“United we stand: Divided we fall”
Heard that one before? It’s a statement that dates back seemingly to Aesop, but Americans have stood by this credo since our inception as a nation in the late 1700s. Throughout our nation’s history we have been divided in belief and agenda across a myriad of issues. The post-election climate we find ourselves in is no exception to our history and no exception to the truth of these words.
Can you count how many times you’ve seen someone on social media exclaim “unfollowing!” “unfriending!” (or a blatant “screw you guys!”) over the past few weeks? Yeah, me neither. It’s an epidemic.
And while I stand whole-heartedly behind the need to remove oneself from unnecessarily unpleasant circumstances, walling ourselves off from those who disagree with us might not be the best answer. It’s not changing anyone’s mind or creating any understanding between parties for us all to just insult and isolate each other.
We need to communicate. Compassionately and patiently (even though this is really freaking hard).
I feel the need to make an obscure movie reference here… bear with me…
In the 2001 Horror/Thriller “13 Ghosts” a character is killed off by being sliced through his middle by a vertically descending pane of glass. The dude is just standing in a hallway one minute, and in the next minute the front and back halves of his body begin to slide down their own sides of the glass and crumple to the floor.
Standing one moment. Divided and fallen the next.
OK, I told you it was an obscure reference — but do you get what I’m saying here? We can’t just slam a wall in between ourselves and our community, friends and family. No one gets what they want, and nothing gets fixed.
My advice? (And for the record the advice that I’m trying to follow myself)
Set aside some time to really think about what you think you need to articulate to the people on the other side of this divide. Then think carefully about what you think their perspective is – what they would try to articulate to you about what they’re standing behind. And develop a dialogue on even ground with them.
Preferably not over the internet. Body language and voice inflection make such a difference. I can hold your hand, look meaningfully into your eyes, and show that I’m genuinely listening to you if we’re sitting together. But I just gently laid my hand and looked with meaning at my laptop as I posted this and it’s not getting across to you any more than FaceBook comments spilled at the spur of the moment are getting across to those you’re commenting to.
We’re in for a rough time, America. We are divided right now and we need to work on that. We face a lot of difficulty as a nation.
I don’t think I have a conversation with a single person here who discovers I’m an American and doesn’t ask about our political circumstances. The world is watching us, the world feels for (and fears for) us.
We cannot divide and segregate and allow ourselves to fall to this struggle.
Oh yeah, the yoga… the physical yoga…
You may recall me mentioning (or have heard it from tons of other yoga teachers) that the physical practice was designed to prepare our bodies to be able to sit for meditation. So do that! Do this practice, and sit in contemplation of compassion and communication and connection with your fellow man. (Alliteration seriously not planned but I’m just going with what my fingers are spilling at this point.)
(by the way, if you have anything to say or want to talk about how this election has impacted you, your feelings of safety, your relationships, anything at all — I’m a safe space.)