For a long time, I’ve held on to the belief that two topics that are not worth engaging in a conversation with are politics and religion. No one wins. We’re bound to just get into an argument and a debate.
Not too long ago, I found myself being part of a conversation about government and politics. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t a very pleasant interaction. It was very draining — at least from my side of the fence.
I realized though that it isn’t so much the topic of politics or religion per se that is the point of contention. The discussion about politics and religion isn’t what causes discomfort. The topic isn’t what eventually results in arguments. It’s the intention that we bring to the table when we engage in these topics. Actually, with any interaction or topic for that matter.
We all have our filters through which we view things. We all have our perspectives and not all of them will be the same. Our frames of references are as unique and diverse as our backgrounds and experiences.
But we can agree to disagree and we can make this our intention.
We can respect each other’s ideologies and honor where we all are. No judgment. No proving who’s right or wrong. No put down. No feeling of superiority. No voice of authority.
Some will not get our point and that’s totally ok. Some will understand and realize where we’re coming from, have a change of heart, and eventually take a similar stance. That’s equally fine as well. Some will see our point-of-view and still choose to hold on to their personal beliefs. And that again is totally fine.
There is a countless list of social, political, and philosophical issues that we can all discuss. We certainly have differing opinions and viewpoints over all of them. How an individual chooses to deal with these issues, be it at a personal level or for the greater good of all, is a personal preference that needs to be respected. The options are as varied as our opinions as well as the topics and issues that are open for discussion.
What is the point and what is your intention?
When we focus solely on convincing the other of what our point is, we are not really after genuine interaction or a healthy exchange of energies. We’re being selfish, insensitive, inconsiderate, and disrespectful.
When our intention is to prove ourselves right and the other wrong, the balancing scale tips heavily on one side. We may feel rejuvenated for having proven our point but we have actually depleted the other of their energy, and their right to their own opinion. This may or may not be intentional. Being unintentional though doesn’t make it less inappropriate or more tolerable.
That’s why we need to bring our awareness and mindfulness to every aspect of our lives, including our conversations. This ensures an equal, balanced and healthy exchange of energies in all our interactions.
Speaking my truth
When we find ourselves in situations when the other person’s opinion or belief is being forced upon us, and it isn’t making us comfortable or we feel disrespected, we need to remember that it isn’t about us. Don’t take things personally. Yet, silence isn’t also the most appropriate or the only response.
I have realized that it would have been totally acceptable and appropriate for me to have simply said, “Can we just talk about something else because I am not feeling uplifted?”
There is no judgment in that statement. It is as truthful as it can be. It is honoring my feelings and giving myself the power to choose what I want in my energy field. It isn’t making the other person or the topic wrong. It is simply and merely speaking my truth and expressing the truthfulness of my experience.
Stand by your truth and what you believe in but force it not upon another
It’s one thing to exercise our right to have our own opinion, speak our truth and stand behind it. But when we shove it down upon another, we contribute to the long-standing separateness in humanity. We further the prevalent divisiveness amongst us.
And that mind-set has already led to numerous incidents of aggression and violence throughout history. It has led countries and political leaders to declare war hastily and unnecessarily. How I wish we can all learn to encourage and welcome a variety of opinions and beliefs. It is healthy and it is how we grow and it helps widen our perspectives.
Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing. – Zen Proverb
We can have unity in diversity. Hostility need not be the prevalent force or resulting energy. It’s one thing to stand by our own truth. It’s another to force it upon the other.
There can be unity in diversity. And there can be peace, instead of animosity.
Deep down, at our essence, I know that no one wants to truly suffer or cause pain upon another. We all want to end the world’s suffering. I think if there’s one thing that we are unified about, it is the mutual desire for world peace.
But to have peace in the world, we need to start being at peace with ourselves first and being peaceful with one another, even if, and especially when we have differing opinions, beliefs and preferences.
Be it the belief in Jesus or Buddha. Democratic or Republican. Or even something as mundane as chocolate or vanilla ice cream. In fact, especially more so with simple things.
Because if we can’t respect and honor each other’s preferences and choices when it comes to the mundane stuff, how can we even begin to do so with other more complex matters?
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