When people have been in Ireland with me and are getting ready to fly back to the States, I always talk with them about reentry. Having been in a different energy, on so many levels, it can be jarring to step back into, as my husband names it, the default world. And now, with the energy of anger and fear that is palpable in this country, reentry has become even harder.
It’s such a dramatic shift from Ireland where people just generally hold an energy that welcomes an encounter and conversation. No fear. No judgment. And I have to admit that here in the States I’ve been carrying this place of caution and apprehension. Wondering whether those I encounter support our current administration. Wondering if there’s going to be an outburst of hatred. Wondering, and it’s hard to write this, whose side they are on. For we have become just that polarized. A polarization designed to feed fear and anger and hatred.
Spiritually, I know there is no ‘other.’ But sometimes it’s hard to remember that walking through the grocery store. So many people are so angry and unhappy.
Within this trauma created by the horrific and unspeakable actions of this administration that are attacking pretty much everything so many of us value, we wonder what we can do. Yes, we will vote. But beyond that it seems so overwhelming. Where do we start?
I am choosing to invoke a bit of the Irish spirit. I’m choosing to go out of my way to engage. To make eye contact and smile and say ‘hello’. There is generally an immediate shift in energy. Perhaps because I’m just a fuzzy haired old woman and not very threatening. But it matters not. What matters is that in this I am declaring that I will NOT see you for you may have voted for. I will NOT be afraid of your politics. I will see you for your humanity. I will see you for that light within you.
Because it works. Because it’s one thing I can do. Everyday.
Judith – email@example.com
I find that when I take this attitude, people just open up and respond with kindness. My husband and I have been discussing why people are so polarized and voting to harm their neighbors, and we came to the conclusion that they’re in “survival mode.” They fear for their jobs, for their families, and for their ability to survive. They’ve been told that they have to fear people who look or speak a certain way. Maybe they didn’t have access to the level of education or exposure to other cultures that I did. Most of them are not voting to hurt another, but they don’t feel safe enough to look out for anyone but themselves, so as a result, their actions hurt others to “help” themselves. A lot of it does not come from genuine hatred. The result is racist, homophobic, and bigoted action from people who would normally never behave this way. And when they are attacked for their actions, they defend to the point of cognitive dissonance. These people have been manipulated by their so-called leaders, and so has the other side. We see each other as fundamentally different, as enemies, because we’ve been told that’s what we are. This has helped me to have compassion for their situation, and not see them as “my enemy,” but as another person who needs help and to feel safe. That could be one way to end the polarization of “you” vs. “me” and just see “us.” It isn’t easy though.
Hey. Thank you for this thoughtful response. Indeed, there really is no ‘other.’ And when we do look to find the humanity, it’s there in most cases. I do wonder about the current GOP leadership. But for most people…the people we encounter every day. Yes. The anger and fear is being fed by the horrific narrative. But we can touch people and call to their higher being. It’s perhaps the most effective thing we can do. Loved what you wrote. Thanks so much.
Judith, Love this. Its a good reminder that we can all be present and kind regardless of the ideas in our heads about the stories about the stories about the opinions, ad nauseum….
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Just as one person may seem the “other” to me … I am certainly the “other” to that person. And, if I had the same life experiences that this “other” has had, I would see the world in the same way they do. Choosing to suspend the perspective that I know “why they are how they are,” I can instead be curious and desire to really know the other. I can take a risk and step forward. I can listen to their story. And, listen some more. And, with time, I might even be able to see the sacredness of their being … and remember how to connect with the sacredness before me.
Stunning insights. Beautifully stated. May we all do what we can to step forward and embrace the sacredness of being in all we encounter.