In the first part of this series last week, I suggested the developing presidential campaign offers a great opportunity to apply the skills learned in meditation.
After all, meditation is not just about what you do on the cushion or at the retreat center although the times of stillness and silence and retreat are important. Focusing your clear mindful awareness moment by moment on the normal activities of each day and year is also important. Being a responsible citizen and making intelligent decisions with your vote and civic contribution are both good examples of such efforts.
Here is another way to apply the skills of mindful awareness when you think about politics or read or listen to the news reports on the subject.
Take the time to consider some important traits that many conservative and progressive voters have in common. Here is one of them:
Each side feels their way of life, values, economic standing, and general security are seriously being threatened by what the other side is doing. In my experience most people on either side do not stop to take the time to realize this. Also, most people never really take the time to understand why their opponents are so angry and afraid let alone that at least some of their critiques may be valid.
For example, center left and progressive voters talk about the raw anger of many conservative voters, but they do not try to understand why so many conservatives are so angry. Likewise many conservatives often do not take the time to understand the raw anger and frustration of their progressive opponents.
I am not defending the anger of conservative voters or the self-righteous indignation of many progressive voters; or either of their views. What I am trying to do is to help people see how their opponents look at the world.
In my experience, conservative voters, especially evangelical Christian voters, feel they and their way of life are being overwhelmed by the fact that progressive voters have gained the upper hand on many social issues. Legalized abortion and gay marriage are the two most prominent examples.
In my experience many center left and progressive voters also feel their way of life is in danger of being badly undermined by the agendas of their conservative opponents.
Some examples of this are: the constant pressure by conservatives to repeal Roe versus Wade, the bitter struggles over gay marriage, and the resistance to meaningful progress on climate change. Seeing the wealth of the rich continue to soar, while the income of the middle class, and the safety net at state and federal levels are constantly being attacked are also deeply troubling to many center left and progressive voters.
There are lots of other issues that sharply divide conservative and progressive voters such as the role of the military in American foreign policy. Another is what to do about 11 million illegal immigrants.
I am not saying there are easy ways to find a reasonable consensus with these very tough and emotionally charged issues. What I am suggesting is to try to understand that people on all sides need to work with their fear and anger in ways that allow them to listen better and to think and speak more clearly.
What I am also saying is that whatever side you take, there are many, many people on the other side that work just as hard as you do to keep a marriage going, earn a living, raise their children and deal with the pressures of modern life. However differently opponents look at the world, there are certain core life experiences and values both sides hold in common that are a base we can all build on.
The people on the far right and far left will probably never really be willing to seek accommodation. But here is my question, “Are their ways for the center right, the center, and the center left to begin to find a consensus that will help us achieve the measure of economic stability, justice, and a renewal of shared values that we need?
More next week.
Please let me know what you think. I will respond.
Will Raymond Author of the Simple Path of Holiness and host of Meditation Practice dot come.
774-232-0884 or will at meditation practice dot com (Spelled out to limit spam).