Is it just me, or do we seem to be polarizing society more and more? It feels like everywhere you turn, the only choice is either/or.
This can get pretty extreme. For example, following the tragic fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, people are contributing money to help repair it. Yet a lot of people are pointing out, well, that’s great, but what about fixing the tainted water in Flint, Michigan, repairing the firebombed churches of Louisiana, aid hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico, and fix other more local issues?
This is an example of the either/or mentality on a grand scale. It’s also being increasingly seen on a more personal level. For example, say a friend posts about an issue on Facebook. You innocently offer a suggestion or commentary with no intent but to commiserate and let them know you are there. Yet now that friend, or another friend or acquaintance, calls you out for insensitivity or failing to recognize privilege or what-have-you.
This can be really depressing and frustrating. No matter how good your intent, the chances of causing offense or otherwise upsetting someone are really high. How do you recognize what you can and cannot offer up without somebody getting distraught over it?
Fear, lack and scarcity
This is all part of our fear-based society. Deeper than the fear, though, is the mentality of lack and scarcity. If you live in the United States, for example, there are people going bankrupt every day just trying to care for their health, people being arrested due to the color of their skin, and our so-called leaders continue to make it abundantly clear that they only care about the money.
To maintain the power those same people have, they gaslight, minimize, disenfranchise, disempower, and spread lies about lack and scarcity to pander to a specific base. All of this can make you feel like nothing you do matters, and there is no way out of this.
That’s what they want you to believe. If you feel disempowered, hopeless, and like nothing you can do will matter, they believe they can maintain control.
What propagates this is conversations and actions between everyday people, using these either/or situations and dividing us further and further. Instead of working from a place of abundance to grow and improve the world, we allow belief in lack and scarcity to shrink and diminish the world.
It takes very little to offend and alienate people nowadays. I do not believe this was always the case, but maybe I am naïve. But this is not how it has to be.
Either/or and both
In an abundant Universe, we can encourage people to give time, money and effort to help restore Notre Dame, AND clean the tainted water in Michigan, AND repair the churches in Louisiana, AND provide aide to Puerto Rico, AND fix other local issues.
The money, the resources, and the time are all there for each of these. There are any number of people who can single-handedly provide the necessary funds, give of their time and skills, and put out the necessary effort.
So why don’t they? I wish I knew. Perhaps the people who have these resources are too selfish to share them. Or maybe in their little bubble world, they are not aware of the issues at hand. It’s entirely possible that, since reality is an individual illusion, unique to every single one of us, these matters are not part of their reality. And it’s entirely possible it’s a combination of all of these.
How do we get through to them? In truth, it just may be that we can’t. Our realities may be incompatible, and as such do not and will not intersect. But I do believe there is something each and every one of us CAN do to better the world at large.
Be kinder and more empathetic
Rather than falling into the fear-based lack and scarcity mentality, and furthering this either/or situation, we need to be kinder, and show more empathy. Doing good deeds, offering well-meaning advice, and showing support for causes that are worthwhile, but may not be the most urgent or needful, is still doing good. We can suggest, rather than create an either/or, that there should be an AND to support both.
You have the money to help restore Notre Dame? Great! Are you aware that churches in Louisiana were bombed and need help to be restored? Would you open your heart and give to them, too? It need not be either/or, as both can be supported.
Unfortunately, the examples we see among the so-called leaders of our society, in especial politicians and business leaders, are disappointing at best. The greed, the lack of empathy, the lack of kindness among these people is depressing, infuriating, and disheartening.
Yet I think we inadvertently find ourselves emulating them. We respond in kind by also being unkind. But more than that, we get super-unyielding, and the knee-jerk reactions hit hard and fast. Where we should form alliances and work empathetically together, we become divided.
You have the power to change this. Be mindful of how you respond to things. Is your own statement or response kind? Does it show empathy? Spiritual leader Sai Baba suggested:
“Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve the silence?”
The unique immediacy of the internet does a poor job of putting feeling behind the words. This contributes to our fear-based society, and the either/or lack and scarcity mentality’s growth.
Mindfulness can be key
You and I can change this with our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. When we are more mindful of what we put out there, and how we react to things, we can do more good all around.
Take this into consideration when you see things online. Are you contributing to the either/or lack and scarcity mentality, or helping spread abundance? Do your words unite or divide? Are your ideas creative or destructive?
Every change in the world begins with us. Individuals changing our realities can impact the greater reality of the world around us. Consider everything you write and say, and don’t get angry and further existing divides. It is never too late to do more good and improve the world.
It’s your reality. As you get more aware of what all that encompasses, you gain the ability to influence and control what that can mean. Being mindful is a first step into a larger world.