Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or classify as something different, whether you are a Trump supporter or not, whether you are black, LGBTQ, a citizen or an immigrant or both, there are fundamental similarities that we have first as humans and second as Americans.
Today, I was heading to my car in front of the house. Our neighbor, who we have lived across from for a few years, was heading out to her car as well. I asked if she was marching tomorrow. She said, “I am a Trump supporter.” I said, “Well, have a great day.”
And it struck me. I thought this march was about inclusion, yet she feels that because she supports Trump she is excluded. She is a woman. The march is for women, yet she feels excluded.
I felt sad.
This realization touched at the heart of the divide in America and the world.
Though we deep have fundamental similarities: the desire to be safe, belong and have dignity – she felt none of those with me, her neighbor.
Now, I don’t know that is true in totality. I am making some broad assumptions about how she feels from my perspective if I was in her shoes: the minority, as far as I am aware, in my north Seattle neighborhood.
And I thought, minorities are who we are trying to include, even if they are Trump supporters. Why are we not broadening our perspective?
Today in the Mark Nepo Book of Awakenings there was a story about a monk who was always complaining. The teacher who was tired of hearing all the complaining asked the student to go get some salt. The student returned with the salt. The teacher asked the student to taste the salt and report how it tasted. The student said, “Bitter.” Then the teacher walked the student to a lake and asked the student to put the salt in the lake. The student complied. The teacher asked the student to taste the water and report how it tasted. The student said, “Fresh.”
The teacher replied, “The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is enlarge your sense of things…Stop being a glass. Be the lake.”
Be the lake. I thought this was apropos for the inclusion march tomorrow.
If we only include likeminded people, how is this inclusion?
How will we ever grow into our full capacity as humans and see what we are truly capable of?
What is the larger story where we all can fit together?
With all of our capacity as humans, why are we not using it in this trying time.
The Dali Lama, and others like him, have found ways, through practice, to expand their consciousness, to include, listen and understand – not necessarily agree or give up their dignity – but to see the dignity of another, that they, and their opinions, have worth and value. That they are worthy of belonging.
And as I said above, that is a basic need of human beings. A way we can feel safe. And open to the true potential we have only scratched the surface of.
I am practicing daily to expand my ability. It is hard work. Letting go of my opinion to truly hear and see another. Letting their opinion have equal weight in my mind. I feel physically and mentally exhausted. Some part of me wants to be like I have always been and fight back. To rage and share all the reasons they are wrong. Yet this does not feel true for me anymore. It feels counter to the more beautiful world my heart knows is possible.
So, I will not fight.
I will stand for what I believe in.
Yet I will not do so by taking the dignity of another.
I will expand my capacity to understand – what happens for me and what happens for them. This, as I said, is not an easy path. But through practicing, I have found more softness in myself, and been privileged to see the softness in others when I let go and open.
So tomorrow, I will seek to understand. Not only my fellow marchers, but all people of this beautiful city. For someday, we may really have to rely on each other. And I better start practicing now. Because when that day comes, it will be too late, and we will be too overwhelmed to do anything that we have not been practicing.
Need to learn some new practices on how to be the lake? Invite perspective.