December 13, 2021

We are Living in Divisive Times—& Why we need to Move Beyond “I’m Right” & “You’re Wrong.”


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D is for Division

“Out beyond right or wrong there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ~ Rumi

And in this field, may we be certain that there is not a giant game of “tug-of-war” going on, men and women huffing and puffing, straining and pulling, to win. Like “Squid Game.” To win the evergreen battle of “right” and “wrong.” Of “I know.”

Of superior noses, and eyes that have long since closed shop, no longer the gateways to the heart’s reception of warmth and fireside chats whilst lifting an ale to your health and happiness.

What the hell are we doing to each other?

I can’t be the only one who feels both deep sadness and pain, as well as fierce anger, about what is happening in the world regarding the separation around the question “to vax or not to vax.” Mandates, quarantines, and restrictions; control and coercion; shaming and naming and manipulation; separation and pointing of fingers, until we are tied up in knots, wondering who to trust, what to trust, and when the division set in to rot!

From the extremes of the pro and anti cries to all the shades of grey in between (and there are more than 50!) of those who are still watching and assessing how all is unfolding (i.e., do they work, are they safe, and so on), we all have an opinion.

We will always have an opinion. It’s how we are as creatures both civil and social and debating on life since the beginning of time. I mean, great philosophers and thinkers have made their name and reputations out of having an opinion. Leaders have inspired uprisings, revolutions, and change. Lunatics have encouraged chaos and destruction. Heck, even the bible is someone’s opinion about the events of a man called Jesus!

When we are so filled with our opinions then we leave no room to listen to anyone else’s. To live with enough grace to hear each other means that we value our fellow human beings as deserving of the same respect and dignity as we do. Yes, this gets sticky and complicated when we think of those we might label as evil or who have caused unspeakable acts of harm with their opinions. I understand that. And I’m not saying that it’s easy. But to regard each other with dignity and respect, that is a grace that in fear we forget.

The uncontrollable causes us to feel helpless. We turn toward control, clinging to something that is dangled as hope.

I’m not a conspiracist, nor am I strongly swayed by the vehement beliefs of others, no matter how passionate they are about their truth. Because this is the thing, you see, each of us is entitled to our own truth.

And yet we seem to be living out Lord of the Flies. How we turn upon each other, rabid, slather drooling out of our mouths, wild dogs, wide-eyed with fear and suspicion, ready to take an eye for an eye and turn the whole world blind. Scratch the surface and the veneer of civility falls away. The primal urge to survive, of the fittest, overtaking all rhyme or reason.

The sheer brutality of people’s they and us comments on social media (particularly Twitter where I lurk the most), makes the hairs on my skin bristle with cold terror. The lack of care. The lack of empathy. The lack of humanity. The division grows and the cracks start to destabilize the ground we have all stood, wept, danced, and lived upon.

I wonder if that’s the idea, ultimately. For man to turn against man. To put a huge cross through love thy neighbour as you would love yourself. To divide us so that we can so easily be conquered.

It’s happening, isn’t it?!

The Divided Land. The Earth cracks dry, splitting into vein lines, spider-webbed threads of visible separation. I wonder if whether when our tears dry up, we become bone dry?

Tears create wells of compassion. Create streams and channels that we can meet and greet each other. Whether we swim with an Olympian stroke of the gods, we paddle our life-boated self to safety and survival, or we float downstream, our body all Ophelia-draped when we’re so close to giving up the ghost.

But these channels of water keep us together.

No man is an island and yet we peer out all suspicious, telescopes causing our eyes to screw up tight and close. No longer peripheral-visioned, we only see what we choose to focus on, what we’ve decided to devote all our attention to. Meanwhile, the whole world and galaxies await with patient mourning for them to be noticed. That they too exist.

We are living on divisive lands. We are living in divisive times.

Do we react or respond? One formed from the dry flint of anger’s flame, sparked by fear and the primal animal urgency to survive at all costs. The other tended to with the ground bowl of the heart, the water of oceans that we forget are our makeup, sustaining and powerful. Connecting us forever.

It’s up to us. To choose to see the beauty or the ugly. It’s our choice, and in that choice, as always, lies our power. A power to create our reality. Not from a place of denial or avoidance or to turn our cheek or heart to stone, but from the understanding that we can take the actions needed. To face injustice. To allow our voice to be heard. To invite change. And to cause a revolution.

