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As I write this mind-chatter, an ethereal soundtrack is plugged into my right ear, promising to inspire creativityâ€¦and more importantly, tranquility. Iâ€™m keeping my left ear unplugged â€“open to options should I need to respond to outside stimuli or/and demands. Always with one eye open, and one ear alert, is a childhood habit that is reserved for another post on another day….
Mostly, my focus today is set on being non-judgmental. I breathe deeply into that right ear intake of promised tranquilityâ€¦and I remember to stay neutral for purposes of writing this post and recording it as a podcast, while simultaneously working my way through the underbrush and underbelly of this highly charged U.S. political season in what threatens to once again become the Divided States of America (round two).
I smile, because those who know me, know that stifling judgments is not a practice that comes without cause. A challenge of life seems to be to not judge others as â€œwrongâ€ while I am both â€œright and left,â€ in my political perspectives….
In my defense, I’m fairly consistent in striving to see both sides of any coin, at being fair, even as I am aware of my own partiality to my own perspective. Particularly, during American elections, I work hard at not screaming my opinions and judgments onto the pages and from rooftops when I observe what I judge to be insanity. But then, I imagine some folks witnessing Adolph Hitler may have fought similar urges for primal screaming during the days of the Nazi regimeâ€¦while still others lined up to support and feed the momentum of a dis-ease which eventually claimed the lives of up to 20 million people. (Believe it or not, this paragraph, although written as a stream of consciousness, still flows restrained, and itâ€™s laced with evidence of the struggle to dam my opinions and judgements. No argument: Iâ€™m failing miserably.)
There are at least two sides to consider, and in the last U.S. Presidential election, the sides were black and white. We can all pretend otherwise, but we would be denying a fact that has gone down in history. A black man has now been the president of the United States, and the result is that the line of delineation became more pronounced than ever before in history. Not since the 1960’s and into the 1970’s was race the source of such violent social issues. It was only when, “we the people” elected a black leader…that the bigots came out of the congressional woodwork like roaches escaping a newly fumigated tenement. Only these roaches were far more dangerous, because they could stop any progress. And they did stop a lot of progress. One can only imagine what could have been accomplished had there been support in the White House. And one can only imagine the tremendous personal toll that exposure to the stress of being an African-American president surrounded by non-supporters may have taken on the president. His hair has certainly turned white!
I’ll be honest, I really thought some crazed head-razored young white guy would take down our first African-American president. And now, after almost two terms as president, I can relax a bit, and turn my attentions to the fact that more young black men are killed in this country by other young black men than by any other race. And that means there is still an enormous amount of work to be done around issues of poverty, education, racism, and opportunities for all.
As the story goes, I’ve always told my daughter that a black man would need to be in the White House before a woman would ever be considered. When it happened, she came to remind me of my prophetic words. And now, we are at round two, albeit premature to assume the latter is an absolute â€“that a woman will actually be the President of the United States. Time will tell. History or herstory will tell….
Itâ€™s hard â€“no, itâ€™s impossible for me to understand how others do not feel and think as I do â€“that we are not the United States of Bigots, Sexists, Homophobics, Misogynists, Racists, Religious Zealots, Selfish, Fear Mongers, War Mongers: That collectively, we are decent people who care about the human race and about the Earth, that we are dedicated to ensure that what we leave for others when we are long gone is not a barren wasteland; that we are not greed-led, hate-led, ego-led authoritarians bent on ruling the world with a club or sword or nuclear bomb.
Yes, I am so far left that I make left look right, and I fully own that about me. I DO believe in equality for all, and in a humanistic perspective, which comes from a place of love and not from fear. That’s the value system of clients I work with, and those values are similarly shared by my closest friends. And still that stance gives me no status to overlord others with my opinionsâ€¦.
This political season in America, has me reigned back, like a ferocious lioness chained by social mores that are beginning to breakâ€¦and looking with hunger at the possibilities of a future either progressive or digressing. Others fear what may happen when the status quo is only a refuse pile of worn-out links. What then? What does a world look like if there is a woman or worse in the White House? (A slippery opinion has worked its way into this otherwise neutral prose; they pop up without warning.) I fear from two sides of the perspective, in a lesser of evils way, as opposed to a compulsion of truly supporting one or the other choice. My choice is no longer viable, like elderly eggs of a womanâ€™s womb, the choice is limited by limiting circumstances.
