“I think that in many cases people tend to expect the other person to respond to them in a positive way first, rather than taking the initiative themselves to create that possibility. I feel that’s wrong, it leads to problems and can act as a barrier that just serves to promote a feeling of isolation from others.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
My mornings, I admit, had become repetitive – wake up, put the kettle on for coffee, and sit down with my java and peruse the news.
Generally scanning the headlines, clicking now and again on something that caught my interest, up until about a month ago, when my morning read became this online adventure, a political three-ring-circus. It seems every day I am met with more “shock and awe”, and the Republican government on crack to the south now stealing columns and columns of debate, opinions, facts, and the alternatives.
Now I instead find myself hunting for those elusive truths, pecking away online through The Star, the NP, the CBC, Huffington Post, even pop in at Al Jazeera, or perhaps see what the alt-right is saying with a look at the Drudgereport. Again, addictively searching for new and different perspectives and other sides, other thoughts, an alternative to my own.
You know, trying to open my eyes, see what those to whom I may disagree have to say, always trying to balance my own beliefs with empathy and trying to keep an open-mind towards those I am diametrically opposed to, if only politically.
Have to admit, but I do believe America has become ‘that couple’.
You know, the one whose adversarial relationship has become almost legendary. Almost to the point where many find themselves trying to avoid having to invite them over, for fear of having again to watch their adulthood dissolve into another game of one-up-manship.
It hasn’t mattered who was right, and who was wrong, for some time. It would seem to no longer be concerned so much with facts, but almost seems now to just be a chance to pontificate on all the many things the other one does that makes them such a reprehensible human being. Like a contest, with neither participant actually listening to the other, as it’s not required, they know their lines.
Yet, yet, we smile, nod our head, and wish they would get over themselves, and fantasize about how you might avoid inviting them to the Christmas party.
One watches with, well, almost horror, as this Rasputin takes hold of the heart and mind of one side of this dysfunctional union, whispering sweet danger and mayhem, as they strive to widen that divide between, and work away at the fabric of their lives so thoroughly that they don’t even notice when all their rights and freedoms are gone, and become the servant to a master who’s core values revolve around the control of a foreign power.
It does remind one that democracy is, in fact, a privilege, not a right. That these things that we hold to be true must occasionally be fought for, and that we can never just rest upon our moral high ground, and call it a day. Democracy is fragile at times, weakening at the middle, and if it’s values are still relevant, then must be fought for, and maintained.
At the core, I think, of democracy, is a way to bridge the natural divide that exists within humanity. The diversity, the differences that make each unique and of value.
I read years ago a wonderful book co-wrote by a psychologist and The Dalai Lama, called “The Art Of Happiness”. In one section I recalled they each discussed the nature of couplehood, and the natural growing apart that happens over time. With each at one point or another, possibly, wondering what ever happened to the goals and dreams they once shared, before they devolved into the abyss of anger and “otherness”.
Basically, the answer was to see each other with new eyes. To begin to try to see the other, and concentrate on not what divides, but what instead they share.
“I think that if one is seeking to build a truly satisfying relationship, the best way of bringing this about is to get to know the deeper nature of the person and relate to her or him on that level, instead of merely on the basis of superficial characteristics.”
― Howard C. Cutler, The Art of Happiness
A respect for each at some point was forgotten. And THAT I believe is was made, and can make, American great again. It is why, during a time of religious prosecution, some brave souls decided to risk it all and make their way across the ocean into an unknown future.
It is that core of rebellion and a sense of right and wrong that brought together a group of people that felt that “taxation without representation” is not the way it should be.
Are these freedoms, and these rights, these core values, something we can just throw away when they are inconvenient? When manners and respect for the opinions of others can be freely trampled on, and where the din of everyone talking at once deafens us all to the fragility of knowledge and inconvenient facts.
“But there is another source of worth and dignity from which you can relate to other fellow human beings. You can relate to them because you are still a human being, within the human community. You share that bond. And that human bond is enough to give rise to a sense of worth and dignity. That bond can become a source of consolation in the event that you lose everything else.”
― Dalai Lama XIV,
The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living