Admittedly, after the recent presidential election, I found myself feeling unsettled. My emotions were running the gamut from sadness to anger to disappointment to frustration. I can say that normally my emotions do not rule my day like they have been recently. Even dealing with my father’s long time illness and his recent death, my emotions had been steady and full of contentment, joy and happiness. I truly felt grateful to be a part of his journey both as witness and caregiver. So I wondered, why did I choose to be present, loving, patient and kind during a difficult time for my family and yet throw away these skills when the election results were revealed?
After much thought, It occurred to me that it was because of the family connection; I was open to whatever presented itself and willing to respond accordingly. I did not feel so generous in spirit however, when the elections went in a direction that both startled and saddened me. I eventually came to see that I had separated myself from “all those people” who were different from me and my family. I was more than willing and able to maintain a quality of peace for my family, during a time of turbulence, but let myself get drawn into the rhetoric about who and what the new administration was. I had lost my centre and more generous spirit. I forgot that the ups and downs (even the extremes) are all a part of our human experience, all part of the continuum which help us realize that we are interconnected.
Once I realized that I had created a separation between myself and others by falling into an “us vs. them” attitude I also realized that I too was being intolerant; a criticism I found myself easily lobbing at Trump supporters during his whole campaign. Intolerance is intolerance. I was forming opinions about people that I did not know, and also chose to think the worst of them. Why? What conditioned me to have this separation?
Many years ago I surprised myself when I was able to fully and completely forgive my alcoholic and drug addled father for his violence perpetrated upon our family. I was able to do this because as an adult, I looked beyond my own lens and saw the world from his perspective. He was a child of war, lived in poverty, was an immigrant, had limited education, experienced abuse from the church, and who thought his purpose in life was to make money, put a roof over our heads and feed us. As a child in a family of 12; love, nurturing, existential thought and community welfare was not in his skill set. Survival was.
Forgiveness and compassion are learned. I learned from my own experience that when I chose to be open hearted and forgiving then I had the opportunity to connect on a deeper more profound level with myself and those around me. I had an ahah moment when I realized that until I give our neighbours and friends in the south, the same willingness to be generous in spirit and open of mind and heart, then I would miss the opportunity to make a meaningful connection. In effect, to allow for compassion and forgiveness to arise.
These are exactly the emotions that facilitate healing in the world.
Like my fathers life experience which served to colour his own thoughts and behaviours; those that supported Trumps narrative and his divisive beliefs, have their reasons for doing so. Their unique journeys have brought them to that point in time. I must though check myself consistently to ensure that I do not contribute to the negative dialogue and perpetuate the “us vs. them” attitude. I can live the practice I cultivate in my meditation room every day.
We must be mindful that there is a difference between objective discussion and bashing an opponents view. This does not mean we should be silent on issues which have raised our ire and affected the lives of others in a harmful way, but the discourse can be rational and humane. We can elevate the conversation in content not in decibels. We can and must focus, be grounded in our beliefs supporting human rights and equality for all.
Today is the day the rubber hits the road. This is the day that we must individually commit to peace and love. This is also the day that its starts with me.
Deepak wrote a timely and prescient piece here. dated November 8th.
Wishing You Peace. B