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First Things, February 2017

January 27, 2017

The political events of the last several weeks have been so chaotic that I continue to feel anxious. I know many of you feel the same way.

Politically, it’s important that we respond directly and forcefully to bad legislation and harmful executive orders. Border walls, deportations and bans, torture, repeal of healthcare, loss of environmental protections, and so many others, demand our attention and opposition.

But I can’t spend the next four years feeling anxious. It wouldn’t be healthy for any of us to live that way.

One spiritual practice I’ve recently adopted is what I call “the long view.” I remember that life is greater than today’s ridiculous tweet from the President. As Theodore Parker reminded us, “the arc of the moral universe is long…”

To remind myself of “the long view”, I try now and then to physically look as far away as I can. What’s the most distant thing I can see? All the way down the street. Over the tops of the buildings. Sometimes, in Los Angeles, we can see for miles.

Usually what I see is some piece of nature: a snow-capped mountain, the ocean, the tops of trees. Our human concerns are usually up close: this issue right in front of me, this news story on my facebook feed. Looking far away reminds me that the world is so much bigger, and so much of it is untroubled with politics. And then a part of me feels less troubled, too, and a little of my anxiety lifts

Spirituality shouldn’t be an escape from political realities. But healthy spirituality is essential to a powerful engagement with political reality.

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