The season of politics is upon us. Unlike the holiday season of "good will to all men" this one can bring out ill will which is usually directed at whoever is the opposing party. What a funny term, "party," when there is no fun to be had unless everyone is included. At some point we are all taught to avoid two subjects in polite conversation — politics and religion. We tend to hold strong opinions about them so to keep the peace we avoid all discussion. It is the polite thing to do. We call the world civilized but wars are still being fought because of strong attachments and closed minds unwilling to see the other point of view.
We can have inner peace while still disagreeing with others. We can stand up for issues we believe are right and not demean others. It is possible and it takes place in the part of the mind that chooses peace — that part which is your true self.
I recently attended a spiritual meeting where politics came up and one brave person confessed to being a member of one particular party. She, as it turned out, was surrounded by members of the other party. It gave everyone pause and we took stock at the silliness of this division. There we were, all dedicated to the larger vision of "0neness," however, it felt as if we were 3-year-olds in the sand box.
We soon realized that our judgments about having ideological differences is a silly problem. We are friends who think differently. We think differently because of our various backgrounds, culture, economics, education and so forth. When we stop and hold the other in the radiant light of truth, that truth trumps all the silly divisions that our ego judgments set up to separate and divide us.
Two thousand years ago, Socrates ran into this very problem. He was using dialogue to explore truth. However, it upset those who saw it as an attack on their thought system. They projected "radical" or "rabble rouser" onto him. He was put to death. Freud's law of projection came into play: We see aspects or qualities we dislike in someone else and don't stop to recognize we have the same qualities. We project onto someone else what we refuse to see in ourselves. Anything deemed intolerable is projected out and we blame others. We need to turn our pointing finger around and point at ourselves, and then laugh.
A book that eloquently examines how the ego works is Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose." Regarding holding on to grievances he says: "If you do (hold on) become aware of the grievance both on the level of thought as well as emotion, be aware of the thoughts that keep it alive and feel the emotion that is the body's response to those thoughts. Forgiveness happens naturally when you see that it has no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self, to keep the ego in place. The seeing is freeing." He goes on to say that honest inquiry is looking at how miserable we feel and choosing not to continue building the ego's false self. Be aware and present in the love that is at your core. Choose peace and leave the baggage of past thoughts or differences in the dust.
As we go through this political season, remember you are not an ego. You are spirit, love, kindness and compassion. Only the ego enjoys attacking and feeling attacked. Our personal power lies in not believing those thoughts. Choose peace instead. It takes practice. It is one of life's major lessons. When you forget and enter the fray and realize you are feeling miserable, just remember to laugh. Laugh and never give up on kindness, on peace.
Sally McKirgan facilitates the Inner Peace column for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Rogue Valley residents are invited to submit 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace. Send articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.