Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, once famously said…
“Our maturity will be judged by how well we agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another, to care for one another, to cherish one another, and to seek the greater good of the other.”
The power of the Archbishop’s wisdom is severely obscured by our current political climate. Differing politics and points of view are tearing apart relationships - and even nations - at an alarming rate. Just the other day, I read a comment on social media which stated, “You can’t be a good person and support this politician!” While the passion behind comments like that is meaningful, the unhealthy expression of that passion with words like those is destructive… both for the receiver and for the sender. Whichever side of whatever political debate you find yourself on is much less important than one conspicuous truth: there are good people out there who simply become disoriented by being immersed in lies and negativity. Because their environment, friends, specific news channels, and political pundits stoke their deeply held fears, these individuals become ignorant and mislead about the consequences of their viewpoints and their vote. But being confused does not make you a bad person.
When someone takes a position that is insensitive and hurtful toward a segment of society, this person has caught a virus… a temporary illness of understanding. You wouldn’t disown someone for catching a cold; nor should you disown someone for their current lack of perception and their vulnerability to propaganda.
Nothing can be gained by trolling social media and trading insults with those who disagree with you. This usually drives them further away from the point you are trying to make. To repair the fault lines in our relationships and our nations, we must take responsibility for ourselves as a whole… a whole people… all the same species… evolving on the same planet. Ask any surgeon and they’ll tell you that no matter how different we look on the outside, once you get beneath the skin, we’re all the same. This is as true with our physical selves as it is with our spiritual selves. Whatever political mindset of the moment we have - however ignorant, naïve, hurtful, or even destructive it may be - we ALL have the capacity for love, greater compassion, and higher understanding.
We’re all in this game of life together. There is no “them” vs “us.” There is only “us.” We are one human family. When part of that family has a glaring opportunity to evolve in thought and to grow in compassion, it’s our opportunity to gently invite them to see further and to perceive the greater reality of our human interconnection. In short, we all need a “No Human Left Behind” policy. Cutting ourselves off from people who disagree with us stifles the evolution of humanity itself. This isn’t a case for surrounding yourself 24/7 with people who don’t currently share your values. But this is a case not to make an enemy of those people. Don’t taunt or scold them… simply present your points of view as an offering, not an ultimatum.
Be ready, though… many will be offended by your opposing politics and your differing points of view. They may hurl insults at you. But as our friend the Archbishop implicitly asks, will you choose to be the mature adult in the room with calm and class who seeks understanding and invites civil discussion… or will you choose to sink to the level of petty insults while feeding the fear and immature negativity that drives us all apart? The way you handle yourself in the face of disagreements with others will be your answer.
No matter how much we disagree, we all share a common humanity that irreversibly intertwines our destiny as one human society. It’s time that we all start messaging, speaking, and acting in ways that show we remember that.
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