[Originally published at: rebellesociety.com on 2/13/16]
We live in a world profoundly divided by ideology. A world where we are continually exposed to extreme differences; differences that often result in conflict. In the circles I frequent, extreme conservative and right-wing sensibilities are a source of dissonance and frustration for many. And, I myself, can become offended and/or royally pissed off by the words and actions of others. News and social media offers me nonstop fodder to ignite this dissonance. At times I take the bait... rallying with others "together in favor" of this-and-that... and rising up "opposed to him or her".
And yet more and more I'm realizing that when we roll our eyes or condemn or grow frustrated with another human for not speaking or behaving in the manner that we would expect, we are missing the point entirely. Maybe it's not our politics or our beliefs that define how effective we are... perhaps it's the character with which we show up and navigate the realities of a shared humanity.
Consider this: When you are "offended" your psyche imagines it's been attacked. Yet in reality it's only a belief, a mental and/or emotional construct that is under fire. Something is rubbing up against what you "know" to be true and you feel a need to defend it.
But before you fire back, pause, and ask yourself:
Do you really want to wage a war? Even IF the cause you represent makes you feel 100% justified... is it necessary that you *fight back* in order to gain ground?
Maybe your answer is yes, but I challenge that. As human history has shown us, violence and divisiveness does not change minds; it destroys lives. If you are like me, and you don't believe in fighting wars, then check yourself as to how you approach everyday conflicts in your life.
We are on the brink of electing a giant bully as a nominee for president. And people on the left (and right) keep asking: HOW could this be happening?! How could someone like him be an option for so many? Yet the more I look around at the way so many of us handle conflict in our everyday lives, the less surprised I am.
Trump is a living-and-breathing representation of what happens when the human shadow is allowed to run amok. Left or right, when we point fingers, label others, and allow our ideology to keep us from being curious and willing... we are no different than him. Just because our labels are more flowery and politically-correct, it doesn't make them any less divisive.
Politically, it doesn't matter much if you swing left or right.
If you draw hard lines when it comes to difficult truths then there is a fundamental flaw in your aim.
Do you REALLY want people to open their minds?
Then open yours. Wider than ever.
Has rolling your eyes and/or shaming someone for their beliefs EVER worked to open a heart and ignite the love you hope to inspire?
I seriously doubt it.
Judging others for their ignorance reveals to them your arrogance, not your intellect.
Instead of wagging your finger in someone's face, why not offer up a nugget of wisdom?
TIP: Wisdom = vulnerability + personal experience. It's NOT the same thing as a political soundbite you read on the internet.
Tell them how you overcame *your own* biases and judgement. And ask them how they inherited theirs. Create a dialogue that has the potential for truth-telling, versus shaming them for a mental construct they most likely played little part in creating.
In a divided world, there is a desperate need for safe spaces where we can openly speak what is in our minds and hearts without fear of condemnation. Where we can practice owning our truth and saying... "Hey, I know this might not be popular, but here's where I'm at as of now."
Sidenote: this is not an argument for emotional or spiritual bypassing. It's not an invitation to turn up your headphones and tune out the troubles of the world in the name of good vibes. No. It's a call for honest to goodness human-to-human dialogue where hard truths are welcome and heard.
There are many ways to stand up for what you believe in... and I wholeheartedly believe that the world will become a peaceful place when we really get that "the-good-fight" isn't really a fight at all. It's a confidence firmly rooted in integrity and sovereign self expression.
And P.S. I'm learning right alongside you. So no need to knock me off of any high horse. ;)
We are all going the best we can. Let's all practice (& do better) together.