Both of my parents served their countries during wartime and I lost relatives in the fighting. And I don’t think that was what either side had in mind when they marched into battle. While so many citizens are working toward egoless lives, modern politics has become largely distasteful in that most of us can sense that it is almost exclusively about ego (in the forms of either money or power).
Whereas we all were taught to view politics as collective, respectful, group decision-making on behalf of all, the fact is that it has become partisan, petty and it accomplishes very little other than dividing the populace and lining the pockets of those who participate. So how do we turn that into something more in alignment with our spiritual values and understanding?
What’s that joke from the French Revolution? “I must find out where my people are going so I can lead them!” We lead by enacting our values in our everyday lives. And I don’t mean passively—that’s about as good as nothing at all. We have to represent our values in our lives.
We can’t pretend we didn’t see family violence or corporate theft. We have to see others as valuable and ourselves as equal to them. We have to believe enough in ourselves as good people that we will have complete confidence when responding with our most loving, empathetic nature.
We have to set the tone for where we want to live. We have to establish the example. We have to wisely impart the value of differing perspectives and open minds. And we must also keep ours open, because many times in life we are attempting to manage separate, sometimes conflicting, yet valuable principles.
No one side has the answer to everything. If one approach worked we would surely have a super-successful example of it by now. None exists because each situation must be taken in its own context.
Sometimes a more aggressive, experimental, optimistic perspective would find a new solution previously unsought-after. Or maybe someone more conservative would play it safer and stick to what is known and thereby avoid what was destined to become a serious problem. Each has its advantages.
Several recent studies demonstrated that people who self-identify as conservatives are well-named. They prefer the known, and have greater fears about the unknown than do people who self-identify as liberals. In cave-man terms, one of these groups would have more members running off cliffs chasing pretty birds to eat, while the other would starve to death by refusing to leave their cave for fear of getting eaten by predators. Again, both groups starve or die because neither group has all the right answers. While one group invents the airplane the second will invent the parachute. We’re better to work together.
These days any group that gets 51% of a vote completely ignores half their constituents as though they don’t matter at all. That was not how the system was intended to operate. That’s how egos would operate it.
The public is looking for selfless politicians not ego-maniacal ones. We’re looking for the person who says, Okay, I know what the people like me would like to do, now tell me what the people like you would do and why? Then everyone’s needs would be considered and to whatever degree addressed, and the objective throughout would be to do the maximum amount of good to the greatest number of people, regardless of ‘sides.’
Obviously if something works for one person it won’t necessarily for another. But if we all take a turn being in each other’s shoes, we all win some and we all lose some. Since that would be inevitable in a democracy, we’re simply better to focus on the wins and accept the losses as an integral aspect of working together.
With each group competing for control we forgot what we were supposed to be doing. Politics is a service. The goal shouldn’t be to win, it should be to serve effectively. What happened to caring about each other? Why can’t we forgo judging someone in favour of complimenting them? Why do we need others to be wrong for us to be find a direction?Why can’t two people on opposite sides still each have a valid point?
As everyone’s ego struggles for confidence and trustworthiness and stability, many have accidentally built very rigid, certain, jagged judgments that keep us apart from the whole of creation. And if we feel this only applies to one side and not the one we’re on, we’re misunderstanding the innocence of our ‘opponent’s’ positions.
We need to make it clear in our life that the peace and the prosperity of all is our objective. If we see someone bullied, we need to speak up or act. If someone looks emotionally down, we can offer them a compliment or smile. And we can easily refrain from talking about others (to others or to yourself) about the downfalls of opposing ideas.
We should broaden our minds by truly trying to appreciate why a very large percentage of the society we live in actually thinks the opposite of what we do. We owe it to them as we would hope they would offer it to us –we must search through their interpretations for things we genuinely like and agree with.
We should consider other’s perspectives as valuable and learn from them. And we should use anything that works, from any group of solutions, from any camp; using anything that meets the overall needs of what we’re trying to accomplish. If we’ve never taken an idea from the ‘opposite’ side, then we can be assured that we’re lost.
Humility is what remains once ego is deserted. We should not assume we are correct, for we will learn more from assuming we are incorrect and re-proofing our current beliefs. We should aim to always respect others in the exact same way we’d like respect given to us.
Operating from that cooperative place, we will gain the strength necessary to carry the degree of wisdom that is required to competently contribute. Anything absolute is nothing more than ego played out on a political stage. And egos —our own or other people’s— won’t lead any of us anywhere we would want to go.
Respect other ideas. Embrace them as though they were your own. Expand yourself by including the perspectives of many kinds of people. Because that multi-faceted perspective is what the world calls wisdom and common sense.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.