Actions, conversations needed to bridge the divides

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We have a new presidential election looming large ahead of us and who knows what lies ahead. Whatever it is, it will no doubt be interesting. These are times of change, and at times heart wrenching events have made this past summer one to remember for quite awhile, if not forever, for us as citizens of this country.

We have witnessed the anger, grief, horror, sadness, and despair at the level of violence in this country between its citizens of color and law enforcement, not to mention the violence occurring in other parts of the world. As we struggle to digest, process, and come to terms with what is occurring, the most natural questions that arise are: What can we do? What can I do? How do we address the broken places in our culture and institutions? At times it appears that the center simply cannot hold. How can we collectively and individually contribute in a healing and beneficial way to the deeper and more authentic actions and conversations that are needed to begin to bridge the agonizing divides in our communities, our nation, and our world?

Our seven principles guide us and encourage us to discover and embrace the truth within ourselves—to look honestly at our own shadow side as well as to embrace the light of love that resides within each and every one of us. In this way we seek to raise our frequencies if you will, and to encourage others to do the same. We seek to create a chain reaction of compassion, empathy, safe spaces, and genuine, authentic community.

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Violence, hatred, racism, demonizing and blaming the other, and the fear that motivates all of these things, have no place in the world we envision and work towards on a daily basis. It is non-violence or non-existence for all of us on this planet. The threat is so very real now. We need to keep focusing on the world we want to create and realize that a new world is being born and the birth pangs that accompany this new world must occur. Growth at times means pain.

We also need to have the courage to recognize, name, and to stand against these forces that are afraid of the future, both within ourselves and in the institutions and systems in our public life. We need to do this together.

Here are just a few suggestions of what we can commit to:

• Educate ourselves about the structures and dynamics of privilege; about the ways in which both overt and implicit racism and bias continue to permeate our society; and about the ways we consciously or unconsciously participate in maintaining these structures and dynamics.

• Become more vigilant about our own tendencies to turn those with whom we disagree into the “other,” or to make sweeping negative generalizations about entire groups of people, and interrupting those tendencies every time we do notice them.

• Engage in a deeper conversation, especially with people we may see as different from ourselves — having the humility and the courage to inquire about, listen to, and care about their experiences and to share our own — seeking to discover and to lift up our shared humanity rather than to debate and to justify the “rightness” of our position.

• Maintaining a spiritual practice to reinforce and strengthen our resilience, and our connection to each other and ourselves and to keep this connection grounded in love.

• Be committed to serving and blessing others through our prayers and meditations, through our contemplations and inner compassion practices as well as through our engaging in outer actions in support of justice and peace.

May all of us treat others and ourselves with loving kindness. Let us be gentle with ourselves during this time. May we be as aware of our own prejudices and judgments as much as we are aware of those of others. May we provide and be a safe space for others and may we acknowledge and understand our humanity, our fear, and use this knowledge of ourselves to create a better world — together.

May we always honor the inherent worth and dignity that resides within all of us.