Okay, now that I’ve revealed some of my biased opinions in a finger pointing way, I hope you feel a little uncomfortable with Part 1 of this post. While I tried to keep it calm and lacking polemics, it still expressed an opinion that slipped into judgment about other people’s beliefs. Imagine if that makes you feel uneasy how much worse the feelings are when we rage at those who disagree with us.
I was a hippie, liberal/leftist who protested against the Viet Nam war, marched for solar power and against apartheid and worked on nuclear power plant cases as a lawyer so I have some deeply ingrained opinions and I catch myself getting enraged at those who disagree. But somewhere in my public interest work years I started becoming uncomfortable with the degree to which lots of people around me seemed to open their hearts to nameless, faceless masses far away but were often not so nice to people in the room.
We were supposedly working for peace and justice out of some belief that life is precious but I couldn’t help but notice that we didn’t behave as if all life was precious. If all life is precious then it seems to me I don’t get to be mean to Republicans or pro-lifers or fundamentalists or whoever just because they have a different point of view. They’re alive. Doesn’t that make them precious?
It’s one of the greatest places in which I get to practice mindfulness because if I don’t stay alert to my reactions I slip into the vitriolic ranting that keeps hatred and rage in the atmosphere and fuels the fires of riots and wars and crimes. I find that staying that mindful takes practice — for me that’s not only sitting meditation, but moving meditation such as chi gung or chanting or yoga nidra. I practice a lot and I’m still not there. But I catch myself more and more often and change direction with the lovingkindness chant for whomever I’m mentally dissing.
What you believe, what your politics are, what your religious views are, whether you do anything because of what I’ve said is not my business. Nothing that anyone else does is my business. The only business that’s mine is the process of becoming peace, of paying attention to my place in the web of life. Until I can claim that I bring only peace I am in no position to point fingers at anyone else (and my observation of those who make it to “being peace” is that once there they don’t point fingers). What’s your business?