It is quite an election year. We’ve got a belligerent capitalist, a pervy tea party candidate, an insipid moderate, a self-serving woman, and a raving socialist. The polarities are so extreme that violence is bursting out at the seams at Trump’s rallies, and the Bernie people treat Hillary supporters like traitors to the cause. It’s kinda crazy out there.
And yet, it is the most energized election we have seen since 1968. And it is a prime opportunity to use the Integral practice to capture some of the energy, and open awareness to deeper parts of ourselves. How are we supposed to make sense of all this? It’s one thing to be a television announcer and just pose questions, but it’s another thing to try and find a path through the mess—let alone to actually weave genuine conversation or generate some understanding so that you can vote with integrity.
One of the reasons why this experience is so frustrating for many of us is that the truth remains quite fragmented. And because it is fragmented, our interiors feel fragmented. When it becomes so difficult to find the truth, we start to allow crude and reductive discourse to limit our own minds. We let our capacity for complexity be reduced. And we start to become adversarial, abandoning our beliefs and refusing to conduct ourselves with compassion. Instead, we act every bit as crude as the people we oppose.
In the midst of this wild and aggressive discourse, we have to work even harder to see into what other people are wanting and needing. This is essential—because if we don’t understand more deeply, we aren’t going to be able to affect the process positively, let alone, the outcomes.
Things get even more disorienting when we confuse limits to behavior with limits to our thinking. We do have to draw boundaries around behaviors that threaten our safety and oppress others, but we don’t have to draw limits around our curiosity or willingness to try on another point of view more deeply.
By bringing our curiosity forward we can increase our creative potential for working with others. Instead of letting ourselves become adversaries (because we all know where that goes), we can choose to humble ourselves and lead with a question: How do we promote change in service of growth and higher levels of understanding?
Listen to the recording of a live discussion around this topic “Truth and Partiality in the US Presidential Election“, with the aim of creating openings for us to explore the truth in all points of view.
Diane Musho Hamilton
Co-Founder and Lead Teacher, Integral Facilitator®
Author, Everything is Workable, a Zen Approach to Conflict Resolution.
Image: NPR—Justin Sullivan; Andrew Harrer; Ralph Freso; Bob Levey; Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images