Many years ago, an Australian group called Mississippi released a song called “Kings of the World”. It caught my fancy and I have often had cause to think of the lyrics, never more so than at the present moment, in the wake of the American elections.
The waves of fear and anger unleashed by the election of Trump created such a perturbation in the collective that for several hours it pulled me out of centre.
I experienced the despair of environmentalists, the terror of LGBTQI folk, of people of colour and of women who foresee further curtailment of their right to sovereignty over their own bodies. I worried for the future of world peace and the spread of the legitimization of hatred to my own country, which already has its own contingent of right-wing haters. I felt, for that brief time, the chaotic scurrying of ants when a rock is dropped on their colony.
Then, the inner world realigned, the chaos abated and witness consciousness resumed its observations. The facts had not changed: the threats to millions, no, billions of people, remained. I belong to a hated minority so I, too, have skin in this game, as the saying goes. But once the shock passes, we have choices. Do we meet violence with violence? Do we capitulate under some misapprehension that compassion requires us to roll over a bare our puppy tummies for the predators? Or do we use wisdom, compassion and strength to work together in the community for change. I choose the third option. I choose to quiet the voice of hate that threatens to rise in my chest when I think of the suffering that will be unleashed upon innocent people – that is already being unleashed. I choose to eschew despair. I choose to resist, but through Gandhi’s way of ahimsa, the way of non-violence. I choose mindfulness.
And what of the song lyrics? How do they relate to these thoughts? The final lines of the chorus read:
Make way for the kings of the world
Make way for a. king, yes they still are here…
It’s only a game and we’ll come back again
To this time, and the kings of the world
(© Graham Goble 1972)
In common with every soul who has ever lived on this Earth, we are a part of history. Kings, queens, despots, dictators, presidents and prime ministers parade through the pages of history. They create peace and havoc, prosperity and suffering. They affect the lives of everyone for better or for worse. Only if we remain centred, mindful, can we devise ways to survive and thrive, avoid the gravitational pull of hatred and othering, and weave a future where our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will not have cause to look back on our choices with revulsion and sorrow.