Ripples #905: Pieces of Truth.

Ripples #905: Pieces of Truth.
Sept 26, 2016


People generally assume that differences between two parties create the problem. Yet differences can also lead to a solution.
-Eric Liu and Scott Noppe-Brandon, shared by Kelsey in Fond du lac, WI


Everybody is right. More specifically, everybody has some important pieces of truth, and all of those pieces need to be honored, cherished, and included in a more gracious, spacious, and compassionate embrace.
-Ken Wilber, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI


I’m pretty sure that folks here in the U.S. have noticed that we are inching closer to Election Day. I know I am not the only one who wonders if the “us versus them” dynamic has reached unprecedented and possibly unsafe new heights this time around. I don’t think it actually has, but it sure does seem like it lately.

Many of my connections tend to hang out on the more liberal/progressive end of the political spectrum (like I do), while others are either on the more conservative end or hover more in the middle (sometimes because they aren’t always sure what to think, or because different issues find them leaning in different directions). Thanks to this incredibly diverse set of voices in my social media newsfeed, I have a somewhat unique vantage point in observing, listening, and engaging in politics, social issues, etc. And I’ve concluded that we have a greater-than-we-realize tendency to label those who look at the world differently than us as either Dummies (who aren’t informed), Meanies (who don’t care) or Crazies (who aren’t rational).

From whichever vantage point you’re sitting, it is true that people on the “other side” sometimes don’t seem informed about some issues, as compassionate towards some people, nor as rational about some topics. To be fair, I think it is crucial to keep in mind that the folks on “our side” are not always as informed, compassionate, and rational as they could be, either. We can all be a little dumb (uninformed), mean (uncaring) and crazy (irrational) at times–it’s just that we tend to cut ourselves and our friends a bit more slack so it doesn’t SEEM quite as bad when OUR side says something unreasonable.

Over the past few months I’ve been talking about the “conjugation of compassion” and how we often extend caring and empathy more generously towards people we know and have a basic amount of trust and respect while we are sometimes considerably stingy with our compassion when it comes to people we don’t have much trust and/or respect for.

In some ways it makes sense–there are times when “those people” have earned the low levels of positive regard we hold towards them. At the same time, I’m concerned that the rancor and incivility has reached such a deafening level so that there is almost no chance for us to influence each other any more. We’ve all covered our ears and are just shouting our own truth without even listening to what others are trying to tell us about their concerns and their version of their truths.

I don’t think it is too late for us to stop for just a moment and practice the worthwhile task of catching our collective breaths and remembering the humanity that really does exist on both sides of our “primarily two party system” (and I fully acknowledge that many people wish we had more room for more voices/parties!). If we were able to make more generous distinctions between what we hear our foes actually saying and what we think they are trying to communicate, it might be easier for us to find common ground and at the same time help us build better talking points that our opponents might be more open to considering or at least acknowledging.

I really, really (REALLY) want these Ripples emails and social media splashes to remain sources of positive energy and useful insights for *all* who want to receive them; so instead of trying to tell you who to vote for or what to think/feel/do about certain candidates or issues, I’ll instead say this: I hope you can develop the patience to remain as calm as possible and as open as possible and to be as informed and caring and rational as possible as we move into the final weeks of the campaign. It may seem like all you hear lately is a bunch of Dummies and Meanies and Crazies; take a deep breath and see if you can look past the first impression and see that lots of those people are simply flawed human beings who care deeply and are looking at candidates and issues from a specific angle that has left them unwilling and/or unable to see the bigger picture. And much of what appears uninformed, uncaring, and/or irrational might be more accurately described as the palpable fear and frustration of folks who feel utterly lost and left out. Let’s do what we can to pause and catch our breath so we can bring our best self to providing information and compassion and reason to the table, mkay?

I’m in if you are.


The Ripples Guy
p.s. I know this is longer than a one minute read. I try so hard to keep these brief, but sometimes stuff needs to be said; ya know?

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