Dealing with Elections – Dealing with Fear
In the past weeks the debates and preparations for the elections have been pushing Danish politics into my attention. I have, to be honest, not been too concerned with them for a while and am still not sure how to relate to them. (I might not be the only one here…)
Sometimes it seems like a relief not to live in my home country, because it gives a sensation of distance and with that some sort of freedom of taking a position in many of the conversations. Also due to lack of cultural understanding in some ways. Especially on subjects where there doesn’t seem to be a solution anywhere near.
However these weeks suddenly also showed the other side – not being able to make a point, set an x. It is not true that I didn’t have influence, because I could talk to my friends and I think some might have taken the occasion to think about their choice and even decide to vote instead of not going. Also I’m living in an area where the people voted in a way, that my individual x wouldn’t have made a bigger difference than my physical presence here does.
But how to deal with results of a whole country that first of all feel alarming?
I got, for the first time ever to such an extent, motivated to be awake about what is going on not only in the city I live in and the overall sensation I have, but follow more of the discourse and conditions in other areas. It is embarrassing and probably quite ignorant to say that I haven’t been concerned in the same way before. Or – I was concerned but I never really felt motivation to follow up on this. Mostly because it feels incredibly overwhelming and I have no answer, no easy and fast „thing to do“ to create a change, as is can be possible in my immediate surrounding.
Many people I know and agree with in our general political approach reacted extremely frustrated on Thursday and Friday, stating that they’re not danes but world-inhabitants now. And I could feel that same sensation… I think I said to my roommate in the morning – being dramatic – it’s no fun to wake up to this country today. I was coughing, having one of my long-gone-astmathic moments after dance in the cold night, which made it feel even more dramatic, meeting such an old reaction to something.
Later that morning I realized – I’m afraid. Part of this election simply scares me – already in the debates before the result the communication-culture and way to talk about foreigners was scary. After the election I went through this: First I was afraid what this would mean in the future, would Denmark close it’s borders, will we not be allowed to use English (or other languages for that matter), no more studying in English at Danish universities? Then the more me-focused thoughts and fears appeared – did I take a wrong decision coming here, should I have done a more thorough political whole-country-research before this decision? Was it a mistake to say – ok I’ll stay here for the next two years and focus on the friendly, welcoming and warm experiences I have made personally? I feel like I just arrived – should this mean that I will soon leave again?
I can notice this as an automatic reaction to intensity with myself – the thought that I have to go somewhere else. This is more or less how my thoughts fire up: First reaction – I have to leave this place. I don’t know where to go. Insecurity whether it is ever possible to change this world and get people to be less scared of each other. Noticing that I’m scared of the effects of people’s fear of strangers and change. That I’m scared of people who have a very different approach to life than I do. Realizing the irony. Not really happy about it and not finding a solution. But somehow at least being able to let go of the dramatic sensation and instead using the fear to be more awake and aware.
Using the weekend to talk to people who vote for the blue parties, asking them about the results and their thoughts. Telling them mine. Hearing their concerns. Noticing their fear and mine.
Now, after some days I’m thinking about – how can fear be dealt with in a less urgent/immediate way, when the danger isn’t an immediate one? I could really feel how this rush of fear/feelings would make me think and look for answers quickly – which in a case of a falling object to my head or an actual physical attack seems very healthy. But in a larger context like an election and the tendencies and atmosphere of a large group of people, it just creates a sensation of panic and thinking larger and with more time makes much more sense.
After the weekend, when it is clear that the creating the next government isn’t as easy as was feared, I’m already more quiet. Sure – nothing is solved, but it just makes so clear that the dynamics in question don’t have the same tempo as my everyday-life decisions.
Again – this feels so obvious and slightly embarrassing to mention – but in the moment of frustration over an unexpected and unhoped for outcome, the feelings were as if there has to be this kind of fast and immediate reaction.
I guess I can see the tendency – if there is no fast change and reaction, then it is frustrating to pay attention or to believe that anything is actually happening. And this could earlier have been a reason for me to stop following the bigger picture and instead focus on the individual people in my immediate vicinity.
But this is part of the challenge – to keep the fire and energy that comes from the immediate reaction and frustration alive in a way that it gives energy to a long-lasting approach. Not to burn out but to stay warm. To keep the larger context in the back of my head, even when I’m working with an individual – to notice my longterm and larger context intention.
With every individual i teach, I want to give them tools for their individual challenge and approach. Like I use them in my life. I just see how much freedom it gives me and when I manage to stop my automatic fight or flight response to something like a nationalist party doubling their seats in the folketinget, I actually manage to listen to people who support this party and hear what it is they support. To hear that they might support other aspects of the party than what I despise. To hear what their need and their fear is, that lies behind this support – their sensation to lack an alternative. And honestly, the socialists and more center conservatives really haven’t been offering a pleasant communication about how to deal with humans (both each other or refugees). In some ways they shocked me personally the most.
I want to use this to be awake and think – how can those needs be supported? In which way can and do I want to do something?
It might not come as a surprise, that my conclusions so far are, that it is relevant to learn about fear. About being able to deal with uncertainty and conflict without falling into immediate reactions of blaming or running away, but instead empowering the people. I think we need a debate that includes focus on the promotion of confidence, actual sensations of self worth and power. The ability to solve challenges – with or without help but certainly out of personal initiative and: dealing with frustration. Using frustration to open eyes, to create something powerful and change, rather than keeping the eyes on the frightening trigger and fearing possibilities of limitations.
Learning to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing what exactly to do yet, even though it is clear that something has to be done and there is a clear intention, a clear need to create change.
Dealing with that uncertainty and keeping energy and focus. Both on continuing life, continuing to enjoy as well as noticing the things that aren’t working.
Learning to notice and be able to contain both of these contradicting sensations, creating space for them to both be there and allow myself and the universe and time to present the next step. Learning to be well in ambiguity.
With out panicking where it’s not necessary. With energy. With time to play.
I noticed in these weeks two automatic habits: one is to question the legitimation of what I do in relation to the problems of the world and the other to think that I have to go and it will be better somewhere else.
After the elections are over, other subjects arrive through to me in media – like the shooting in Charleston and a van running into a crowd in Graz… Suddenly a civil election doesn’t seem to be so dramatic, however alarming it is.
But it again shows that there are issues on a larger level, that I want to keep in my attention. I have no idea yet, how that will look like practically. There is so much pain – it can be overwhelming, to keep the larger context because there is even more pain to notice and deal with. But I want to learn to open my chest, not get caught in running away and coughing.
I want to be able to dance, without loosing sight of where I do so. To be and deal with pain. To be and deal with fear. Courageously. And awake. Let’s see the „how“ unfold…
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