There are so many divided camps of belief and opinion these days – in response to the pandemic, schooling, social justice, health, politics, governance, conspiracy, responsibility, etc, etc (pretty much everything is dividing us right now!) And people are being very loud and very FIRM in their stance, often to the extreme of attacking or shunning those whose views differ from their own. I have personally been pestered, attacked and unfriended over sharing my own beliefs and opinions. And I’m sure there are people out there who think I have behaved similarly towards them.
I have a background in science and education, and one of my triggers is the perpetuation of unverified information on social media as credible and factual. I find myself in Flight or Fight response when I read something on Facebook that falls into this category, particularly if it pushes a view that I disagree with. My heartrate and breathing speed up, my adrenaline kicks in and I start to feel protective of what is mine (in this case, my beliefs and opinions).
But what if I turned down my science brain and stepped outside of my teacher identity for a minute? (After all, those parts of me were created in my mind through logic, thought and ego.) What if, instead of reacting, I tuned into my spiritual self? What if I listened to the part of me that resides in my heart and is connected to the Oneness of All that Exists?
My ego mind says, “React. Judge. Fear. Protect.”
My spiritual self says, “Be still. Connect. Listen. Love.”
When we find ourselves in a situation where we feel triggered by a person who does not share our viewpoint, or worse, who blatantly speaks against what we think is right, we are often quick to judge them.
Why does this person push back so hard against what I believe to be true?
Well, our mind answers, they must not care about people’s health! OR They must want to take away my freedom! OR They must want people to die! OR They must think they are better than me! OR They must be stupid or uninformed! OR They must hate America! OR They must hate people who are different! They must be whiny/entitled/privileged/arrogant/ignorant/brainwashed/etc.
I am just as guilty of these thoughts as anyone else.
Stop. When we place ourselves in the role of “Judge” we place people in an “Other” category, separating ourselves from their struggles and humanity.
So why does someone vehemently push back against another’s opinion? Why do people hold on so tightly to their beliefs?
Because they – WE – are afraid. They are afraid to be sick or die. They are afraid to lose friends or loved ones. They are afraid to lose their job. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the uncertain future. They are afraid of losing control. Afraid of relinquishing power. Afraid of change. Afraid to be judged. Afraid of their own darkness. Afraid of the darkness in others.
So many souls are drowning in Fear right now. I wrestle with Fear daily.
Please try to resist the temptation to lash out and judge, or even to teach and correct. Those are actions of the Ego. The only way we can collectively survive this time and remain whole is to operate from a place of compassion and love.
There is so much right now that is outside of my control. If I let it fuel my fears, frustrations, anger or anxiety, I will only make myself smaller and separate. The more we separate from each other by holding firmly to our opinions and beliefs, the harder it will be to weather this difficult time for humanity.
Change and growth is much more difficult if we are in pieces. If we have lost connection to our souls and become blind to the Oneness of All that Exists, we will only find more struggle. We depend on each other to survive just as we depend on the air, sun, water, trees, worms, wolves, and microbes.
We don’t have to be enemies with those whose views are different than our own. When you find yourself defensive or unmoving, shift out of your mind for a few minutes and into your heart. Acknowledge the fears that have been driving some your own passionate standpoints. See if you can find that connection to the people who disagree with you.
Try to find the space (and grace) to honor their fears. Their fears are as valid as yours. Your fears can be as debilitating as theirs.