We are experiencing the aftermath of a very polarizing and divisive national election. Now more than ever we need to be reminded of the innate goodness in every soul, whether we are the ones suffering, or among the ones puzzled by why people would be suffering at all, or those laughing at and celebrating what others of us fear.
I’ve thought over the last 10 days or so about how I wanted to respond to this. The following has felt the most right. We, as human beings are wired to be generous and help others. That's how our 150,000 year old (since a programming update) brain works and I think that's ok. At one point in time such behaviors were absolutely essential for survival (maybe, in the long run, it still is).
The ancient ones whose tendencies towards those "noticing and taking care of others" who needed noticed and taking care of, behaviors became our ancestors. Those ancient ones who did not receive that kind of attention or were the ones who didn’t notice, didn't become our ancestors. Why? Because at the time, we realized that if we were to survive, our best chances were in numbers. The more of us, the better we could defend ourselves, our lives and the lives of our children. The good news is that absolutely no one loses when generosity is present. Our ancient brains are literally programmed to release 'feel good' chemicals when we offer a kindness to another. Everyone wins.
I am part of a group of beautiful souls who each month, sometimes on-line, sometimes in person, who have chosen to look inside ourselves, deep inside ourselves, and try to learn how to love and accept what we see. Sometimes that's easy. Other times, it's not so easy, because some parts of us we're not so proud of or don't like so much. Why do we do this?
In doing so, we learn to accept those parts of being human that we've repressed because we're not "supposed" to be that way, because they are 'bad' (jealous, afraid, depressed, anxious, racist, sexist, etc.) or repressed because we're supposed to not think to highly of ourselves (inside each of us is a singer, artist, poet, etc.). The result is that as we learn to accept those parts of ourselves, we automatically become more tolerant of others when exhibit those same human traits. We have discovered that, without trying, we pass that spirit of love and acceptance of ourselves on to ‘our people’ and our world.
I personally have found the following exercise to be very helpful in the aftermath of such a very polarizing and divisive time. It helped me to be reminded of the innate goodness in every soul, at a time when what is most evident is the opposite.
As our group shared their acts of kindness towards others it seemed to help balance the effects of 18 months of pretty much non-stop exposure, exhibition, and seeming celebration and honoring of the darker side of human nature.
Whether we are the ones suffering, or among the ones puzzled by the suffering or those laughing at and celebrating what others of us fear, we all have that helping nature. Let’s touch on that for just a moment. It doesn’t solve the problems that the election exposed, but it is a start at re-establishing a balance of who we are as human beings. To be reminded that there is light, in every one of us, as well as darkness.
I would encourage you do this assignment, share your responses with as many people as you can.
List seven times within the past few months that you felt able to "support" another person or persons. In other words, share a time when you were able to help someone live a little better life. We all have that generosity part of us. What were those moments and how was it manifested?
Here’s my list:
1. In Ireland I chose to look at every street person I saw or passed by and put money in their cup. I haven't always honored that urge to help but I've always felt the tug to do so. I later realized why I perhaps have always been inclined to do so. I learned that one of my ancestors, my, Great Grandfather, was one of them. He would have been the one begging. I also learned that because people of his time, who could have, deliberately didn't help, his parents perished, dying of starvation during the Irish potato famine.
2. While in Ireland, when I ate out, I would eat exactly half of my dinner, take the rest and give it to one of those seeking help on the bridge that we had to walk over to get from our hotel to the restaurants so they could eat as well as I did, for at least one meal, for at least one day.
3. I did the same when I was in Italy.
4. I tipped everyone in Italy and Ireland who served me, even though "you don't have to tip in Europe"
5. Over the last year, I've given away at least a dozen devices designed to help people feel more peaceful and less stressed.
6. Over the past weeks, a number of times, I turned around, went back and gave help to a number of people whose home is the street and I had passed by without noticing.
7. Over the last 8 days, especially, I have attempted to hold sacredly and non-judgmentally others opinions and experiences that are different than mine.
I’d really be interested in reading your list.