A balance of heart and mind. Share your truth, and hold space for others to do the same (even if you don't agree with their perspective). Progress is restrained by compartmentalization, and impeded by "othering." It's particularly hard these days to listen, especially when we don't feel heard... but it has to start somewhere.
Indeed, it's challenging to be willing to listen to others who don't demonstrate that same willingness toward us. It's hard. Really hard. And yet how are we supposed to move forward as a nation if we can't find a way to overcome the divisiveness?
Yesterday evening I witnessed yet another "discussion" on social media where a pretty honest and innocent question (by a New Zealander) about how it was possible for Trump to win if so many people seem not to like him, eventually led into the same sort of name-calling bitterness that is so common these days. There were some thoughtful, intelligent, calm, kind offerings, but at times those seemed to be drowned out by accusations and anger. It called to my mind the image from the 5 of Cups from the Deviant Moon Tarot:
A woman shouts angrily at a seated man, who plugs his ears as if enjoying his own blatant disregard for what she is saying. The three empty cups are symbolic of a lack of frith - the unity, togetherness, and joy represented by the 3 of Cups. Two cups stand patiently waiting to be remembered. The 2 of Cups is a card of love, harmony, healing, and meeting others half-way - the energy missing from most political conversations. The 5 of Cups is traditionally thought of as a card of regret, mourning, loss, sadness. It's not hard for me to imagine that this feeling is the root of what many people in our country are experiencing (no matter who they voted for), and underlies the impulse to shout, point fingers, and plug our ears to each other's voices. And while I believe that talking to each other is necessary, I'm starting to question the ability for us - as a nation - to ever arrive at any semblance of common ground or respectful inquiry. In the online discussion I viewed, I saw some individuals hotly refuting hard facts either without any evidence at all to support their perspectives, or, almost worse, citing sources that did not support their claims. It is almost mind-boggling, but it brings us back to the issue being discussed widely at present: if facts don't seem to matter, then what does? Where does that leave us? How does that help us to establish meaningful dialogue?
At worst, anger, cynicism, and hurt seem to reduce our capacity and willingness to respectfully listen to each other. At best, some of these deep and fundamental issues become chasms that may not be easily fordable. What happens if we never manage to see eye-to-eye, or learn to hold rich, fruitful, meaningful, and considerate discussions about our points of disagreement? Then we must at a minimum act with kindness upon what our hearts and minds indicate is the right thing to do, and find a way to honor that in each other. Maybe that means that I volunteer at Planned Parenthood, and you support a Catholic adoption agency....and we still just might be able to sit down at the end of the day and share a cup of tea together. Maybe we can at least start with that.