I am 70, and have seen so many cultural fads come and go over the decades. WWII vets got parades; Viet Nam vets got spat on; Iraq vets got applauded in airports. Black and white were segregated in the 1930s; black and white were integrated in the 1970s; blacks demanded black-only spaces on college campuses in the 2000s. Got to be confusing for activists focused solely on the immediate unfair circumstances.
One major difference in this generation and all others preceding it is the overwhelming addictive presence of “social media” in people’s lives. Corporations rake in billions of dollars giving ordinary insignificant people a voice in the daily goings-on. They keep us at each others’ throats with manufactured crises and offenses, covering and distracting us from news they do not want us to pay attention to, to where we are so offended by opposing views that we cease to see the humanity behind the views. We cease to consider the vastly different upbringings of all those voices. We fail to consider natural differences in political, cultural, religious, and day-to-day views.
My call for being “above the fray” is a warning against this new development in the culture. If we as spiritual beings kept our eye on the bigger picture, recognized the fights that (corrupted?) media and politicians and corporations were wrangling us into, we might see as allies those we previously branded as enemies.
When I write of being “above the fray”, I mean focusing from above on the alienation of people from one another. It has become truly epidemic. Aside from issues that we champion, how can we as evolved spiritual beings better bind people together, help them see the beautiful humanity in their shared lives, help them make room for and be at peace with views not their own.
How do we return a raging society where everyone feels his or her views are the only ones that count to a better paced world where we make room for the nurturing of all us folks who are struggling with quiet demons that plague our days? Can we return to recognizing and if not celebrating then at least living with the vast diversity that makes up our world today?
It may also be that focusing on some specific issue (voter registration IDs, transgender bathroom laws, black conservatives, millionaire liberals, to wall or not to wall, etc…) is easier to do than focus from above on the larger task of brightening in even a little way someone else’s day. It is easier than extending understanding and acceptance to one of differing views? It is more emotionally rewarding than remembering that there is a deep and often totally unconscious reason that person has chosen to view things differently from us? Is it possible that we identify with a cause as a way to make up for some deep and debilitating wound that secretly dominates our life? I must be important because I hold important opinions and support an oh-so important cause?
But these are just the views of a 70 year old guy who has seen so many causes come and go and come again, an old guy who as a student of spirituality tries to maintain a bigger more challenging more helpful view of the universe. By all means agree with my take or disagree. From an old-days view, disagreement sparks a more interesting relationship, a dynamic promise of growth through expanding our boundaries. I might hear something I had not considered before and change my views?
My humble request: Stay involved. See the bigger picture. Recognize that if you descend to fight with others on the tempting temporal battle ground provided us lower beings by the vastly monied and power-seeking forces above us, you lose sight of the bigger challenge that threatens to rip our society apart.