Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: Where Do We Go From Here?
“The ego seeks to divide and separate. The spirit seeks to unify and heal.” — Pema Chodron
I had been looking forward to this past week for months.
My youngest son turned 21 on Thursday, and months ago, I made plans to fly out to see him in Michigan and celebrate. After all, 21 is one of those landmark birthdays. With him being the baby of the family, I was excited to go visit.
First thing Thursday morning, I called to tell him that I loved him. Then, I got on a plane to head his way and ended up spending the entire travel day watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimonies. It was a day I will never forget.
By the time I landed in Michigan, I felt emotionally and physically exhausted, even though all I had done all day was listen. But, I guess I had also absorbed everything that had transpired. I absorbed and related to Dr. Ford’s terror and her fear. I believed her story and I understood her reticence to step forward. I admired her sense of civic duty, her bravery, her courage and her honesty. I felt her pain. As she spoke, I wept. I wept for her and for all the people who have experienced sexual assault and who continue to deal with its lasting trauma.
Then, I turned my attention to Judge Kavanaugh and his testimony. I must say, I was unprepared for his rage and anger. Maybe it was because I was in a vulnerable state after listening to Dr. Ford. Maybe it was because I’m one of those people who struggle when someone explodes in rage. But either way, he caught me off guard and, I must say, it took me a few minutes to catch up with him.
To be clear, I understand Judge Kavanaugh’s anger, even his rage. I understand his pain and his frustration. No, I haven’t stood in his shoes, but I do have some experience with media onslaught and it’s horrible on every level. I also felt for his family sitting by his side and all that they’ve endured the past few days, just as Dr. Ford’s family has endured so much pain and public torture as well.
Both of these individuals have endured an onslaught that, as I wrote last week, has been unacceptable on all counts. It’s the type of onslaught that all of us should denounce.
Thursday was a day of testimony. It was a day to speak one’s truth. It was a day of raw emotion, raw rage, conflicting stories and different truths. Everyone I know approached watching the testimonies with feelings of their own. I’m sure even those who said they wanted to watch with open hearts and open minds (myself included) had a hard time not bringing their own feelings, experiences and opinions to the table.
I have two sons, four brothers and many male friends. So when the judge wrapped up his testimony asking the committee to think about the men in their lives — their sons, brothers, husbands and friends — I paused. I want what’s good for my sons to also be good for my daughters. I want my daughters to live in a world where, God forbid they ever face such a situation, they feel safe enough to speak up. I want them to feel heard and believed. That said, I want my sons to be treated fairly, too. I don’t want them to be trampled upon simply because they are men.
I’ve been around long enough to know how big a victory this is for women to be believed. I’ve been around long enough to know why women don’t come forward. I understand why they feel such terror. I understand how easily the mind can lead you to doubt yourself, to shame yourself and to push yourself back into a hole. I understand why women wait a lifetime to tell their stories, and why so many never do.
And so, after my son’s birthday dinner on Thursday night, I sat with my four kids to talk about the day. (My three older kids joined me in Michigan to celebrate their brother’s birthday.)
We spoke about civic duty. We spoke about Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. We spoke about drinking and assault, about men and women, about anger and rage and temperament. (I must say, the judge’s exchange with Sen. Klobuchar really stuck with me, and not in a good way.)
We also spoke about truth and doubt, about the importance of telling one’s story, and about the importance of telling someone you believe them when they do.
We spoke about our media and our politics today and about where we are as a country. I told them how I felt. I told them what an important day this was — and what an important day it will be — for our country, especially for their generation.
I went to bed with a heavy heart. I prayed for Dr. Ford’s sons, Judge Kavanaugh’s daughters and both of their families at large. I prayed that we will rise up as a country from all that is ripping us apart (just as Sen. Jeff Flake said Friday afternoon after calling for an FBI probe).
We have been ripped apart. We have been ripped open. We’re raw. I see it and feel it everywhere. As Sen. Chris Coons said, there is an “ocean of pain” out there.
Wow. Yes, there is.
But in that ocean, there is an opening. An opening for meaningful, difficult, heart-opening conversations. The kind of thought-provoking conversations that stun you, surprise you, open your heart, and change you.
There is also an opportunity before each of us (and not just those in Congress) to ask ourselves: how do we begin to heal this divide? How do we repair this terrible divide that is as big and deep and wide as an ocean?
