I really have been rather surprised at how intensely I feel about this political election. I usually live under a rock when it comes to the news and politics. I just have seldom wanted to know what is going on unless I can effect a positive change. I have to matter. I have to be a positive influence. I have to bring at least a little bit more good into this world. Hmm. I guess I should add that to my 100 Things list.
The more I hear, the more I read, the more I see, the more upset I have become. Our society, our way of life, has become so fast paced, so self-absorbed, so dog eat dog. We have to make more money faster (now just to hold on to what we have). We have to have more things. The bogus concept of “compassionate conservatism” indicates that the right sees vulnerability to attack on this very point. Our society, our leadership, is more concerned with money and power than with people. We as a nation are losing our soul.
Rather than trying to sincerely and substantively help people, bring people together, put people first, attend to the very real needs of people, our society seems to be more and more preoccupied what I am calling “dismissive condemnation.” Dismissive condemnation is the perfect diet for the soul: You can have or do what ever you want without feeling guilty about it in the least! I see dismissive condemnation at so many levels.
Here’s a simple example from my little world: When a child repeatedly fails to do his/her homework, it is much easier for a teacher to say the child is lazy, which is a moral issue for which the teacher then has no responsibility. It’s far more difficult to set aside the time to understand the child, to know the child, to comprehend the multitude of reasons why the child appears lazy, when laziness may in fact be the farthest thing from the truth.
Perhaps the child comes home to an empty house and has to prepare dinner, feed the younger children, clean up, wash the clothes, and tend to a bed-ridden dying uncle in the basement because the single parent has to work 2 jobs to come any where near paying the mounting health care bills. (I didn’t just make that up.)
In other words…
it’s easier to condemn the child for laziness so that we can dismiss our responsibility to empower the child to attain academic success. If the child is lazy, then we don’t have to do anything but tell everyone how lazy the child is. We can walk away guiltless. If we know the child is in need, serious, complex, difficult, demanding need, then more is required of us if we are to behave as good people do.
I believe that rather than investing in understanding people, especially when we perceive them to be different from ourselves, we as individuals and as a nation are taking the easy way out, the selfish way out, the cowardly way out. We condemn them. We exploit them. And when we do not agree with someone, we do the same thing. It’s just easier because it requires far less of us!
As individuals and as a nation we are much too quick to condemn. We don’t even stop to think about it any more. Dismissive condemnation is a trained reaction. Rather than seeking to do the hard and challenging work of real communicating, we lash out sound-bites and then disengage. Rather than taking the time to find common ground and build from there, we do that typically American thing, we become angry and then violent. We become verbally abusive. We de-humanize. We lash out. We bomb. We invade.
To make dismissive condemnation a right wing conservative problem to which they need attend would be a terrible disservice to goodness. Dismissive condemnation is deeply rooted in the American conscience. We all do it, including myself. This isn’t a right or left, republican or democrat problem. This is a people problem exacerbated by greed and selfishness. Are we at such a sad place in this nation today that we have to be greedy and selfish to just survive??
Priorities need to be revisited. We need to stop saying we believe something unless we start living it. Before we are quick to condemn using the sacred writings as a vehicle for condemnation, let us be quick to practice the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
A good friend of mine in a high paying position with the promise of even greater advancement has recently, much to the shock and horror of his colleagues, chosen to step down the company ladder (rather than continue climbing up it) because he believes he needs to attend to his own soul. He needs to live what he says is important to him: his family, those he loves. He wants to spend more time giving back rather than just taking. He is doing that powerful and beautiful thing: aligning his thoughts, his actions, and his heart in his journey to truth. He is being his beliefs, doing them, making them reality. Rather than dismissing his truth by just talking about doing it one day or feeling guilty for not doing it, he has chosen to actually live what he believes.
Rather than doing everything we can to “get our way,” we need to set aside the time and space to “find our way.” Our journeys are too short to just occupy space and have weight (matter as material things). We need to matter: make a difference, a positive and caring one.