12/30/2010

New Year's Resolution: Give Up Angry Politics


I've noticed that the rage of the political Right and the rage of the political Left are one and the same energy. For some folks, political anger is the only rush: the rest is numb.

Whenever I become political - and sooo progressive - two things happen in me. First I become right: as in righteous. Which means I stop listening to anybody who has a different view. Second, my heart contracts. Love becomes less important than being right. I tune into a global wavelength of anger that feeds my outrage, making me more and more like the people I despise. I guess this is why Jesus said, "Love your enemy." He wasn't so much giving us a way to address our adversary as to save our own hearts from poisoning themselves. After all these years of being in "the peace movement," I really ought to take him up on it.

I've written nearly a hundred newspaper editorials where I've lambasted the political right, their corporate fascism, and their wars. But I was merely preaching to the choir, and alienating the opposition. No one changes any minds by being outraged, or right. Political anger doesn't solve anything: it just polarizes.

This is where I thank Charles Dickens. Re-reading Dickens teaches me the role of literature in getting one's head unstuck. Though Dickens never preaches religion or politics, Christ-like compassion pervades all of his stories: and it is a dynamic, active compassion. Dickens shows us a society crippled by unbearably corrupt banks, courts and politicians: a system that simply won't be reformed in any foreseeable future. Yet every day, apparently powerless people redeem the poor and the outcast with acts of human care, often heroic in their anonymity.

At the still center of the smallest act of kindness is a healing that redeems the earth. What changes things is not our moral outrage, but allowing our hearts to flower and act in the grace of the ordinary.

So I have decided to do my work outside the political system. The world yearns for anonymous sacraments of kindness that have nothing whatsoever to do with politics! The Kingdom of Justice is not built out of political angst, but apolitical movements of the heart, aimed at gathering communities rather than splitting them in two. This year, I resolve to drop the rituals of political anger, and disengage from the rhetoric of both Left and Right.

Peace to you, my friends, and happy New Year in this time of fresh beginnings, which we celebrate simply to remind ourselves that every moment, all year long, can be a moment of awakening.

1 comment:

Ben said...

I Love this post for its insight and personal transparency. I have seen the same self righteousness and outrage in myself. My preferred venue has been corporate America since I work there.
At a certain level of leadership where the desired change impacts a larger and larger number of people, I discovered that broad sweeping changes of great detail and complexity did not serve everyone. My views, who I thought I was, and how right I was took a kick in the conceptual pants of who I really am and what is really true. That was very helpful by the way.
Now there are some things that most people can agree on as positive change. The rest I have found requires a more local exploration into the nuances of the issues to be helpful.
So, I became much happier, more authentic, and actually helpful when after implementing the broad wide sweeping strategy, I got involved locally and really began to understand the issues in each location from a grass roots perspective, and became willing to create solutions that were more specific and in line with the local challenges.
Getting past the conceptual arguments, ideologies, and points of view and linking arms in consensus (as much as possible) is important. Spending a good long time in understanding what is actually happening is key as opposed to trying to implement the most broad based change in the fastest time frame.
So, this was humbling on many levels because first of all my wide sweeping righteous generalizations were not as great as I thought. Also, the challenges for resources at a local level are daunting at times.
So, we start with the first small steps and link arms with the local interests carving their own destiny which is sometimes pretty good, and sometimes just a blind as I have been as well as challenging to work through because of their adherence to concepts\ideologies and not what is actual.
I would say that the biggest changes I have been able to influence that were the most positive is when I am the most transparent and authentic about the mistakes I have made and what I learned, and empathetic to those who are reaching for something better with the willingness to change to achieve it. I have seen it inspire people to be more real and big hurdles cleared.
That's why I love the transparency and insight in this post. When those components are present positive change has a chance with the humility of seeing what is true not what we would prefer would be true. And certainly not trying to project some idealized concept of myself as I have done for too long and many decades.
Thank you!
I enjoyed the Dickens analogy very much. I saw Dickens' stories through new eyes. I have in the past avoided his literature because it is so dark. But, to embrace the light I finally discovered that I had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Death to who I thought I was, and death to turning away from the shadows. The only way through it is through it. There is a gold mine in that journey I denied for years.
I like your conclusion. "Yet every day, apparently powerless people redeem the poor and the outcast with acts of human care, often heroic in their anonymity." That is my latest and greatest learning although I don't think anonymity is a strict requirement if I am being authentic about who I really am, my role, and that it takes many to make it happen.
I think it is possible to solicit help with some local success, hard work, and some good fortune from larger interests and maybe even the political system.
Regardless the results, I found the journey life changing. If what I really am is nothing (awakened space), and I don't exist (as a separate personal entity) which everything I have seen suggests (at this point) is true, then the whole spectrum of manifested reality is included. I don't have to necessarily change my views on it, but I would say I am learning to open to more of it because its teachings are so expanding clearly me of my self imposed limitations