…By not holding to fixed views, the pure hearted one
Having clarity of vision, being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.
Karaniya Metta Sutta
Not holding on to fixed views has been more difficult than usual lately with the impending election. No matter where one turns, there is injustice, anger, hatred and ignorance. It’s so easy to fall into an “us versus them” mentality and objectify the other side. To wrap ourselves in a cloak of sensed justice and cover our own eyes to the humanity of those with an opposing view. We rally for the underdogs, yet turn our kindness away from those holding a view we disagree with.
It seems like the United States, and perhaps the world, has reached a heightened level of division. Many of us on the leftward side of politics thought that surely Biden would win by a landslide. And yet, as the polls began, the contenders were neck and neck. A sure win wasn’t so sure.
Which means that nearly half of the country felt that Donald Trump should continue to be president. Why?
I don’t really know, because I have failed to ask in any meaningful way. I believe many others have probably failed in this regard as well. If there is to be any healing to this country, both our leaders and our citizens, are going to have to start asking those questions of the “other side”.
I am by no means saying that these conversations should condone any acts of cruelty, hatred or injustice, but instead to seek out where we have failed in meeting the true needs of others.
I have a dear friend who I know is a Trump supporter, yet I’ve never really asked her why. Part of me fears that I wouldn’t be able to hear her answer without becoming emotionally activated, and getting into an argument. Yet this person is a friend, and I value our friendship above and beyond our respective views. Wouldn’t it be great if we could calmly compare our viewpoints and find our commonality?
I’ve been following Oren Jay Sofer, who incorporates mindfulness with Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication. He offers a process of having conversations with others that honors the humanity of both sides. In his book “Say What You Mean”, he describes a three-part process, which I am loosely paraphrasing here in my explanations:
- Lead with Presence: Can we pause to be in touch with our emotions and how they feel in the body as we begin the conversation?
- Come From Curiosity and Care: Can we put aside our views and truly listen for the needs of the other person as they share their perspective, with empathic acknowledgment of the shared experience of suffering with this other person?
- Focus on what matters: Can we identify the needs behind their statements and views?
If you find this approach interesting, please click on the link above to learn more. I am by no means an expert on this type of communication. There have been multiple failures in my previous attempts in this style of communication, yet there have been successes as well, and my hope is that the more I practice this, the better I will become.
So I hope that in the future, I can let go of my fixed view enough to have a conversation with my friend. I hope we all can have a conversation with someone who doesn’t share our views.
There is a quote by W. L. Bateman, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got”. Somehow we need to put our views down for just a moment to have these conversations, to form a bridge, or we will continue to be “born” into a world of division, hatred, and ignorance.
Thanks for reading, and as always, be well and peaceful.