At a time when chaos, confusion, and uncertainty seem to be the new political normal in America, there is a sensing that there’s going to take something very different to get us out of the deep ditch we appear to have dug ourselves into, and the same old rhetoric just doesn’t seem to be that thing.
Republican congress member, Justin Amash, who has accused President Trump of “impeachable acts” said he is leaving the GOP and becoming independent because “modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape.”
And what might that “escape” be? To divide ourselves even more? To continue mudslinging, arguing and fighting over issues that plague our political system, causing both parties to shout louder at one another, unable to agree on what the solutions for those issues are? If both parties are striving to do what is supposedly best for our country, and truly want to make “America great again”, but one party believes that America never stopped being great, while the other party believes they can make America even greater than it is, there’s no wonder “modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral” because no one can agree on what truly is best for America. The “escape” that Rep. Justin Amash speaks of might not be leaving one political party for another, but making your party better before you try and make America great or greater, and Mindfulness is the way that can happen.
Mindfulness? You mean that Buddhist concept of being present and aware? How in the world does that fit into “modern politics”, you might ask? It desperately needs to fit into the very thing that needs it the most, and American politics as we are witnessing it today, needs it badly.
There is so much disagreeing, arguing, and hostility going on amongst both parties that civil discourse, as it was intended to be, has lost its way. If we no longer respect how we communicate, but instead, think that shouting, name calling, and sadly, even mock hand clapping is the only way to get through to one another, then the art of discourse will be gone from modern politics, and a greater divide between us will take its place.
A border wall is a very powerful symbol that represents a lot more than just keeping illegal immigrants out of our country. We also have an invisible wall that is keeping Americans extremely divided, and that wall is growing in size each day. Until we recognize that becoming more mindful in how we speak to one another, even if we disagree, is something we need to improve on and strengthen, then both parties will continue to fight, and we, the American citizens who are growing tired and weary of both parties fighting like two parents who can’t stand one another, are going to lose faith in this country and its leaders; no matter their party, and before you know it, not only will civil discourse be lost forever, but voting will no longer become the great motivator for change, because change cannot happen until we become more aware of the fact that politics has become more of the problem rather than the solution.
We do need more awareness of how we are talking to one another if we want to be good and effective problem solvers, and Mindfulness will help us do that. It is a tremendously valuable skill inherent in each of us, but clearly isn’t being used as much as it could be in our political environment. And no, Mindfulness is not something that only the Buddha was able to practice to become enlightened. We must remember that he was an ordinary person just like we are, but he took himself on a spiritual journey because he saw so much suffering in the world and wanted answers, and he found those answers by looking within himself.
We must look within our own hearts and souls for the answers we need to lead us out of the ditch we find ourselves in. When we plead to have more compassion for the immigrants who are being detained in centers we call inhumane, but continue to display our hate for one another for the entire world to see because we disagree politically, then we too are being cruel, harsh, and even brutal to each other, which is highly hypocritical. What do we think it will take for us to come together in a way that doesn’t make this a partisan problem? And where do we really think the great “escape” is to make this great big mess go away?
Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, or even a party nobody’s heard of because only certain parties “qualify” for having their names printed on election ballots (I was surprised to learn there’s even a party called; “Better for America”), bring Mindfulness into whatever party you choose, and you will make that party better. Mindfulness will help make your party a shining example of something that seems to be working favorably for it, and people will notice. The party we choose is a party we should be proud to say is ours, and millions of people don’t feel that way right now. Parties are being changed right and left, just like Rep. John Amash has chosen to change his from Republican to Libertarian. I can only hope he finds something better in his new party. But, if Mindfulness is missing, then I’m afraid he might be changing one set of party problems for the next.
Thinking that this is a “right vs. left party is better” will only perpetuate the problem. I want to see more mindful politicians and leaders come forward, and not just tell us what they will do differently to fix the problems we have, which we have heard president after president tell us, but also show us how present and mindful they are by the words they choose, the tone of their voice, the clarity in their eyes, their impeccable listening skills, their unwavering patience, and the honesty and integrity they exude, which is palpable.
What do we think this quote by Jesus means: “You will know them by their fruits”? A biblical interpretation is that it’s thought to mean that Jesus was teaching to avoid following “false prophets.” But in this modern age, with our “modern politics trapped in a partisan death spiral” can we possibly recognize a “false prophet” from a real one, and what exactly does a prophet mean in the 21st century? Let’s just say that a prophet is someone who tells us what will happen in the future, and isn’t that what politicians do? They tell us what they will do to make the future better for us, so they are the closest thing we have to a prophet in our modern-day world.
We must listen to them very carefully. Are they saying just what we want to hear, or are they saying what we need to hear, and no one has said it quite in the same way they are, and it has gotten our attention big time. What they are saying is different, and fresh, and intelligent, and mindful. Very mindful. They have reminded us of the need for civil discourse by the way in which they speak, and how important it is, especially during these times when we are speaking terribly disrespectful and rudely to one another. This isn’t the same ol’ same ol’ rhetoric they’re saying. This is something entirely different, and we are more than ready for it.
So, who amongst these politicians and leaders will awaken the American psyche so that each and every one of us can help make America function as great as she is capable of? Oh, America, you are great, and have always been great, and are on your way to becoming even greater. We are here, present with you, every step of the way in your “being and becoming”, and the more we awaken to what is possible, the more of what is possible for this country will take place.
But, we must be present. We must be aware. We must be mindful. And, we must always remember to use our words kindly and wisely, no matter our party, for the betterment of America — this country we profess to love.