What’s REALLY killing us -
Having an either/or mentality will bite you back every time. When making a decision, I often have to jog my thinking to realize there is a continuum of choices available to me. It allows me to consider many variables and access their importance in the bigger picture.
Black and white, us and them, is easier to navigate than a “grey” zone of possibility.
Americans have hardened into debilitating partisanship; each “side” has its own facts, its own reality, and no room for other perspectives. It has infected every aspect of our society and is just as deadly as the virus or lethal force – and to the survival of our democracy.
We’ve let politics alone define our beliefs and behaviors. When you tightly hold a position or identity, you become frozen. This has resulted in a dysfunctional government and paralyzed our ability to respond on many fronts.
Why are we in FAR worse shape in containing this pandemic – and the resulting economic fallout – than any other country in the world? We have examples from other countries and even New York that clearly demonstrates what’s needed to tame the beast. Our healthcare response has been defined by partisan politics.
The partisan pick-and-choose of scientific facts isn’t new - it happened with climate change denial. Facts ignored eventually become predictable realities. Forest fires, hurricanes, sea level rise, excessive rainfall and drought are just a few of the consequences we are starting to experience. Our current Covid reality is a result of ignoring science and public health officials, to the point of demonizing them.
There are some areas that only the central government can coordinate and take action to protect its citizens. This is true for climate change as well as the pandemic response. Unfortunately, right now that responsibility is being passed to state and local governments that don’t have the tools to handle it. We are literally dying for a consistent national policy that would bring some order to the chaos. There are now lawsuits between governors and mayors about implementing and enforcing safety measures to contain Corona – all based on political positions.
The either/or mentality creates false choices – health or the economy, police or anarchy, climate action or prosperity, immigration or jobs… We have been pitted against one another for the purpose of political and monetary gain. Why can’t we see the REAL enemy and work together? We don’t have to have the same beliefs; just similar goals, and civil discourse that will help explore all options and ideas to get us there.
Corona has exposed so much that is out of balance - socially, economically, and politically. It’s up to US to forge a new way forward to get out of this disastrous situation – and improve upon the work of our imperfect but goal-minded founders. This grand experiment in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a work-in-progress (emphasis on the work part).
In order for this to happen, we have to embrace the OTHER, as different as our perceived realities are. To work toward this, I start with a meditation practice called Tonglen. It involves identifying with the suffering of others and sending them unconditional love. I do this every evening, for different groups of people. Children in ICE detention camps separated from parents. People in the Syrian war zone. People who have lost loved ones to the virus; people who are sick from the virus. People who are experiencing racial violence. And yes, PEOPLE IN THE OPPOSITE POLITICAL PARTY. I send them all love in the hopes of assuaging fear and hatred. It uplifts me and helps me maintain humility and hope in these dark times.
Once we heal our partisan divide, we can move toward solving our mutual challenges!
Peace, love and healing -