Monday, November 23, 2009

Political divide

As a Nation, we have allowed ourselves to be divided along political lines to the point that debate has been replaced by hateful rhetoric. Once we identify ourselves with a particular ideology we often select the information sources that reinforce the idea that the “other” side is just plain wrong. We stop looking deeply at issues believing that the information we gather through so called news services lets us stay current on the events of the day.

This fact is well understood by our political leaders who work hard to perpetuate this division allowing them to stop short of providing the facts behind their actions. Political protests on both sides’ highlights the fact that this division brings out a vitriolic hatred for anyone with opposing views and we spend our days mired in hatred rather than the facts of an issue.

I have purposely not spoken about political issues here because it would take away from the message of the blog. Those who know me also know that I am deeply involved in the political process. This is why this blog has been somewhat neglected recently. Being positive and political at the same time is a difficult balance. It is not a balance I have mastered.

The mission of my political work is to bring people together to dialog about the issues that are important to each of us whether we realize it or not. Only by putting partisan hatred aside and beginning to speak and listen to each other will we be able to understand what is happening while we argue. There are destructive forces at work in the halls of the World’s governments which have nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans.

Do your best to look at every issue carefully and resist the temptation to draw a conclusion based on a letter following a person’s name. This message is not always well received when I speak but I know that as individuals, we are a lot more alike than different. Most of us want the best for all, leaving us the choice to remain mired in hatred or opening our minds to find common ground. The answers do not come from government, it comes from us. Propaganda that fits our ideals is still propaganda.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Accepting Yourself

How much of your own life have you missed? The simple act of living takes us away from so much of what lies underneath our surface self. Over the course of our lives, the world continuously thickens the shell around our true nature. Traumas from childhood, responsibility for others, money troubles, difficult relationships, etc… create the armor we build around ourselves thinking it will protect us from further harm. Sadly, much of this ends up shielding ourselves from ourselves, preventing us from being truly happy.

Our culture or perhaps human nature leads us to define ourselves based on external standards. Growing up you may have heard; “You should be more like him.” Or; “Why don’t you act more like her.” Inadvertently, this is often how the process of loosing ourselves begins. There is seldom any malice in the actions, just well intentioned caretakers trying to help us learn to fit into society. Those charged with caring for us, especially when we are young, are really just trying to save us from the pain of not fitting in to a highly structured culture.

I am not advocating anarchy or implying that societies do not need rules and certain social norms to function, they do. It is simply that by allowing ourselves to be blinded to our true nature through believing that we must be “just right” that we rob ourselves of our own love. Measuring up to the ridiculous stereotype of what we should be like, look like, act like, think like, is impossible. We all have flaws that cannot be simply airbrushed like a cover shot of a magazine.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I wish I was thinner, taller, faster, etc?” My guess is that everyone has at one point answered, yes. A yes answer does not make you abnormal. We all do this several times a day in one form or another. Our problems arise when we begin to identify ourselves with our faults rather than our true nature. “I’m an angry person.” “I’m a sad person.” “I’m a fat person.” Is this really all you are? None of these are who we are inside. Each is a condition that we have learned to identify ourselves with.

Self love and acceptance is the only way to find true inner happiness. How wonderful it would be to look at yourself and drop the negative story. Opening our heart to ourselves lets the light of the world shine into the spaces we have kept so dark. Self love is not narcissism. Narcissistic people use the false love of themselves as a defense against their inner suffering. True self love is not selfish.

An often quoted teaching of the Buddha reads; “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”.