Sen. Flake courageously stepped out on Friday and asked us to pause. He called for an FBI investigation that perhaps might answer some lingering questions. But even after that happens, the divide will still be profound. The ocean of pain will still be deep. It will be deep between parties, between genders, between races and between all of us.
The question before each of us is, what will we do? Each of us, as individuals. What can each of us do? After all, I think we can all agree that where we are now is untenable, unacceptable and unsustainable.
I don’t want to retreat. I want to reach out. I want to learn listen, connect and grow. I want to join together with those who want to begin a movement to put our country and ourselves back together again. As an Independent, as a woman and as a mother of two daughters and two sons, that’s what I want to do. I want more from me.
What about you?
Dear God, please help me through these confusing times. Please help us all through these confusing times. Right now, it feels like we won’t be able to find a way forward, but I know that’s not true. Please guide us to see our shared humanity. Help us rise above the noise and move forward together — some way, somehow. Amen.
Want more from Maria? Get The Sunday Paper for free in your inbox each week. SIGN UP HERE
WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN THINKING
The Architects of Change below will inspire you and make you think.
Martha Beck Responds With ‘Lovingkindness’ to the Heated Emotions Caused by Thursday’s Kavanaugh Hearing
A victim of sexual assault herself, Sunday Paper columnist Martha Beck says her initial response to Thursday’s Senate Judiciary hearing was a visceral one. But she reveals that when she, herself, was “awash in the worst hurricanes of my own fear, I found a tiny safe harbor in a Tibetan practice called “lovingkindness.”
In Her Latest Book, Musician Tena Clark Reveals How Her Southern Upbringing Influenced Her Activism
In her riveting new book, “Southern Discomfort,” my dear friend and Architect of Change Tena Clark explores how her upbringing in a repressive society in rural Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era forged her path towards women’s rights activism.
For more information on this book, you can also WATCH THIS VIDEO.
Angie Johnsey Reveals How to Stay True to Your Inner Voice in a World with Conflicting Views
This essay by Sunday Paper columnist Angie Johnsey is such an important read for all of us right now. She reminds us that in a world where it can be hard to know who to believe, it’s important to listen to one voice: our inner voice.
On Gold Star Mother’s Day, Rivka Bent Reveals Why She Wears Her Label With Pride
Rivka Bent lost her only son, a Marine veteran named Cole, after a long battle with brain cancer. In honor of Gold Star Mother’s Day today, Rivka explores why she has learned to accept her “Gold Star” label with pride and why she believes it is a “testament of our undying motherly love.”
Authors Dale Atkins and Amanda Salzhauer Offer Sensible Advice on How to Raise Kids with Compassion and Kindness These Days
This is a must-read for parents and caregivers raising kids in today’s divisive society. In their inspiring new book, “The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children,” Architects of Change Dale Atkins, PhD, and Amanda Salzhauer, MSW, reveal that “… children who are raised in a culture where giving and compassion are valued become happier and more positively engaged with those around them.”
This Week, We Shine a Light on … Jennifer Grove, who transforms today’s event flowers into tomorrow’s social good
Architect of Change of the Week: This week we recognize Jennifer Grove, founder and CEO of Repeat Roses.
How She’s Moving Humanity Forward: Event planner Jennifer Grove grew frustrated as she saw hundreds of pounds of flowers wind up in the trash after private and public celebrations. Seeing this as misguided misuse, Jennifer founded Repeat Roses, an organization that picks up your floral arrangements and then delivers them to patients in hospices, cancer treatment centers, mental health facilities, domestic abuse and homeless shelters. Later, they return to donor sites to collect the twice-enjoyed blooms for composting.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE…
1. There is Power In One Woman’s Voice: I was riveted and moved by the testimony given by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings on Thursday. This thought-provoking op-ed from the Washington Post reflects on the power that her voice and her words had that day.
2. How to Talk to Young People About Sex and Consent: In light of the Kavanaugh hearings and #MeToo movement, it’s so important to start conversations with our young people about consent. This informative piece from TIME magazine offers constructive advice on how to navigate the complexities of consent and all that goes with it.
3. Beto O’Rourke Defends Political Opponent Ted Cruz After Protesters Force His Family to Leave D.C. Restaurant: Now is the time to vote for people who raise our moral standards. Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke defended the right of Sen. Ted Cruz, his opponent in the Texas Senate race, to eat in peace after protesters allegedly chased the Cruz family out of a Washington restaurant Monday night.
