I seldom talk about politics publicly. I’m uncomfortable with how antagonistic and “us vs. them” we tend to get. Political sparring, which can get quite vile, doesn’t fit in with my vision of the peaceful world I want us to co-create. And while I very much want “good” people in public office who will be kind, smart, and wise (oh how idealistic I am!), I don’t enjoy fueling the fires of hatred and fear as the subject of politics is wont to do.
A week or so ago a friend voiced an opinion on Facebook about a candidate whom she favored. One of her friends commented on her opinion in a way that I didn’t perceive as particularly nasty, and my friend (for whom I had previously had a lot of respect), rapidly spiraled down into some incredibly nasty name-calling. And they were both in the same political party! If there is going to be such odious behavior even within parties, then how can we ever hope to achieve a modicum of civility between parties?!
How can we learn to be more respectful to those with differing opinions? I wish we could remember that we are all human beings who basically want the same things; we just have very, very different ideas of how to get there. I think people react with such extreme emotions because they are, beneath it all, quite simply, afraid. They are afraid that such and such a candidate will ruin their chances of stability or financial comfort or peace or whatever.
I confess that my default setting is not political, but spiritual. And so I tend to think in terms of spiritual growth and evolution. In that vein, my fellow citizens, here is our growing edge. Can we learn to be more civil with one another? Can we learn that the venom with which we treat one another ripples out into the world in ways we cannot begin to imagine? If we all want, deep down, to live in a more peaceful world (and I believe we all do — except possibly the arms dealers), then we need to learn to model more peaceful behavior. We cannot hope to ever see a more harmonious world if we cannot learn to control our hostility within our own interpersonal interactions. And that includes our posts on Facebook and other social media.
Among my peers, there is one candidate whose words and actions many of us find abhorrent. Truth to tell, it is very tempting at times to ridicule him; and many, many of my friends fall prey to that temptation. Well, here is another HUGE spiritual lesson. It’s a really, really, really hard one, but once achieved, it is absolutely transformational. Can we learn to (bear with me) … hate the sin and love the sinner?
I know, I know. The very thought of loving someone who is so unlovable is hard to swallow. It’s like asking you to love Hitler or Stalin. And yet, even the most vile and evil among us were once children. Something happened to them somewhere along the way and they… swerved. My guess is these villains act in such extreme ways because, deep down, they are afraid. They cover up that fear with megalomania and narcissism and acts of inhumanity and horror. But that doesn’t mean we should be as vile as they. It does, of COURSE, mean we shouldn’t vote for them. And we can do whatever is necessary to prevent them from getting into political office. I’m just saying, can we do it in a more civilized manner without sinking to their own abhorrent behavior?
There is one candidate who tries really hard to not resort to name-calling and mud-slinging. I respect him enormously for that. What a role model. Can we learn to espouse our views passionately without being vicious and obnoxious?
I, for one, would like us to try.