely thinking that we’ll get rid of our rage, that people will listen, that things will change for the better. The only way things will get better is if we feel empathy for others, forgive and stop attacking.

Healing is about forgiving ourselves and everyone we think injured us. Forgiveness is letting go of blaming and needing apologies. Forgiveness is about seeing the light of God in another person even if they can’t see it in themselves. We have to allow ourselves to understand that every human being longs for complete love and understanding just like we do. The best way to get that love and understanding is to give it away to others then it will come back to us.

I know it takes courage to go against the majority way of thinking. I know it’s scary to show empathy to a person who is in a great deal of pain and who might lash out. But the alternative is for violence to escalate. I’m tired of that, aren’t you? We’re at a turning point and only you can decide what you’ll do.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Leaving the Past in the Past

December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains
December 2, 2014 sunrise over the San Jose Mountains

“Times of transition are strenuous, but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” –Kristin Armstrong

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” –Aristotle

“If you want to reach out for something new, you must first let go of what’s in your hand.” –Sonia Choquette

I’m in a period of transition. Last month my husband and I made the last payment to our credit card debt, I’m turning 62 this year and the publication date for my first novel is fast approaching. My life is changing in a big way, which I love. Yet, it’s strange to have this new life stretching out in front of me. I don’t know what to expect and that’s at once liberating and daunting. How do I allow new things to come into my life without assuming that my future will be very much like my past?

Part of what prompted this post is the fact that I picked up A Course In Miracles again and was reminded that the past isn’t real. What happened to me in the past is gone and will never occur again. Yet, sometimes I allow it to continue to affect me in a big way. There have been times when I’ve assumed that life will continue on much as it has gone before. A Course in Miracles points out that our minds are powerful creators, and sometimes we recreate what has happened in the past over and over again. But it needn’t be that way. It’s kind of paradoxical that we can learn from what happened to us in the past, but our present and subsequent future is a blank. We can create it any way we want. It’s all in the way we “think” about what is to come.

In the past, when I was on the threshold of a new life, I wanted a new fresh start, but leaving old attitudes and expectations behind was really difficult. First of all I had a hard time imagining how I would feel living my new life. Second, My little ego thought it knew what was best for me and so tried to be the guide. Third, I didn’t trust that I could really let go and let God fashion a new life for me. I was afraid. This time I want things to be different.

As we grow we are taught by our parents and society that we can be anything we want to be if we’re lucky, or that we’re worthless if we’re not. Many of the things we’ve learned hold us back. They clog up our mind and we keep repeating patterns from our past that don’t serve us. We don’t love ourselves enough to allow in all the great things that the Divine wants to give us. Our ego defeats us. This has been my lifelong struggle between being of service to fulfill my purpose, and to be hampered by wanting to be in control of my own life. Maybe you too have experienced this struggle. Over the years as I’ve studied, prayed and worked at letting go of my past, I’ve made some progress in understanding my place in the world.

What I’ve learned is that we are connected to each other and the Source of All that is. We’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, something bigger than we can imagine. Our ego doesn’t see this connection and wants to be in control of directing our choices so we can end up with all the toys. That gets us into trouble.

When we let go of trying to control every little thing that happens to us, and allow our Source to be in charge, there is a joyful bond to our purpose. We know we’re in partnership with our Source when fear leaves us and we feel the ecstasy that comes from co-creating with Her.

Letting go of the past, releasing the old beliefs that no longer serve us and realizing that our ego does not have our best interests at heart is a deeply personal, internal journey. It’s something that we chip away at a little at a time. I believe it takes courage to grow. However, I’m happy to say that for me, it has been worth it. I’m committed to letting the past go and becoming a partner with the Divine so I can fulfill my place in whatever the bigger plan for our world might be.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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Fear and Decisions

Fear“Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” –Pema Chodron

“Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Fear is a liar. It whispers in our ear that if we control that person, circumstance or situation, we’ll feel better. But fear lives inside not outside of us. So when your attempts to control outside events fail, it grows into a monster threatening to eat us alive. It cripples all aspects of our life, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, unless its faced. I know this from personal experience.

There have been times in my life when I made a choice based on fear’s advice. One instance was when, as a new college graduate, I took a job I knew in the pit of my stomach was not the right situation for me. Fear said, “Take the job. You might not get another offer. You need the money.” Foolishly I listened and for two years I worked for a toxic company. It was only when I nearly had a nervous breakdown, as we used to call them, that I woke up and faced my fear. Leaving that supposedly secure position was one of the best decisions of my life.

Elections are a prime time for politicians and commentators to spew fear. Natural disasters, war, or health threats are other times when fear whispers to those vulnerable to its call. Right now we’re in a vortex of events where, in my mind, Fear is rejoicing that there are so many people to feed upon. That’s a metaphor I chose on purpose. Fear feeds upon us.

I want to make it clear, we ALL feel fear from time-to-time. We can’t escape that fact. However, we can reduce or eliminate it with practice.

This is what I’ve learned in my process of facing fear. Its not strong. We think of fear as all powerful. Maybe because of the powerful emotions it evokes. But fear can’t stand up to scrutiny. When I’ve allowed myself to face my fear fully, then look beyond it to the myriad possibilities that fear is trying to hide from me, it dissolves. Not all at once, but the more I turn away from my fear, the more it shrinks.

There have been a number of times in my life when I know my family, and even some of my friends did not understand the choices I made. They thought I was crazy. Quitting my teaching job to become a writer, selling my house to fund a trip around the world, quitting that first job that was so toxic to get my Master’s in theatre. Oh, I’m sure many of my family members still shake their heads at the choices I’ve made.

But the thing is, it’s the people who look fear in the face that we admire. I admire Gabby Giffords, who was my Congresswoman, and now advocates for stricter gun regulations. Malala Yousafzai who promotes education for girls all over the world. The fearful tried to silence them by shooting them, but when they didn’t die, those two women became more powerful than ever before.

There are so many other people who’s names we don’t know, who are facing fear every day and winning. They are becoming powerful and doing great and creative things that contribute to all of humanity. We need them all if we’re going to create a new way to live that is more loving, more sustainable, more joyful.

We can’t control events outside ourselves. All we can control is our response to what happens to us. We can control our response to fear. Remember that when you go into the voting booth in a few weeks, or choose what to watch on TV or which pundits to listen too. Are they spreading fear, or hope?

It’s my prediction that the tide will turn away from fear. That we’ll take responsibility for embracing hope and love instead. That we’ll accept that life is unpredictable which makes living exciting. There can be a bright future ahead of us, if we choose it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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