How De-voted Are you? – In uncertain times we need dialogues, not demagogues

In the United States of Apartheid, where we are more separated and divided than not, we all need, more than ever, a safe place to speak and hear the truth, without fear. We cannot feel safe without a sense of community, and we need the truth in these ever more polarized times, where the truth is scarce and lies are common.

In the United States of Apartheid, where we are more separated and divided then not, we all need, more than ever, a safe place to speak and hear the truth, without fear.

America is built on fear; it is the ruling principle behind divide and conquer, shame and blame, separate and segregate. This and the dumbing down of America is largely propagated through monologues pushed out by spin factories, the media, and sub-standard public education. If we have no fear, we cannot be divided. If we feel safe, we have nothing to be afraid of, and feel free to speak our minds and hearts openly. Community is a caring way of life, and a way to provide a bulwark and counter-balance to the devastating ill effects of propaganda and divisive policies projected onto us by our power structure.

Community is based on dialogue, and when there is dialogue across the land, we choose to be free and to be part of something greater than ourselves. In some cases, we come to a point that we are willing, even happy, to do more for others in our community than we might get back in return; the start of caring community.

Bringing a New World to Life

We need to meet people where they are, and treat them as if they are already where they want to be. We must treat people like human beings with respect and loving kindness as caring individuals, not as objects, and see them not only as they are, but as they might wish to become, filled with promise and potential. We must relentlessly attempt to meet people different from us as they are, so we can move, beyond fear and hate, to love.

We need to meet people where they are, and treat them as if they are already where they want to be.

Love Opens Many Doors

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone–we find it with another.” ~ Thomas Merton

Possibility can come only out of love, and only more hatred can come out of hatred. Love opens many doors of possibility, and hate closes many doors of possibility. Out of abundance comes possibility and plenty, and out of scarcity comes poverty of possibility and paucity. With possibility of growth, positive change, transformation, and transcendent light, there is hope. Without it, there is only the probability of darkness, depression, and death.

The opposite of love is hate, of peace is violence, and of community is segregation. Hate leads to violence, and violence, or at least the threat of it, leads to segregation, or at least the enforcement of it. Love leads to peace, and both can lead to community, particularly caring community. Community, like segregation, does not happen automatically, nor is it a default–it is an active choice.

The choices we make dictate how we relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us. Our hearts ache for magical, soul-to-soul connections. Many of us want to move on from “Me and It” to “You and Me”, or, as Martin Buber wrote, from an “I and It relationship” to an “I and Thou relationship.” We yearn to know and to be known, as we are known. Yet, how many of us have the moral courage and constitution to make such choices part of our daily lives, and keep on making them, no matter what?

The choices we make dictate how we relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us.

If we treated each other beyond egotism not as objects, but as fellow human beings, as living vessels of life and spirit, as fellow children of the rainbow, then we would experience less dehumanization in the world, which manifests itself as war, violence, hatred, discrimination, oppression, exploitation, and segregation.

How do we live our lives authentically in congress with others? How do we relate to all that we encounter, be it ourselves, other human beings, others forms of life, inanimate objects, and the greater reality? Or, are all to be treated as objects, and only as objects worthy of use in our lust for gratification of our baser urges, instincts, and egotistical emptiness?

Martin Buber wrote about the difference between “dialogue and monologue.” Dialogue is about “interpersonal communications” between souls, which is “unconditional and without qualification.” It is a matter of recognizing that we are here by the grace of the moment. It has a timeless quality to it, which means having no plans or agenda, just being in the here and now, enjoying soul-to-soul communion, and being open to serendipity, all of which creates endless openings and opportunities.

In stark contrast, monologue is about indifferent, impersonal, non-communication between the objectifier and the object, a one-way street of momentary self-satisfaction and gratification. As the essence of “I‑It” is objectification, it acts as a barrier to deeper relations and community. These indifferent communications that follow objectification can eventually lead to hatred.

Experiences of Meaning

By being the change we wish to see in the world, we create loving connections between people where there are none through mindful modeling and skillful facilitation, and by providing a safe place for them to hear one another from the heart and through the heart, to speak and hear the truth without worry, doubt or fear, so that we might take a step closer to building caring community for an ageing America, a time of life in which we grow into our true selves, individuate, and serve one another: sage-ing, not age-ing. People, unlike stuff, have souls, which yearn for connection, meaning, understanding, and love, which is the stuff of life.

We might not be able to choose a true leader over a mere politician, a head henchman for oligarchic and corporate interests, today or tomorrow, but we always have a choice as to how we live our lives in relationship to ourselves and one another, how we relate to all living beings. Instead of practicing the politics of lies, hate, division, and segregation, we can turn the other cheek to the deliberate, misleading, and polarizing misbehavior of our leaders, selected as opposed to elected, by doing the polar opposite. We can choose to be different, and make a difference in our lives and in those of our sisters and brothers by speaking and hearing the truth, by being our own leaders, and by taking responsibility for our lives and those of others.

Instead of practicing the politics of lies, hate, division, and segregation, we can turn the other cheek to the deliberate, misleading, and polarizing misbehavior of our leaders, selected as opposed to elected, by doing the polar opposite.

Good News

Countless new groups are springing up online and offline all over America and the world that are choosing to be part of the solution instead of waiting for others to do it for them. By providing a safe container for “experiences of meaning” for strangers to come together and be together, and then repeating that experience regularly over time, a sense of belonging is created. Strangers are turned into friends, intimates, and true neighbors, knowing that we are all better together and are part of the inescapable web of interdependent mutuality. By bridging our differences and finding commonalities, we let our spirits soar and steel our social disciplines towards redemption through the art of reconciliation on the side of love, not on the side of one meaningless and undifferentiated political party or another.

