As I’ve written before, it seems as if the only real work of this life – of these lives that are ours – is surrender, surrender to what is, to what will not leave, to reality as reality presents itself to each one of us. How to surrender is quite another thing – how do we surrender to what is? What is the movement, the action, the non-action we must take to surrender? I cannot say for sure, although I know many stories – of my own and of others – of those moments of surrender.
Over the past few years, much has been written about the polarity of the people of this country. We see the polarity played out in so many ways, not the least in the failure to operate of our elected officials, of the Congress, of the leaders of the nation. “Deadlock” is the political word, I believe. In a deeper sense, I would continue to use the word, “polarity.”
As I reflected, over time, about the polarity, I began to realize that I, too, was part of the polarity. How did I see this? How many times was I able to engage in conversation with someone with whom I do not see eye to eye, someone “across the aisle?” Truth is, I don’t even know many folks “across the aisle.” That’s a problem in itself. And if I know folks “across the aisle,” there are things we don’t talk about! That, too, is a problem…
But, there it is…
As time passed, I began to see that I am somehow locked in my own thinking – my own thinking with its own definitions of “justice, truth, fairness, equality.” But how to break out?
Often, I began to think of the current political situation as a reflection of who we are as a people. Our elected officials are polarized because we are polarized. And where does the polarity lie, really? How do I surrender to this? How do I accept this?
I don’t want to be seen as a narrow thinker! After all, I’m a progressive, post-modern woman with a history and a sense of time and history of my own. But – and this is also true – I am locked into my own polarized thinking. How is that? “I am right – they are wrong.” “How can they think that way?” (How can I think this way?!) “Don’t they see what I see?”
In the inner journey, the journey that is the real journey of life, the “enemy” is only within. If I want to be part of a movement to end the polarization so that I can also be part of what moves us forward as a people, then I have to begin by dealing with my own part of the polarization. It’s easy enough to look at the elected officials, to say, “why don’t they reach across the aisle?” Why, why not?
My task is to deal with the enemy within me, the one who sees things as “good, bad,” “right, wrong,” “just/unjust.” This goes way beyond morality. This goes to the heart of who we are as human beings.
And “dealing with the enemy within” is no easy job. It may be the hardest job in the world… My freedom may lie with this job. My own freedom, and perhaps the freedom of others.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Ah, yes, sounds good… but how, Jesus??? How do I love, how do I learn to love, how do I act to love this one enemy, within me?
More, later… the cogitating continues! What do you think/feel/consider/reflect?
*** A good read about the way the brain works that leads to polarized thinking: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,
written by Jonathon Haidt. You can also see Jonathon on TED talks online.