I am a feminist, a humanist, who only once disagreed with Gloria Steinem, when she declared, that as women and members of the National Organization of Women (N.O.W.), we must get behind Hillary Clinton as the choice for President of the United States. Another slippery opinion sneaks in here declaring back to Steinem, that we must never vote based on gender, race, sexual preference, religion, that we are better served to move our awareness and bias beyond those limitations and beyond our opinion. We simply must do what is best in the big picture for humanity. That may or may not mean voting for a woman. I am not here to dictate, only to voice yet another opinion that like the shortcomings of Affirmative Action, we must look beyond gender and at the whole picture of capability: Who is best qualified based on experience and not on ‘isms’ such as sexism, ageism, racism, etc., even as those isms are reversed….
My unsolicited opinion was that Bernie Sanders was the better choice, was without soils of past career stains, would have been a smart choice as leader of the free world. And when Senator Sanders gracefully removed himself from the contest, I wept, and I wondered why the wiser decision of combining, rather than dividing the camps wasn’t made the obvious option. Sanders/Clinton would have been practically a shoe-in landslide for even the most conventional folks. Again, in my opinion….
“If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isnâ€™t it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?” ~Gloria Steinem
My mother once mentioned that she would never support the notion of having a woman in the White House in the capacity of anything other than First Lady, for fear that a womanâ€™s menstrual cycle in proximity to the nuclear annihilation button could result inâ€¦well, annihilationâ€¦. If she were still alive to see the possibility, no doubt my mother would be relieved to know that Hillary is probably past that point in her hormone fluctuationsâ€¦. She wouldnâ€™t have voted for Trump, but I am not sure she would have supported Hillary either. Whatâ€™s clear as I write this, is that although I do not share my motherâ€™s fears, the source of my tendencies towards judgments is clear. Iâ€™m guessing the source of my daughterâ€™s is also clear. The apples of opinion fall at the base of the family tree. It is up to us to look beneath the brush to discover our own truths, rather than reciting the rhetoric of others.
History depicts a two-hundred-year shelf life for world leadership. Great nations have come and gone over the history of the world. That is a fact, by the way, and not an opinion. The truth is as easy to see as a Google search or library away. A few minutes of perusing the pages of all once-great nations is a fabulous elixir for awakening the masses. America is not guaranteed always and forever being the “greatest nation,” any more than humans are guaranteed being the most “intelligent species” on the planet. Nor is it implied here that either of those two statements is necessarily the truth for everyone, in every nation, in every species. For all we know, intelligence could have long ago left the human species and we have just not yet recognized that loss….
Without consciousness and participation, we may go about a self-absorbed microcosmic daily life with little regard for the bigger picture. We may even consider ourselves to be well-informed, having access to twenty-four-hour “news” flow. And we may never question the authority and the source of the so-called news that we are fed and swallowing, now twenty-four-hours per day.
So all of this got me to thinking that I would issue myself a challenge: To simply be aware of how many opinions I have during a single day, and then during a week.
And I issued that challenge to my clients, to my social media friends, and to anyone interested in playing with me. If you haven’t yet seen it, watch the video below for the challenge, all the while understanding that there will be no test or judgment; that you participate only to increase your own awarenessâ€¦.
Others will doubtlessly not agree with all your opinions. And you, will doubtlessly not agree with those of others. My intention is not to change that. I am not here to try to sway your political choices, to alter your beliefs, or to judge you or give you an open invitation to judge me or others. I only offer this challenge of increased self-awareness as a tool for opening the channel to possible exchange between the ways we knee-jerk our biased spiel out onto others without conscious awareness of where our own opinions spew from.
- Are those opinions something handed down from one generation to the next?
- Are the roots of each opinion and judgment planted in culture, race, gender, religion, era, etc., or are they actually well-researched and fact-based?
- Whose voice do you hear in your head when you consider the original source of your opinions?
- Have you ever questioned the source of your beliefs?
- Are those values, beliefs and opinions authentically yours?
The batteries in my android have died, and the tranquil flow into my ear is no longer taming my expressions, and so I leave you with this video, and a week or a day, to play in the increased realizations of how many opinions bubble up in you. Remember, those opinions are not labeled as either negative or positive, or right or wrong. The point is only to notice, to gain a modicum of self-awareness before November, and forever afterâ€¦.
Let me know in the comment section, what awareness comes up for you, if you feel like sharing. And I will do the same. I can already share that far more opinions come out of me than I ever recognized prior to making this video. It’s not to say that I will have fewer opinions, or will make fewer judgments as a result, only that I will be ever more acutely aware of what comes bubbling up and out as my reactions. In that arena, I do expect I’ll be making some more conscious, if not better, choices to listen more, and to react less. One can only hope, and mindfully practice. And by doing so, perhaps we can mend the divided states of America and indeed, repair the resultant separation from the rest of the globe.
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The Divided States of America