Our world is possibly more polarized and divided than ever. Being a person that values diversity and inclusion, who strives to try on as many perspectives as possible, and who wants to build bridges, make connections, and expand beyond the limits of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, I find myself torn between groups of friends, afraid to speak my truth, afraid to be different. I find myself more temperate on some issues than friends from either side. I find my growing edges around racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, cultural appropriation, genocide, constitutional rights and freedoms, different opinions and experiences, and so many more, being engaged and challenged – willingly. And sometimes awkwardly and painfully. Almost always, I find myself passionately back in the middle – not on the fence, rather between the worlds.
Rarely have I ever considered a different perspective or point of view because the person sharing it started off by telling me how wrong mine was. My natural inclination to that sort of approach is resistance and defense. I remember once at Diana’s Grove, Cynthea Jones talking about getting a group of people to the energetic level you want them to be. “Start where they are,” she said. If they are loud and you want them to be quiet, start loud and progress to quiet. If they are quiet and you want them to be loud, start with a whisper and move to a shout. I don’t think that means start with hate and move to love – I think that means start with connecting, then with moving.
If someone tries to rip away the foundation of my belief system, pull the rug out from under me, or otherwise upend everything I stand on – I am going to cling to those beliefs and defend them. Because of that instinct I am less likely to entertain a different perspective. For that reason, I think between the worlds is a great place for healing to happen.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Extremism probably isn’t the antidote to extremism, even when it seems like the only natural response, or the only thing the ‘other side’ can, or will, understand.
I’m not suggesting we not dive deep, be passionate, thorough, or fully engaged. Extremism, to me, isn’t about how far we go; it’s about how narrow the road gets as we travel. For me, the ideal path gets wider and wider; more inclusive, more diverse. The path builds bridges, makes connections, and weaves a beautiful tapestry of understanding, compassion, and connection – even when it’s hard, even when I don’t want to. When common ground isn’t obvious and I want to attack or defend – ideally, though not always, I pause and keep looking. I can find a way to connect and through that connection, that crack – well, it’s where the light has a chance of creeping in.
(The following TED Talk, included as part of the blog post)
Photo credits: http://uumediaworks.tumblr.com & The High Priestess Tarot Card by Brigid Ashwood