I was speaking with a friend the other day about how things have changed since February. We agreed that we seem to be more fractured than ever with everyone’s beliefs all over the place. In the past, it seemed like we were solidly aligned with, say a political party, but now feel split between the ideas of each party. Even wondering who to vote for, which wasn’t questioned in the past.
At first, I was surprised, but more and more I’m finding less common ground with my closest friends. Nothing can be assumed any more. The issues that are dividing and separating us are caught up in strong emotions.
I hung up from our conversation with a feeling of sadness that we were drifting apart. The sense of connection seems to be diminished. It’s not the first time this has happened either. In the past six months, it’s occurred with several friends. I was left in each situation wondering if we would stay friends or not. And as I sat with the feeling of loss, loneliness, and isolation, I sensed a fragility to my relationships. I realized that I had, just like so many others, based my friendships on shared ideologies. I wouldn’t have ever said that was true, until the moment I had that insight.
Things are changing and relationships are shifting. This is another aspect of the breaking down that creates the space for something new to emerge. It came to me in a conversation with another friend that we are being called to go deeper. To not identify with our beliefs and be so emotionally invested in them that we see them as a foundation for connection. This is common knowledge to those of us on the spiritual path, but to live it is another thing entirely. There’s even a meditation practice in which we view our thoughts as clouds passing in the sky in order to realize that they aren’t who we are.
Of course, the ego doesn’t agree with that, but it seems as though the times are asking us to move beyond our old ways of being to something that is truer. If we can let go of what we think as defining our identity and embrace the heart and soul, then maybe we can unite and connect at a deeper level. Can we view those with different beliefs like eccentric family members who we love despite their eccentricities?
I was on the receiving end of that once. It was in a job where I felt different from those I worked with, but I had this sense that they loved me like a quirky aunt with unusual interests. It was such a nice feeling to be accepted as I was, not just accepted, I felt loved. Can we do that for everyone?
When we feel emotionally overwhelmed by someone else’s beliefs, can we question what story we are telling ourselves about the situation? Our emotions may be transformed by sitting with them, until we are in the heart. Sometimes, once we are in that space, we can see the situation anew and gather insights into what motivates the other.
I’m noticing with my friends that if we are able to withstand the differences between us, we are moving into a place of deeper love and connection with each other. It may be easier to begin to practice with our friends and family, then we might consider moving beyond them to those with strongly held opposing views. Not to determine who is right or wrong, but to love them exactly as they are, like an eccentric relative.
How else can we begin to bridge the divide and create more peace if not through a heart that unites? Yours and mine.