The Day Joe Biden Called

“The Day Joe Biden Called”

Transitions are hard and difficult. As someone who studies history, I know that people resist transitions because we don’t know what will come next. We are fearful of the unknown so we criticize and oppose any semblance of difference. We struggle to hold onto what we know, because we don’t want to confront the one constant in life, change.

My cultural traditions teach me that I am not separate from anyone else. That what I do to others, I ultimately do to myself. That I embody multiple identities, contradictions, and complexities. That I coexist in one body politic, and that I am not immune to the constant attacks and ugliness occurring in America right now.

The past few years have unearthed what many of us have known for too long — that a foundation of bigotry, exploitation, and fear has always lied right underneath the surface. The insurrections that we are witnessing are not a surprise to us. The mistrust in our leaders and in our systems are grounded in centuries of untold trauma and oppression. All of us are tired, worn out, and desperately in need of hope.

Those of us who have historically experienced pain and trauma have always known that we are the ones who will care for and protect ourselves. We have always known that the answers we are yearning for are waiting to be uncovered within the depths of ourselves. We have always known that ancient technologies and wisdom have always guided us in times of uncertainty. Our self-care is the only thing that can ensure our survival. The external won’t save us, but only we will.

Even though I try my best to be centered and non-reactionary, I struggle to withstand the politics of fear and division. I fight the urge to give in to false saviors or easy solutions. And while I still believe in magic, I also know that our future depends on our individual and collective actions. That each one of us, including myself, must commit to the hard and grueling work of confronting our own anxieties and insecurities. That what I demand of our political leaders, I must also demand of myself.

Six years ago, I experienced the hardest transition of my life. When my father unexpectedly passed away, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I could move on. I didn’t know if I would fall victim to the uncertainty of it all. But then, like now, I was fortunate to have community. Then, like now, I was blessed to have loved ones that held me when I needed them the most. Then, like now, I had to learn how to let go and trust my faith that one day I would feel better.

In that moment of darkness, when no words could comfort my grieving mother, when no addictions could fill the void I felt, I had the privilege of attending a dinner at then Vice-President Joe Biden’s home. With no political gain, simply the desire to console a heartbroken widow, Joe Biden called my mother. He left a message expressing his condolences and sharing words from a person who had himself overcome tremendous loss. And in that moment, his words comforted my mother. His small act of kindness helped my mother overcome her pain and realize that even though things would never be the same, that one day she would feel a little better.

I don’t know what will come next in this moment of transition for America. I don’t know how we will react to and respond to a new administration with new ideas and new policies. But, what I do know is that organizers will continue to hold elected officials and our institutions accountable. That local communities, and grassroots organizations, will continue to provide the most basic needs and services for the most vulnerable. That we, the people, if we are able to unite, will build the world that is demanding to be born. I believe this in my heart, and I have finally recognized that this is where I find my innermost peace and solace.

This is the message of Joe Biden. This is the reason I can sleep a little more deeply because I know that we now have a President that understands the depth of loss and the power of resilience. That transitions can alter the way we see ourselves, and thereby, alter the way we live our lives. That people across this country, and across this world, are searching for an ancient kind of knowledge that you can only find in the silence of your heart. That intuitively we know that if we work together we can overcome these latest tragedies and come out stronger than ever before.

Mike de la Rocha is an author, artist and co-founder of Revolve Impact.

Revolve Impact is a movement-driven social change agency that offers forward thinking solutions to the most pressing social justice issues of our generation.