Dividing Us

I think a lot about what divides humans against each other and why we choose division instead of unity. This characteristic has been a source of much frustration in my life and looking at the current series and intensity of arguments among humanity, it’s obviously a source of frustration for most people.

Our conversations about how to create unity seem to revolve around either embracing diversity, eliminating it, or creating geographic separations between diverse groups. The paradox of these discussions is that the people on both sides believe the people on the other side need to change or get out of the way. In other words, the “others” need to eliminate the diversity.

Apparently the solution we’re locked into imagining is eliminating at least some of the diversity of humanity. At least we agree on something. And this brings us to the conundrum that is most likely the original source of our drive to divide…

Every person is an “us” to some people and a “them” to others. Every way of being enhances life for some people and diminishes life for others. Truly then who, or what way of being, is so inappropriate that our appropriate response is elimination?

For everything we agree on in this arena, we also create exceptions to our agreement. Looking at violence as an example of something that most of us, me included, believe is a way of being that should be eliminated. We have a list of exceptions to that agreement. Somehow we justify violence in war, and violent responses to violent aggressions. We justify the violence of medical surgeries, and of keeping ourselves comfortable by eliminating what threatens our survival…

And here we come to the likely source of our original division. Each one of us wants to live – that’s why we came here. Each one of us wants to be our own self – that’s why we came here as individuals. Our very reasons for being here require that we have enough safety and space to live here as ourselves. Yet these are the very things we humans try to deny one another when we divide into antagonistic versions of “us and them”.

Although we dress them up with different words at times, the foundation of our antagonistic “us and them” dichotomy is actually this very small list of divisions:

♦ You look different than I do.

♦ You live different than I do.

♦ I’m right and you’re wrong.

♦ You’re right and I’m wrong.

♦ You having that means I don’t have this.

♦ Me having this means you can’t have that.

We use these again and again in our disagreements, regardless of the focus of the disagreement. This tells me that the divisions themselves aren’t the issue. They’re simply ways to avoid talking about our very real conundrum…

We don’t know how to comfortably accommodate all the variations that our individuality creates. In today’s world, being truly separated from people different than ourselves is a very rare thing at best and for most of us an impossible thing. Our historic solution of dividing into families, tribes, villages, and countries that are separated by geography doesn’t work so well anymore.

What if we were to imagine a very different way of being? What if we were to imagine being capable of knowing each other so well that we easily see and appreciate the beauty and beneficial contributions of each person? What if we were to imagine this being the core value of humanity?

Every new thing begins with a thought… every new reality begins with action. What if we acted on this?

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