Regardless of your political beliefs, the constant barrage of news and debates can be frustrating and exhausting. It is hard to go anywhere, physically or virtually, without finding the various issues of the day being discussed and analysed. The stress created by conversations related to political ideologies only seems to increase over time.
It is tempting to avoid controversy by ignoring current events. But, this often conflicts with the desire to help bring about meaningful change. It is hard to know how to deal with thorny issues in a way that is both genuine and avoids unnecessary conflict and negativity. Finding ways to navigate politics with authenticity and civility has never been more important. As James Redfield’s prayer said, “We prayerfully envision a loving and honest wave of truth and sincerity sweeping through the US electorate.”
The climate surrounding the 2016 U.S. elections created struggles for many individuals. This angst has not declined in the time that has followed. The energy spent on politics is understandable as the consequences of all decisions, including those by politicians and governments, have a major impact on us all. The stakes are high and as conscientious seekers, we have serious concerns about our collective future.
Feeling like our voices aren’t heard can drain our energy. Other times, our opinions do register, but people respond with negativity and even outright hostility. This is especially true in anonymous virtual interactions which can negatively impact the balance in our lives. We can easily spend hours reading comments that anger us or making posts to defend our positions. All of this adds up to either a major hurdle to our progress, or a major opportunity, depending on how we move forward.
Remember Why We Are Here
One of our highest callings is to develop our consciousness. If we get bogged down by incessant reactions to every political event, our development can stall and even move backward. While this is true of any interest we may have, political issues in particular tend to make us feel disconnected. If not from everyone, then at least from those with whom we disagree. This makes growth even more challenging.
Making time for regular moments of mindfulness can help make us aware of our feelings and reactions. Remembering our highest goals and intentions can change the complexion of our thinking. If I don’t pause regularly, I can easily get swept away thinking and analysing. Once I’m aware that I’m getting sucked into often repetitive thinking on a topic, I can find my centre, re-evaluate, and then decide how I want to proceed with clearer intentions.
Talking about political matters with others has a lot of potential for conflict. This is why many prefer to avoid the topic. This is probably a good strategy if we are feeling prone to anger and argument or if the person we are interacting with pushes our buttons.
It is hard to avoid politics all the time with all people. Even if we could, I have mixed feelings about the fact that failing to state our truth authentically can hinder our progress. It would be nice to freely share our perspective, regardless of topic, but this might often seem impossible.
One of the best things we can do is listen to others and respect that they too want to be heard. Communicating with compassion gives us an alternative to walking away from people. While giving others space to share freely doesn’t guarantee that we will receive the same opportunity, it does help our chances.
Trying to convince others of our political position is a lot like trying to help others find their spiritual path. It is not often that a single conversation, or any amount of words for that matter, will convince someone to change before they’re ready. As a result, political conversations often end in anger partly due to unrealistic expectations that people will suddenly see the truth as you see it. Letting go of the need to convince others or “win” a debate can relieve a lot of the anxiety that comes from difficult topics.
As an alternative to talking, another way to move the world in the direction we want is by example. If we model the world we want daily, we have a meaningful impact. And, while popular political topics are indeed important, more universal values like love and compassion shouldn’t be discarded.
Avoiding Power Struggles
The Second Insight describes how an understanding of the past can help us frame our current situation. One of the major takeaways for me on this front is to evaluate the past more objectively and less judgmentally. This means considering the historical context that has brought us to where we are without giving into anger and despair over the more disturbing details.
This approach can make it easier to avoid power struggles over where we are now with political issues. On the personal level, this frees us to interact more authentically without getting defensive. At the societal level, this could help free us from the need to fight wars over ideologies and beliefs.
Authentic Spiritual Change
The desire for political change often mixes with our desire for spiritual change. In fact, our best hope for the political change we seek is to take care of ourselves. Real spiritual change comes when we find our own spiritual path. If each of us continues to evolve then we will help create the world we want. In the meantime, we can all choose to navigate this current political environment with authenticity and skill.
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