As we bring 2020 to a close and enter the season of winter, longer hours of darkness, and the celebration of Light within many Holidays and traditions, we can also turn within, and consider carrying a Light into our internal dark corners where fears, mistrust or contempt may still lie.
In November, we held a collective conversation within our Essential Conversation Series, hosted by Michael Mervosh, (click here to view) and began to examine and look at the ways we as humans in the Western world have become more divisive, as well as justified in our divisiveness, speaking (or maybe even shouting) from one encampment to another (referencing Warren Poland, click here for more information. and referencing Will Wilkinson, click here for more information). We looked at how this has emerged from the perpetual chaos and uncertainty throughout our year.
And the exchange and tossing around of information from differing perspectives and realities, yet needing to accept that each are different and equally valid personal realities, as well as examining subjective certainties that are not necessarily truths, only continues to create, more chaos and confusion (referencing Jonathan Rauch. click here for more information).
And woven into the mix there are also all the ways we have been disregarded in the past, and how that easily rises from the shadows, giving justification and reasoning for our thoughts, words and actions in dismissing and disregarding others.
We can begin to first hold ourselves in compassion during this tumultuous time. As Christopher Bollas speaks to this in his work, he says it is difficult to stand and keep “steadfast in empathy, kindness and regard in a heightened chaotic environment”; it rather “becomes easier and easier to retreat into a fixed position.”
To begin to create an internal and external shift, one possible solution for distrust in the “other” is simply choosing to see their humanity, remaining in contact with yours and theirs basic goodness, and then beginning to get to know one another across the divide.
Then the steps toward unity can begin with a gesture of kindness or regard, especially where it is least expected. Two participants, Thomas and Beth, on our live online Essential Conversation in November spoke to two examples of staying in contact with them self and the other, and then offering a gesture of kindness or regard. A third ingredient in embracing an ethic of regard, is beginning to find common ground with one another.
In reflection on these exchanges, Michael Mervosh stated, “A conversation that bears tension, and that doesn’t get worse, is progress.”
How can each of us find ways to bear the tension between two seemingly opposing sides and find a way, or create an opening within, for a shift? — for something new to emerge? For an “un-imagined bridge” to begin to be built across the divide.
As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over many chasms early on,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.
Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.
In our opening quote, bell hooks speaks to how fear may be present, but when we embrace love, respect, kindness, “Our fear may not go away, but it will not stand in the way.”
As we embrace an ethic of regard and not allow fear to stand in our way, we can begin to draw on the resources and inspiration of others. We do this to prepare space within ourselves, to bear the tension, to create an opening, to find a new way, to begin to build a new bridge. We’ll first take a closer look at kindness through the eyes and wisdom of Naomi Shihab Nye, a humanitarian, Arab-American poet. And then secondly, look to the wisdom of Derek Walcott, a highly recognized Caribbean poet, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature,1992.