There is a lot of discussion these days about the rights of individuals within a society. So many people are upset about one thing or another—masks, vaccines, voting rights, human rights, economic inequality. Beliefs can divide as well as unite. At times it becomes “self” vs. “others,” “me” vs. “them”; some people start to believe in conspiracies. There is often fear in these conflicts—fear of difference, fear of the world beyond the self. When people are frightened, they close doors and claim their “sovereignty.” Or they fall into the trap of hating others, and this is how wars begin. If people opened their hearts and arms, we could live in a world where everyone has both freedom and rights (without infringing on others’ rights).
Is this possible? How do we respond to the anger and fear arising now? Perhaps we could begin by focusing on empathy and kindness. These basic human values are sometimes forgotten along the way. What do we want, as a people, as a planet? Peace on Earth? As long as we are trying to convince someone else that our way is “right,” we will never live in a peaceful world. Nothing is just one thing. And no one person can stand alone and survive without the support of a caring community. You and I may not agree on anything, but can we accept that and expand into something greater, like the willingness to allow difference? Universal peace begins in each of our lives, in each of our hearts.
What is needed is a shift in consciousness, based on inclusion instead of exclusion. Open arms, not closed doors. Open hearts in place of fear. How can we achieve that in the midst of so much conflict and unrest? Well, maybe the turmoil and polarities we see now are the birthing pains of a global awakening. Extremes of separation and self-interest are being lived out so that eventually they will dissolve as people become more aware. Self-centered power will be transformed to the power of sister/brotherhood and equality. In spite of current evidence to the contrary, I believe in this possibility, and there are many who are living their lives aligned with that transformation.
We have to stop allowing opinions to divide us, though, and instead just look in each other’s eyes and see commonality. We are all born, and we all die. We are here for a short time on Earth—why not treat those moments as precious and our neighbors as kindred spirits? It may seem like we are all on separate journeys, competing within belief systems for survival. The truth is that all beings on this planet are linked at the soul level. We are one in ways that defy the mind and can only be understood when we each let go of the struggles of self and instead rest in the peace of community. “We” is always stronger and more resilient than “I.” Amongst all the beliefs claiming our attention now, the one that may most effectively cut through the illusion of difference is loving-kindness and compassion. May we learn to live that together.
“Compassion lets us wash into each other like watercolors.”—Mark Nepo