I watched the news yesterday and today and again I am in shock. I don’t recognize my country anymore. The ability to have civil discourse is dead.
There was a time I loved talking with people who felt differently about things I cared about. I found if I listened with empathy toward their feelings and ideas more often than not, they would do the same for me. A magic thing would happen. I always learned and my views on issues would expand.
There have been times in my life when I was involved in highly charged community issues like local education. I held on to my beliefs but I’ll never forget spending time with a fellow who had different beliefs. After a heated public meeting had ended, I risked actually sitting with this man and listening to his views, seeking to understand them and why he held these beliefs. I’d stopped fighting. After the hour or so we’d spent together was over I came away a changed man. I really understood his views and because I took that step, he’d done the same. That brought us to a place of compassion. We no longer wanted to fight but work together to achieve something better than either one of us, on our own, could have done.
That reminds me of something Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.”
All you politicians regardless of whatever “side” you’re on need to heed these words. The same goes for their supporters. I know as surely as the sun will come up today that love is the most powerful force on this planet. If we could stop for just a moment and look at how Christ used love to fight the issues of his day, we’d really learn a much better way of being.
Conflict is a natural part of humanity. We thrive on it. If we didn’t the movies I’ve made and books I’ve written would have found no-one to see or read them. Conflict isn’t evil, what is evil is how we choose to deal with it. Gandhi also said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
These words aren’t a bumper sticker. These are the words that freed a nation without a single shot being fired.
The news shows us. I ask, how well is our current approach to conflict resolution is working? Instead of speaking from our hearts and listening with the same we thrive on propaganda ridden TV ads and poorly reported news stories. We no longer take the time to sit with someone and listen until we understand them. We just get angry and dig in knowing we are right and they are wrong. When there is no empathy, no love what’s left is hate.
Where is our Gandhi today? Who of us will have the courage to stand up, not to hate others and fight them but work for change like we haven’t even imagined yet. Who of you has the guts to use love instead of hate? Who of you cares enough for this country to get off Facebook and actually meet someone for coffee so you can practice listening to other views and learn. This is they only way we’ll find peace.
Why have we lost the ability to listen with our hearts. Does it hurt so bad to truly seek to understand the views of someone you disagree with? What are you afraid of? Having your mind changed?