Be a Mighty Mender

I am writing this on Tuesday. It is a big election day in the U.S., after many exhausting and often horrifying undignified campaigns. I am writing this not knowing the outcome of the various races and propositions that so many care so passionately about.

This is not a political post. Politics divide. Divisions kill.

This is a post about being a mighty mender, a vulnerable bridge builder, a world-view translator. This is a call to live in the field beyond right doing and wrong doing that Rumi described, and to bring people with you.

Because that is where we need to live right now. And because what we need is to be talking to each other. Every time we shut someone out or down with our opinions and yes, even our facts, we fray and fracture our greatest hope for a sustainable future: the ability to work together.

If we don’t learn to talk to each other, if we don’t stop blaming each other, we are doomed. Do not underestimate this truth.

It starts with you and me. Nobody else is coming to do this work for us. There are no experts to follow. It’s just us, looking at the ways we isolate and convince ourselves we know best, and finding ways to be with those that we don’t understand, that we belittle, that we disparage, and by doing so, opening to meeting each other out beyond right doing and wrong doing, where real change will happen.

Here are a few thoughts on getting the mended going:

  • Do not support or participate in any bashing or polarizing, even in your own mind. This is much, much harder than it sounds. Every time we reinforce our own world view, we miss opportunities to mend.
  • Do not proselytize, even to your friends. Use that energy to zip your lips and listen to “the other” or to take quiet sustained action on what you care about. Now that is a bit harder than just talking, isn’t it? We don’t need any more hot air in the world (could global warming be exacerbated by pontificating? Hmmm…)
  • Look for the wisdom in the other. It is so comforting to stay attached to what we know. But what if the “other” had something to teach you? Can you entertain this idea when you read a profile of someone you loath or sit down to dinner with your uncle Henry at Thanksgiving?
  • Do not overwhelm others who disagree with you with your brilliance. It feels good to preach but it only creates one more person who feels shut out and thus will be less open to learning about what you hold dear. Instead, be a loving lighthearted teacher, an ambassador, for what you care about.
  • Bless everyone. John ODonohue writes in To Bless the Space Between Us, “I believe each of us can bless. When a blessing is invoked, it changes the atmosphere. Some of the plentitude flows into our hearts from the invisible neighborhood of loving kindness. In the light and reverence of blessing, a person or situation becomes illuminated in a completely new way.
  • Speaking of loving kindness, do metta for the people you deem insufferable. Here is a simple metta how-to.
  • Give up thinking you know what is best or how things will turn out. You don’t. I don’t. Nobody does. Take action on what you care about, then put your feet up and watch a funny movie. I loved Pitch Perfect.

Your work, should you choose to accept it, is to be a mighty mender, to bring us together in the field beyond right-doing and wrong-doing. It’s vital work, perhaps the most vital of our time. Thank you for accepting the invitation.

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  • Julie Daley

    Briliant, Jen. Love this one… “We don’t need any more hot air in the world (could global warming be exacerbated by pontificating? Hmmm…)”

  • sarahrobinson


  • Ruth

    thanks Jen– excellent post — I think we could have used this in the last month or so. right now I feel that I do not belong anywhere anymore .. will need to work through this — thanks dearie

  • Kelly Salasin

    Really, no proselytizing? That’s what I do best.

    But my heart was there too, when I wrote this yesterday afternoon:

    • Kelly Salasin

      ps. I unplugged yesterday too and watched Magic Mike (eeks) and then went to teach YogaDance; so much better than watching polls

      • Kelly Salasin

        pps. when i go to share this post on FB, it only shows the url, no text, no image ???

  • Bob McCready

    You are my hero baby. I love you.

  • StaciBoden

    Several of our family members voted completely differently than us. Thank you for this reminder of how we can move through our differences to connect.

  • Kim Manley Ort

    It’s so hard. Thanks for giving us ideas as to how to go about this. I loved this – “Give up thinking you know what is best or how things will turn out.” That has turned out to be true more times than I can count.

  • Marianne Elliott

    Amen soul sister. You put it so beautifully and simply and remind us that we can actually do this, that we will do this, and it will make a difference.

    I’m the only person in my family who votes ‘left’, so I’ve had lots of practice at making an effort to understand and respect why people I love and respect see our political landscape so differently to how I see it.

    And on the topic of understanding each other, I can’t stop recommending ‘Deer Hunting With Jesus’ by Joe Bageant (may he rest in peace). And his subsequent book, ‘Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir’ – he does a great job of helping liberal Americans see how and why poor white Americans choose Republican. You don’t have to agree with him, but he’s worth reading if you are interested in understanding.

    • Kristin Noelle

      Wow, those books sound wonderful, Marianne. Thanks for the leads!

  • Kristin Noelle

    Love this, Jen. Thank you for it.

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  • Charlaine

    Jen, thank you. It has been so challenging to read the vitriol on Facebook and elsewhere about Obama’s win last night, particularly when it came from members of my family. I will print and post this as a reminder to myself. So much wisdom here, a path toward a more harmonious life. Thank you, thank you.

    • jenlouden

      you are so welcome!!

  • Michelle Kipka Harris


  • Theresa

    This is a message we all need to hear today. Thank you!

  • Hali Karla

    love this very much. thank you.

  • Liesl Garner

    This is so beautiful and so very needed right now. Like a Benediction. Like a Gentle Rain. Like tears that need to fall. Like Spring. Thank you!

    • jenlouden

      thank you so much Lisesl!

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  • Bobbye Middendorf

    Thank you, Jen, for the beauty of your expression and the high, purposeful intent. Many are being called into our own version of South Africa’s “Peace and Reconciliation,” although we are doing it quietly, individually, and ad hoc. My contribution to this conversation is my first public video, inspired by your heart-felt videos that have moved me over the years.

    • jenlouden

      i loved your video! so loving and calming, thank you!