A beautiful day in Princeton. Walking over to vote this morning, I felt such a sense of the importance of this small act of civic responsibility. Which, politically cynical as I’ve grown over the years, surprised me. And then, even more surprising, the thrill I felt as I cast my vote. But what surprised me most of all were the tears that welled up as I walked out of my polling place.
So much divides us. The country seems as polarized as it was during the Civil War. One wonders where we go from here. How does Hillary (and I trust she will win this election) begin to heal the gulf. How do any of us reach out to the other side. These are the big questions. And if neuropolitical research is correct, our political stance is predetermined in our hard wiring.
Listening helps. Standing less on the side of being right, more on the side of being open helps. These are skills we can develop as long as we’re willing to step outside our own definitions of what is right, and feel the fear or pain or hatred of another. Is my fear of Donald Trump any different than a Trump supporter’s fear of Hillary Clinton. Same fear. Just pointed in a different direction.
At class last night I read from Baba Muktananda’s 1981 book, Where Are You Going? As relevant today as it was 35 years ago.
Today the world is said to be making more and progress, but in what way has it become greater… All over the world there is hatred among nations, hostility among political parties, animosity among societies, and enmity among races and classes. People talk about innovation and reform, but in the name of these things they have succeeded only in destroying the environment, in wrecking family life, and increasing selfishness and hostility.
In such a world there is only one thing we need, and that is the true understanding of humanity. Yet that is exactly what we lack. Why does a human being behave as he does? Why does he create barriers between himself and others? He does these things because he lacks true understanding about himself. He does not know the greatness that lies within the human heart. Yet if he were to look within himself, he would realize that he contains the divinity of the entire world.
Perhaps, in the end, it all comes down to Love. The kind of love that stretches across the boundaries and holds us strong in its embrace. The love that’s called agape or maitri. It’s what I touched this morning when those tears welled up. Last thing I ever expected to happen. Yet there it was, shimmering inside of me, waiting for me to open up and feel its grace.
I read this beautiful poem by Marie Howe at class last night. It’s deep. if you don’t already know it, read it out loud several times at least and it will come alive for you…
Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does–
and so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as toward a place, but it was a tilting
as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me
only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.