This past week, I’ve been participating in an online course called Political Hope. Like many of us, I feel disillusioned, and powerless to bring about change within our divided society. The issues that we face are many, and the answers seem buried. The conversations focus more on who’s right vs. how can we come together to fix the system.
In the first video of the course, the instructor, Charles Eisenstein, talked about the root of the problems in today’s society – separation. He goes on to say that our separation comes from a wound of self-rejection. Our political landscape is a mirror of our psychic landscape. Personal, social, political, and ecological healing are all connected.
Our political system is set up as a battle – a competition between two sides. Our typical approach in any disagreement is to find a bad guy to assign blame to. But what if both sides are wrong?
As long as we remain in this polarized fight that dehumanizes the other side, and fails to attempt to understand, then things won’t change. We're locked in a holding pattern.
We must come together to work towards a common vision. We must ask the questions that no one is asking. We must bring personal stories to the surface, and accept disrupting information. We must focus on the things that we do agree on, move towards inclusivity, and bring into our awareness all that we have pushed to the margins.
Eisenstein points out that we often don’t ask the uncomfortable questions because we don’t know what to do about the answers – the problems no longer fit into our familiar diagnosis; and the problem involves ourselves because we are part of the system.
It’s time for a different approach. Take a step back and ask – am I involved in condemnation? What is my story? How can I stop fighting the opposing side, let go of trying to be right or to validate myself, so that I can truly understand, and give attention to what I really want, which is peace?
These are hard questions, and in today’s environment of separation, we suffer a crisis of belonging. Our loss of connection and belonging has led to addiction, greed, judgement, and oppression.
Let’s change the story. I’m starting by pausing to consider my motivation before I post or comment on social media; by asking questions to understand the other side before reacting; and by questioning my role in the separation – am I dehumanizing the other side? Am I rejecting any evidence that doesn’t support my belief?
By being open to listening to others’ stories, we can begin to dig under the surface and bring the fullness of the human experience to the conversation. Otherwise, things won’t change.
Pay attention to your everyday actions and ask yourself if you are acting from a place of love and compassion, or from separation. The power of change is not in the hands of the few, but in the connection between all of us.