While it is highly probable that most people in the mindfulness community did not vote for our President-Elect, it is also clear that many people in this nation did. Who are these people, and what is their connection to mindfulness?
At InStill, our vision is to instill mindfulness in every workplace and public institution in southwest Virginia. If you’re not already aware, southwest Virginia voted heavily for Trump. These people are our constituents.
It has been very easy for many to lump all the Trump voters together: racists or misogynists or ignorant or uneducated, for instance. Similarly, these same people are known by many as rednecks or hillbillies or trailer trash by those who really know nothing about them. Indeed, poor white rural people seem to be the one group of marginalized people in this country who are still fair game for derogatory stereotyping by those who should know better (including many in the mindfulness community).
There is no one type of person who voted for Trump, just as there is no unique reason so many people did so, but that condescending outlook by what many of his voters might term ‘elites’ has not gone unnoticed. In many ways, it appears from here in southwest Virginia that the election was a reaction to years of overlooked downward mobility and neglect from those very ‘elites’. While championing the gradual upward mobility of every kind of minority imaginable, they completely shunned those in the heartland who have lost almost everything except their dignity (and often that as well). When the downwardly mobile meet the upwardly mobile on socioeconomic terms—as has happened to the people of Appalachia in relation to many minority groups—a backlash must be expected. That backlash is called Donald Trump.
At InStill, we are reaching out to the forgotten people whose forebears did so much to make this country great in the first place. These people worked their fingers to the bone in mines and factories and on difficult terrain. They did so largely without slaves; and they did so quietly, keeping to themselves and not asking for much. They built strong communities and bred resilient offspring. In so many ways they provided the resources that fueled the American dream.
We are connecting with these people; honoring them; being humbled in their presence. We are not judging them because of the way they vote, or opinions that city folk may consider unenlightened. Mindfulness isn’t about viewpoints, as variable as they can be. Mindfulness is about uncovering the truth within, which is invariable and kind. Mindfulness provides an opportunity to connect on a much deeper level than discourse will allow, and it is that universal kinship that we are helping the good people of southwest Virginia uncover.
Politics is dependent on duality: us versus them; left versus right; good versus evil. Mindfulness is steeped in the universality of consciousness: may the divine in me see the divine in you. We are choosing to witness divinity rather than foster duality, and we extend the invitation for you to do the same.