Our world has many separate parts that interact to maintain our wholeness. The reigning principle that holds us together is homeostasis, a tendency toward balance and stability. When one part of our world becomes extreme other parts of our world become extreme in the opposite direction in a compensatory effort to restore balance.
Currently, our world has devolved into such an extremist state of tenuous balance, with volatile groups expressing deep opposition to one another. The ability to appreciate the needs and perspectives of others in an effort to restore peaceful equilibrium is lost to our current circumstance.
Suspend judgment. In such time of extremism, all cling to the one-sidedness of their individual or group positions. The truth appears radically self-evident; the “other’s” view is clearly distorted and wrong. Emotion intensifies to convince, defend, and attack. Reason is stretched beyond reason. In fact, reason is one side of a pair of opposites, deeply suspect to many.
Realize that all the opposition outside ourselves courses equally through our inner selves. Here we can contribute to our own inner balance, as well as the greater world’s, by inwardly facing the one-sidedness of our own ego positions. Even the most contentious positions encapsulate some grain of truth. Our ego is charged to use its analytic and feeling capacities to find the value and necessary place for all parts of the self and the world.
Outwardly, we do well to not fall prey to blame and hate, as these reactions simply further and intensify the divide. Though we must stand firm to who we truly are, upholding our beliefs and values, we are equally free to feel compassion for all. Compassion is directed love energy, where all are acknowledged as legitimate parts of the whole.
Compassion can be expressed through civility. Regardless of the intensity of our beliefs or feelings we can treat each other with respect. This is an enormous task in these times of extremism where many say and do things that evoke strong visceral reactions within the self. Nonetheless, we can all take up the challenge to resist getting taken over and acting out our rageful impulses, verbally or otherwise. This act of containment keeps ego control above water, not causing further damage. Being civil may not result in a kind response, but it will at least not further inflame.
Next, the responsibility is to care for the self and the intense emotion suppressed within. Allow the self release in total private. A brisk walk, deep breathing and, yes, even throwing stones may be warranted. Once the emotional charge has diminished, reflect deeply on the source of inner activation. Something important is being revealed to the self in the emotional reaction. Know thyself, love thyself.
Love the part of the self that feels victimized, betrayed, or disempowered. Although you may choose to have no relationship or engagement with the triggering “other,” find compassion for them within the self, perhaps simply seeing them as a fellow human being struggling with human life. At that level we are all one.
Upholding civility is the bridge we have now, in these times of raging rivers that threaten to flood our civilization. Join in supporting this bridge, through action with civility.
Civilly and affectionately yours,