And, vitally, to allow each other to have our own opinion. Our own truth.

Beauty fell in love with the beast. At first, she was scared of him. But gradually his heart shone through the ugliness that the world saw. He melted her heart, and in the heart’s seeing, he became her prince.

There is a story I read once in a book by Jack Kornfield. Of the man with scales covering all of his body, and the woman betrothed to him. Seeking wisdom for how to approach him on her wedding night, an old woman (they usually are!) gave her advice to tend with care. To see with the heart. Beyond right or wrong. And in this act, of service, of recognition, of the seeing that is beyond the mind’s eye with its fears and suspicions, he was loved back to life by a woman who learned how to love.

We all see the scales of others that we’re afraid of. That we don’t understand. Ignorance and fear cause our eyes to go blind. We have these scales too, and try as hard as we might, there will be those who only notice our scales, and to them, we will appear ugly and wrong.

It’s part of how we protect ourselves and justify our point of view. It’s how we stay safe in the way that faux safety separates us and creates further division. After some time, probably over a period of years, if we fail to consider and reflect upon this illusory safety, we will find ourselves imprisoned. Safe yes, but behind bars of our own making, our lives small and limited and impenetrable by anyone who dares to reach out to feel the once tender flesh of the person we once were. The newborn naked and terrified.

We are wired for connection. The newborn has this part biologically pure and perfectly formed within its immense world. We peer at the little one’s face and we fall deep into the spaciousness of love, of truth, of being.

We wear the mask of separation, and we walk around seeing the Beast, where Beauty lies hidden within. Like one of those chocolates, hard on the outside yet gooey and melting on the inside!

Can you imagine a world where we dropped the mask? How that becomes a hot route straight to the heart, to receptivity. The trust in the nervous system becoming the trust of Mamma Earth. The safety of our ground of being. Simply being connected. Our original face. Not original sin. For, let’s be honest here, we are all sinners, grand sinners, so let’s f*cking welcome those parts of us. The Beast deserves to be waltzed with in Beauty’s arms! That’s what the tales tell, hey?!

We all have the story of “Beauty and the Beast” within us. They dance an eternal dance, for they need each other. One cannot exist without the other. As above so below. As within so without. The world that we live in has both.

When we are afraid, if we are not care-full, we summon this Beast. Maybe we’ve got it all wrong in our childhood tales. Maybe we are not afraid of the Beast that we suspect lurks beneath our bed or in the closet. Perhaps it is fear itself that creates the Beast that appears to grab us.

To be able to not react when the world feels like it’s attacking us personally is a skill. A practice. To say thank you and to mean it as each blow strikes, strikes me as an ultimate spiritual practice. One of the highest perhaps. To bow in reverence to every person’s opinion as each strike falls means that we create an invisible force field around us. One of being completely at peace with who we are. With knowing that what others say or think about us has nothing to do with us. We are free to move toward or away from. Yet we do so without the need to collapse into grasping nor to pull away with violence and silent snipery.

To create a division causes a fracture in that which binds us. Sticks are stronger together, unbreakable in fact.

The land we live upon, this beautiful earth, was not created with lines upon it. Chalk lines, where a body, a nobody, a somebody, used to be. Borders and boundaries are man-made. We label everything because we want to feel in control. To know what’s what. To feel safety in this man-made box. To separate from other isn’t new; we’ve been doing it for years.

Whether it’s the colour of our skin, the sex or sexuality we claim and own, or the religious belief in the children’s playground tantrum game of this is my God, not yours!—we will continue to do so because of fear. We will continue to create wars and suffering. Apartheid and estrangement. Do you know why? Because we long to belong. It’s evident from the moment that cord is cut, and we are separated from our mothers, that we are seeking to find that thread back once again. To feel a part of. To feel not alone. To no longer be wandering sole and soullessly across the lands.

But we forget that it isn’t outside of us. The shaming and blaming other won’t give us the key nor freedom to free ourselves from the cage. The cage we created ourselves.

Beauty stretches us. We lean in. To peer closer. To touch.

We can use our voice to both create and destroy.

Rub out those chalk lines and lean into each other. Drop the illusion of the delusion of separation and feel your neighbour’s heartbeat. Let’s allow each other our freedom to be, to think, to make the choices that honour our own truth. Stick together. Love each other. And be the revolution.

Out beyond right or wrong there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

Aho X

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