These days, the political landscape is incredibly divisive.
I spent some time browsing through Facebook this past weekend and was surprised to see that more than half the posts were political in nature.
And many were downright nasty, ridiculing those in the opposing political party. The anger is palpable and the tone is one of righteous indignation: “We are right and they are wrong!”
And, of course, it’s not just on Facebook; it’s everywhere.
But remember the saying: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Hating others and their opposing viewpoint is toxic to our wellbeing.
Look, I’m saying this not just to you but also to myself.
I have been totally consumed by political happenings for the past three years. There are people I’ve hated and certain situations that have triggered extreme anger.
How has that changed the person or the situation? It hasn’t. In my case, it only leads to stress and insomnia.
So what can we do when something is happening that violates our values? How can we deal with things like this intelligently and creatively?
Here’s my perspective:
First, we can objectively observe that nothing in the world that happens, neither good nor bad, has any direct impact on our state of mind. It’s our beliefs about the person or situation that triggers either approval or disapproval (same person or situation, different reactions).
“Sometimes your belief system is really your fears attached to rules.” –
Second, we didn’t choose our beliefs. They chose us, depending upon our upbringing, education, and the community we were raised in. If we grew up with different circumstances, we’d believe and behave differently. And yes, of course, there are exceptions.
Third, there are times in our lives when we’ve behaved badly or stupidly and done things we’re not proud of. But we often hold others up to standards that we fail to meet ourselves. Ultimately we need to realize that we’re not perfect and neither is anyone else.
“We are all hypocrites. We cannot see ourselves or judge ourselves the way we see and judge others.” –
Those three insights (if we own them) will automatically make us more compassionate, tolerant, and forgiving.
“Courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace.” – Nelson Mandela
But this doesn’t mean we should be complacent about things we perceive as unjust or harmful to others, our community or the world.
No, we should speak up, protest, encourage dialog, and if nothing else, vote to clearly state our preference for a different type of leadership.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
But take positive action instead of being consumed by hate and anger.
“I have decided to stick to love; hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King
Haven’t we learned that none of that works and will never work? Haven’t we learned that intolerance, even of intolerance, just leads to more divisiveness and derision?
I salute people both in the U.S and all over the world who are committed to lasting change, though peaceful demonstrations, getting out the vote, and respectful communication about differing points of view.
Yeah, even on Facebook.
“Peace doesn’t require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.” – Byron Katie
This is not the easiest path, but in the long term, it’s proven to be the most effective and enduring.
P.S. Remember to vote on or before November 6.
“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi
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