Yes, there is a racial divide in our country. Yes, there is a socio-economic divide in this country. Yes, there is a political divide in this country. Yes, there is a moral divide in this country. Yes, there are ethnic divides in this country. Yes, there are gender divides in this country. Yes, there are tons of divides in this country. But divides are not just in this country; there are divides everywhere. Divides are normal; they are by divine design.
Think about it--yin/yang, black/white, masculine/feminine, up/down, in/out, left/right, conscious/unconscious, introvert/extrovert, big/little, hard/soft, open/closed, rich/poor, etc., etc., etc. We live in spectrums of dualities as we struggle daily to find relative balance in our lives. In terms of bullying, we also live in spectrums of duality. Do we bully? Indeed. But for most of us, not too much. Do we parent without bullying? Mostly yes, but sometimes no. No one is all-good, and no one is all-bad, and no one always gets things right; not you, not me, not parents, not anyone.
Ah, but there are those who think that they are always right. These folks become our interpersonal, social, economic and/or political dividers because they are terrified of being wrong. They have a personal need to prove the “other” wrong because it nurtures their fantasies that if they are right, and hold tightly to their perspectives, they will be. . .safe.
To clarify, we all have opinions, we all have biases. I prefer string beans to peas. I prefer kindness to cruelty, I prefer peace to war, and I prefer equality to hierarchical divisions. But the need to attack those who hold different perspectives from my own, or disparage those who are different from me, would only reveal my own inner limitations. And yes, it is a challenge to stay internally balanced and a uniter when flagrant insults to humanity are darkening my country, or unkind words are thrust at my soul.
For those who do need to be right most of the time, you will notice that their opinions are coated with anger, and sometimes those opinions are infested with rage. Ouch…whether that anger or rage comes at us on placards or in the intimacy of our relationships, it hurts. And here’s the snap trap for you: when someone is actively, angrily, and self-righteously sharing her opinion, it will trigger a defensive stance in you. If you are not conscious of this trap, you will become a divider too. We become, without consciousness of the snap trap, reflexive dividers dressed in the cloaks of our own vulnerabilities.
Why don’t we remain uniters and stay generous of spirit to those with whom we disagree? The answer is, as described above, because good/bad, yes/no, a lot/a little, black/white, up/down, etc., are the inherent daily duality choices we as humans are called upon to make.
In his wonderful article, “Robert Kennedy’s Plea—and Unmet Call to End America’s Violence—After the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” written for The New Yorker on April 4, 2018, Jeff Shesol reminds us that we have not come so far as we might think in ameliorating violence in America.
When Kennedy told his waiting crowd of supporters that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed, Mr. Shesol reports,
The crowd convulsed. People fell to their knees and wept. But as Kennedy spoke they became quieter and moved closer to him. “For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people,” he said, “I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my own family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
He went on to quote Kennedy further:
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who suffer in our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. . . Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of his world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Oh, how I long for more of us to so dedicate ourselves, daily. It’s not easy for any of us to look at our own dark attitudes and behaviors or acknowledge that we’ve been caught in emotional snap traps. But it is such a joy when our divider self is free to be a uniter self. Love, of course, is the greatest uniter of all time. Love, that wonderful feeling we get to experience when we choose wisely as we negotiate the dualities of our earth-bound lives.