Politically neutral? Now?
I know people have different viewpoints, but I just don’t understand how people can sit around and do nothing when there is so much at stake politically. I don’t care what side you’re on; this is the time to be expressing your opinion and taking a stand! I am getting disgusted by people I love, and I don’t want to be. Can you help me understand why some of the smartest people I know are doing nothing in this political climate?
See if this helps. What’s happening on the political scene is merely a reflection of what is happening inside us. We are acting out our internal battles externally. At an early age, we learn to hate our weaknesses, fear our lack of control over the world, and suppress the true nature everyone tells us must be bad. If we do not reconcile these things within ourselves, we are doomed to enact this internal drama on an external stage.
What if, instead of turning to point our finger at someone else when trouble arose, we chose instead to look inside ourselves to find how that conflict is manifesting there? Once we own it as a personal issue, it’s difficult to be completely without compassion or understanding of the “other side.”
This doesn’t mean that you don’t hold a political point of view; nor does it mean you don’t stand up for what you believe in. It simply means that each of us can acknowledge that what is manifesting in politics is first played out in our own inner worlds.
Practically, what does this mean? It means recognizing the parts of us that are weak, and the parts of us that are impatient with that weakness. It means ’fessing up to our desire for control and our need for unconditional love. It means understanding that each individual has his own version of this battle going on inside him. Addressing the internal issues takes work of a different kind. It’s about acknowledging our various “parts” and reconciling them with love and compassion. In the process, we develop compassion for those whose inner battles are apparent.
That said, the political work is also important. Our fates are bound together, and it behooves us to reach common ground with one another. But taking a different approach—one that endeavors to meet the “other” with an open mind and heart—would be useful. Maybe your friends are waiting for this possibility to emerge. Might you be the one to lead such a movement? Might one of your friends? It’s certainly been done before, and it can happen again.
There are generally three approaches to dealing with conflict: the “tools and strategies” approach, which looks at problems logically and dispassionately; the “peace and harmony” approach, which tries to find common ground and looks for win-win solutions; and the “emotional honesty” approach, which demands responses from others. All of these approaches have merit; it’s only when we use one exclusively and have disdain for the other two that we get ourselves into trouble.
Sometimes, when people accustomed to the “peace and harmony” approach see too much conflict, they don’t know how to enter the fray. When a “tools and strategies” person sees a whole lot of emotion being expressed, she might decide things have already gone too far downhill for her involvement to make a difference. And someone who is into “emotional honesty” may get frustrated when people start talking about compromising their most deeply held values.
In other words, there are lots of possible explanations. At crisis points like these, we need to do two things: search our own hearts and minds for that which is being reflected by our societal woes; and find a place of compassion for our friends, neighbors, and even our “enemies,” because solving our collective problems is going to take mutual respect and understanding, above all else.
“When there is no enemy within, the enemy without cannot hurt you.” —African Proverb
Prudence Tippins has been honored to answer the community’s thoughtful, earnest, and titillating questions. She will continue to support and connect people seeking wholeness at the Calliope Center for Reflection and Renewal.
Last bit of advice: “World peace starts with inner peace. Look within for answers; for change; for love.”