Embracing The Genuine

In the United States of Activity, the global center of busyness, where a buck is always to be made, often at someone else’s expense, and usually with little to show for it, we rarely slow down sufficiently to hear the echo of our soul welling up deep from within us, let alone each other. In order to hear the song of our soul, the sound of the genuine beyond the hollow ring of the cash register, we have to listen with our hearts, not our minds, to go well beyond the entitled, chattering monkeys inside our heads and most of all, our petty tyrant, the ego. This terrible tyrant only exists in the past and future–it is never in the now, and is certainly not in the know, of what is true, only of escapism and petty distraction.

Which Way?

If we do not know truly who we are and what we are, then we cannot ever know where we need to go, and, consequently, are going on the path of life. We will certainly end up somewhere, but probably not where we want to be. Only if we know what our authentic selves are, which provide a sense of life direction and an internal compass, a gut instinct, for what is essentially true for us, then we can assuredly ask: who is going to join us on our pathway to meaning, connection, and caring community?

In America, we often look to people who we consider extraordinary, such as gurus, leaders, and celebrities, who have been temporarily graced with good luck, fame, or fortune, but who, over time, more often than not, prove to be anything but extraordinary. Although we hope in vain that they will lead the way for us in our typical quest for easy answers and pat solutions, we have no choice but to be our own leaders and to be true to ourselves.

We have to go beyond egotism in order to get to the Promised Land of caring community and beyond tribal religions–systems of oppression as typically practiced in America–to get to Truth. The searching question is: How? Before “our dreams go silently into dust”, we must peel away the layers to find our authentic selves and voices, live the question of, as Howard Thurman put it, “Have you lived in the knowledge of your truth?” Together we must embrace the sound of the genuine, the dignity of every single human life, indeed of all life, the search for common ground, and lead people home to where the heart is, that which is genuine, by following our bliss.

Before “our dreams go silently into dust”, we must peel away the layers to find our authentic selves and voices, live the question of, as Howard Thurman put it, “Have you lived in the knowledge of your truth?

If we do not do this, we get lost inside the labyrinth of segregation and seclusion, and enter into a dark night of the soul where rampant toxic individualism, privilege, domination, exploitation, and racism are the norm. It takes an open mind to go beyond boundary spaces, to stay open to possibility, to create new visions of what might be, to question the status quo, to recognize differences and bridge them meaningfully and lovingly in order to return to where we started: “congenital unity,” our birthright and state of grace. How do we do this in the 21st century with change all around us, but not always in us?

David Richo, a noted San Francisco Bay Area psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher, said something along the lines of: “To find oneself, one must first work on one’s stuff psychologically, before one can work on one’s spirituality.” We must work hard to go beyond the extended reach of our egos, to become an integrated personality, so that we can develop a spiritual life in community with others, so as to become part of an integrated world through cultivation of our true selves, altruism, and activism.

We need to recognize the bedrock of humanity in each other so we can love one another as ourselves, find the spark, the recognition of us in each other, the genuine in and of ourselves leading us to our true destiny–to blaze a glorious path to where the heart lives in caring community, where we all are unique yet equal, distinct and distinctive individuals but part of something much greater than self.

The Sound of the Genuine

What is genuine in me is genuine in you, et vice versa. We must stop, and listen to each other with our hearts for the sound of what is truly genuine, our spirits, beyond ego. By doing this we will recognize each other as fellow human beings and our kinship, thus starting the process of healing and building caring community, for without it, we are lost.

We need community to build bridges across the lonely leagues between our islands of isolation in order to be and feel whole, and to be able to relate to one another as human beings and realize our interdependence; united we grow into love and light, divided we shrink into depression and darkness, but not luminous darkness, just the dark, dreary depths of a winter’s night. There are many groups, informal and formal, offline and online, across the country that are banding together to make a difference and to find strength in numbers.

If one of us is not safe, then none of us is safe. How do we create community, particularly caring community, going beyond the threat of violence, fear, and self-loathing? We start by listening for the sound of the genuine in ourselves and in each other. After we hear what our hearts have to say genuinely, we can then to start to hear that in others. Once we can hear clearly inside and out, we can begin heartfelt dialogue, which is the beginning of the end to inequality and all that divides us.

If one of us is not safe, then none of us is safe.

In order to be true to others, we must also be true to ourselves; love, compassion, integrity, and charity all start at home with us, and nowhere else. We must feel at home in ourselves so that we may make others feel at home, then the whole world will be and is our home, our only home, this one small planet with its’ infinite riches of the heart, and its finite physical environment, scarred by greed and violence, but beautiful and blessed nevertheless.

We are all equal in that we are all unique. This recognition is the foundation upon which community can begin to be built. If we are not seen as truly equal, without distinction, yet simultaneously distinct, then we all pay the bitter price of corrosion and corruption, both the perpetrator and the victim.

We are all equal in that we are all unique.

We need to open ourselves to the sound of the genuine and the infinite possibilities for love and growth that come with it. Our spirits are quiet but not silent–if only we listened more carefully and intently, then just think what we could hear, not just the sound of the genuine self and of the other, but of caring community.

Whitney Vosburgh is CEO of @BrandNewPurpose — creating brand new, purpose-built, values-driven strategy for building a better brand, world and bottom line.@brandguru