4. Neil Armstrong’s Sons Reflect on Childhood with the Man Who Walked on the Moon: This article provides interesting insights into the life of Neil Armstrong, whose keepsakes will be made public at an upcoming auction. Reading it gives a fascinating look into what life was like growing up with the famous American astronaut.
5. Dalai Lama Offers Thoughts on How to Push Technology in a Direction That Will Benefit Humanity: I always stop and listen when His Holiness, The Dalai Lama speaks. In this interview about technology and compassion, he says that in order to keep pushing tech in a direction that will benefit humanity as a whole—rather than benefiting a select few—we must encourage open dialogues among leading figures in business, government, and spirituality.
6. Burt Bacharach, Composer of ‘What the World Needs Now,’ Writes New Song Dedicated to Survivors of School Shootings: The multi-award-winning composer Burt Bacharach has teamed up with Grammy-winning Latin composer Rudy Perez to pen “Live to See Another Day,” an emotional and beautiful song dedicated to victims of school violence. The message is powerful. READ MORE and HEAR THE SONG BELOW
BOOKS I’VE BEEN READING
“Southern Discomfort: A Memoir” by Tena Clark: This is a compelling read by my dear friend, Architect of Change Tena Clark. Set in rural Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, she tells the tale of her coming of age in a repressive society to becoming a strong voice for women’s rights.
“The Kindness Advantage: Cultivating Compassionate and Connected Children” by Dale Atkins, Ph.D., and Amanda Salzhauer, MSW: This book is a must-read in today’s divisive society. It’s a practical and concrete guide for parents and caregivers to equip their kids with the skills they need to be a positive influence on the world.
“Maverick and Me” Board Book Edition by Katherine Schwarzenegger: As a proud mom, I’m excited to announce that my daughter Katherine’s children’s book “Maverick and Me” was released this week in a board book edition. It makes the perfect gift for any child (and animal lover) in your life. I love this book, I love its message and, of course, I love her. Get it on and
SHARE YOUR SUNDAY DINNER
Sunday Paper reader Dana Petersen from Goleta, California sent us this heartwarming photo of her family enjoying Sunday Dinner “California style.”
“Both my husband and I came from close-knit families with a tradition of Sunday dinners. There would always be room and more than enough food for whoever showed up,” Dana says. “Our families are shrinking now with family members that have passed and kids that have moved away. But we still value the time spent with family and keeping traditions alive!”
Thanks so much, Dana, for sharing your family photo with us! We hope you’ll send along photos of your family dinners, too. E-mail us here and we’ll share them in The Sunday Paper.
This morning, I wanted to share an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s inspiring poem “A Brave and Startling Truth.” Angelou first delivered it at the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the UN in 1995, which is fitting since this month is United Nations Month. The message of this poem feels particularly profound for us today. Click here to read the full poem, in which Angelous reminds us that love is our final truth.
READER FEEDBACK ON FINDING YOUR VOICE
I am so moved by this beautiful painting by Anne Neilson, a friend and fine artist from Charlotte, N.C.. After reading last week’s Sunday Paper about finding your voice, Anne wrote to tell us about how this painting was one of the first time she really used hers.
She writes: “Sixteen years ago, I painted my first angel and sent a picture to my sister asking her thoughts. She replied, “YOU have found your voice.” That has become my life song!”
JOIN US FOR AN INSPIRING CONVERSATION
SHOP THE MARIA COLLECTION:
Good for You, Your Mind & the World
Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD! BECOME A SUNDAY PAPER AMBASSADOR
Are you a passionate and purpose-driven person? Do you believe media can be both informative and inspiring? Do you have ideas and want to help shape The Sunday Paper? If so, then become a Sunday Paper ambassador!
We want you to help us expand our digital paper route by telling people who we are and what we are putting out into the world. Become a VIP Sunday Paper Ambassador today and join a group of Architects of Change who are making a difference and move humanity forward!
THE SUNDAY PAPER PROUDLY SUPPORTS…
The Sunday Paper elevates the voices and ideas of those who are seeking to make a difference and move humanity forward. To that end, we proudly support the work of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, which is making a difference by fighting Alzheimer’s and working to change the future for all minds.