The type of spirituality that I practice is not about escaping from the practical realities of life. It is about living in this world as a spiritual being and working towards improving myself and helping others do the same. It’s also about balance. I don’t deny the realities of this physical existence. But I also try to keep them in perspective, in their proper place. I’m an eternal being and a powerful one at that (and so are you!). Therefore, I can overcome the challenges of this world. And politics certainly is challenging for many of us.
There were times on this planet when it wasn’t a stretch to make a link between politics and spirituality. Perhaps during the times of our founding fathers in the US. Or the beginnings of democracy in ancient Greece. At those times we could see a clear influence of spirituality into the ethos of politics, attempting to create a foundation of equality and empowerment.
But let’s be real. The democracy of the current US is not living up to those ideals, no matter what your political ideology. Today it’s more like a test or a series of lessons we can choose to learn, or choose not to. Today I’d ask: what can we learn from politics to aid in our progression? And to what extent we are willing to transcend the trappings of our current political environment in order to progress as spiritual beings?
Politics reflects our society. It is a mirror. So when I look in the mirror of the US political system, here is what I see. I see anger. I see division. I see blame. I see polarization. I see victim mentality. I see dogma. I see corruption. I see divisiveness. I see black and white thinking. I see apathy. I see drama. I see judgment. I see hatred. And let’s be clear. I see this on all sides.
However, I’m an incurable optimist. I believe our democracy will withstand this current political climate. I believe we as citizens will eventually look at ourselves in the mirror as a collective and choose unity, compassion, and reason. I believe we will get to a point where we realize we’re all in this together so we should start seeing each other as allies rather than enemies, regardless of our views. I believe we will approach each other as humans with dignity. We will see the wholeness of each individual and stop reducing them to “the other” based on trivial things like party affiliation or who they voted for.
How do we get there? Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to move beyond politics to stay centered within ourselves and connected with humanity.
Part of humility is admitting we don’t know everything. That there are things with our limited perspective and life experience that we simply cannot see. Blind spots. Humility includes a willingness to unlearn things when we are given better, more complete information. The truth rarely exists in a position of absolutism. So if you think there is a 100% absolute truth, you might be stuck in dogma. When it comes to politics and humility, ask yourself:
- Am I allowing myself to see all sides?
- Am I questioning my long-held beliefs or going on autopilot?
- Has anything changed in myself or the world that might challenge my long-held beliefs?
- What am I missing or not seeing?
- If I took on the alternative viewpoint, why would I do so?
When it comes to politics, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The only constant is change. Everything has a limited duration. And everything has a limited scope. I believe that the foundation of our democracy is stronger than any one candidate. When it comes to politics and perspective, ask yourself:
- How much will this (election, issue, candidate…) actually change things?
- How much time and energy am I investing in this? Is that appropriate?
- What is more important in my life than politics? Am I investing the right amount of time and energy in those areas?
Spiritual progression requires us to admit that we have ultimate power and control over our own lives. Politics can become a way to try to escape that responsibility. We can use it to blame others. Or we can throw our hands up in the air and say nothing matters anyway, so why bother? These are all slippery slopes when it comes to spirituality. They become crutches and excuses that block us from moving forward. When it comes to politics and responsibility, ask yourself:
- Am I using politics to avoid responsibility for my own life and my own choices?
- Am I going into victimhood?
- What can I do right now to create the world I want to live in?
- What can I do right now to create the life I want?
- Where am I giving up my power to politics? How do I step into my power?
Compassion includes ourselves and others. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in drama around politics to the point that we get angry and lash out, we are not being compassionate to ourselves or to others. If we start directing judgment or anger or hatred towards others because of their views, then we’re pretty far from compassion.
The narratives we hear around politics are completely divisive. They reduce human beings to a political party or a candidate. They make humans out to be sinister if they don’t agree with us. All the while, both sides will claim they are doing so in the name of compassion for a cause or a group of individuals. This is propaganda. It’s a trap. If you are feeling superiority, anger or hatred for a group of people in the name of another group of people or an issue – you do not have the moral high ground.
Any trigger we have around politics are indicators of what we need to heal in ourselves. These triggers are our responsibility and no one else’s! When we heal ourselves, the world will heal also. Most of us are seeking a world outside of us to magically improve. It doesn’t work that way. Hermes said, “As within, so without.” If you find yourself getting wrapped up in politics, get back to your heart and connect to compassion. You can start by asking yourself these questions:
- Am I being compassionate to myself when it comes to politics?
- Am I being compassionate to others when it comes to politics?
- What do I need to do to heal my own triggers when it comes to politics?
- Am I seeing the humanity and divinity in myself when I engage in politics?
- Am I seeing the humanity and divinity in others when I engage in politics?
I cannot call this article complete without addressing what’s happening in the media. This includes social media. The companies who create media are not here to serve us. They are self-serving organizations whose sole concern is to keep us watching and clicking. They are not that interested in the truth. Because the truth is often complex, multi-layered and maybe even a bit boring when you get to the heart of it, cause it’s reasonable. That doesn’t sell.
The media intentionally create drama and work to elicit strong negative emotions. They are masters at manipulating the mind and emotions. And let’s not forget that social media is constantly being infiltrated by outside sources who want to undermine our democracy. So what can we do about this? The answer isn’t necessarily to bury our heads in the sand. But it is definitely not taking anything at face value or believing that any one source is completely “right” or “wrong.” We have to use discernment and put it in perspective.
Find your own center
The answer to all of this is balance. Find your own center. Connect with your heart. Meditate. Go in nature. Build community. Connect with other people. Pray. Focus on healing yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Do whatever that means for you.
In this intense political climate of polarization and drama, can you stand in balance between fanaticism and apathy? Can you realize that politics does matter to some extent, but there are many things that matter far more? Can you stand with humility, perspective, responsibility and compassion and still vote? Can you allow optimism to triumph no matter the outcome of this or any election?
You can! The question is: will you?