We live in a polarized world. In the United States, the polarity is intense. Much as in
Civil War days, families and friends are divided in their opinions and beliefs. At least
mine are. I have strong opinions myself and struggle to understand how people who
think differently from me can hold those opinions. I mostly keep quiet about my
opinions. Especially in my position of influence as a spiritual leader, I believe
promoting a political position –even one that I believe aligns with values that most
people hold (or I think should hold) —is inappropriate. But I am wondering if
silence is a virtue.
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to gain momentum, we white people
are realizing that we are part of the problem when we fail to speak up. “Silence is
Violence” the saying goes. Could that be true in the political realm too?
I have watched with dismay as people I love and admire take to the streets of
Facebook, shouting angrily, making speeches and attacking those who think
differently. They are received with applause by others who agree with their position
and quick arguments by those who do not. Then the rumble begins between the two
sides. “How can you think….” quickly degenerates to name-calling and unfriending.
Only occasionally do I see people listening to one another.
One of my dear friends has a very different political position from me. This has been
hard for me. We have actually had a couple of open conversations about the topic. I
am sure neither of us convinced the other to change position, but I think we both
had a bit more of an open mind. For sure, we felt closer to one another because we’d
been courageous enough to share our ideas and listen respectfully.
Recently, I spoke with another friend who was dismayed by all the hate speech. His
family was in Europe during WWII and most of them were executed. Killed by hate.
It is quite traumatic for him to witness the hatred that is like smog, filling the air all
around. As I listened to him, I was inspired to speak up and stand by my core beliefs.
I don’t mean I plan to start making speeches about who to vote for or what is wrong
with this politician or that law. I’m not even going to rant about COVID-19 measures
or policemen or white supremacists. I mean I need to speak up about hate.
Whenever we are outraged and “spitting mad”, I invite all of us to change the
channel. Not just the news channel, but also the inner channel. There is an oasis of
love and peace, inside our hearts, and all around us in a higher dimension. From this
place, we are guided to take useful action. From a place of rage and hatred, we only
foster more of the same. We can share facts without vitriol. If we want to
understand others and ask people to explain their thinking, then we need to respect
the answers we receive and not argue or attack them. That is not listening to
I doubt that anybody reads a post on Facebook and changes their political opinion
or political stripes as a result. People either use it as an opportunity to fight or they
shudder, like my friend, at the evidence of hate. Nothing good comes from that.
When I was a kid, we got our mouths washed out with soap if we said hateful things.
It’s a terrible punishment but I think it’s time for a metaphoric, collective, washing
out our mouths with soap!
Once cleansed, what if we could all become ambassadors of equality and kindness?
What if we could present facts for reflection, without adding contempt? What if we
only shared something political if we were also offering a clear action step to
consider? Something other than an invitation to hate! Or what if we stopped
presenting polarized opinions at all on social media and instead shared stories of
people whose actions inspire us with their courage, wisdom, creativity or kindness?
What if, as representatives of the human race, we could make amends for the
genocides and hate crimes of history by refusing to indulge in hate? What if we can
create a love tsunami that floods the land and washes away the hate and stops the
Perhaps we can. But not by hating. Only love will heal our world.