The election is over, and I might add… finally! Yet… politics-as-usual threaten to continue to frustrate, and divide.
This past week on Facebook I saw several posts that left me feeling weighed down. Sensations in the region of my heart shifted into an ache, and as I made a point to slowly deepen the breath into my belly, I noticed a sense of despair. What troubled me was noticing that even right after an election, and even for those who had the outcome they sought, the pervasive culture seems to sanction keeping the fight going by means of “otherizing”, pettiness and snark.
In contract to a sense of “Ubuntu”, where your well-being and my well-being are inextricably interconnected, the tone is competitive, dog-eat-dog, and reinforces socially acceptable striving to wind up on top by making sure another is left down below. I notice more than ever how often disagreements get addressed with reactive variations of the same theme.
“How do we get rid of this person?”
“We would be better off without them!”
In addition to feeling the ache and despair, I also felt enticed by what I read. Snark can be highly seductive, emotionally contagious, and the urge to pile on once someone starts it can be hard to resist. How often do we settle for acting out our own unresolved issues, projecting them outwardly onto someone else? And yet, is it because often, we just don’t know another way to do it? Ultimately, wherever we focus ourselves, we greatly influence each other, for good, or for ill.
Beyond the politics, the culture of humiliation, and the fear of anyone and anything different than me: Where and how can we find another way?
In contrast to the destructiveness commonly seen in politics, I felt encouraged after viewing Dan Siegel on TEDx, Nurturing a Healthy Mind: Relationships that Matter, Optimal Brain Matter, and a Daily Mental Diet. Here he is talking about his struggle with his first-born son when he was an infant.
“… When he would cry, I would really care for him and I could feel his suffering and I would take care of him, and if he continued to cry, I would try to take care of him some more, and then if he continued to cry something shifted inside of me… and I would find that my muscles would get very tense… and I would get very, very irritated with him, and I would become anything but compassionate. I would become impatient, intolerant, I wouldn’t be able to see him clearly and that of course agitation in me, only made him more agitated. So I was very, very confused…… How could I be compassionate sometimes, but not compassionate all the time?”
As we’ve come to the end of politically saturated week, I hope you will find time to watch it as he reminds us that compassion for other people begins with compassion for ourselves and urges us to take seriously the fact that we are all in this together.
“To make this world different we have to realize that the self is plural, it’s an absolute delusion that’s killing the planet to think that the self is separate.”
[Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.