I want to scream … (Things I tell myself)

I want to scream at some of my countrymen that they are blindingly ignorant. That they shall be lawfully disenfranchised until able to pass sixth-grade exams in civics and history in a jurisdiction where all members of the school board can also pass such exams. That they must demonstrate some measurable amount of critical thinking and un-narrowing of the mind before they will be allowed to vote again.

That would be me indulging my anger, fear, astonishment, disappointment, frustration, etc. Those emotions force themselves to the surface, and they bring me a lot of stress and an upset stomach. I don’t want this. In fact, I can’t take it.

The strong emotional response is more primal and defensive than it is thoughtful. And I don’t see where it does any good. But I could also argue that anger and fear keep me alert and focused on a clear and present danger and keep me motivated to act. In that way I can see the emotional reaction as adaptive, needed for survival. And anger does make me feel righteous and on the right side, so that feels good.

I have a perpetual choice to make between the seeming righteous fight fire with fire reaction and the mindful response that arises from my values. I am often in the mind of the angry fight. I choose sides and start to move toward militancy in my thoughts and even my words.

Upon seeing the other, I have created the other.

Having created the other, I have taken sides against the other.

Having taken sides against the other, I have become the other.

If I am guided by angry emotions not only have I chosen sides, I have in fact joined the other side. The side of angry emotion.

No one can say or do anything whatsoever to make me see anyone as “other.” There is no other unless in my mind I have created such. There are no sides unless I choose one.

My struggle is not against anyone. My struggle is always within. If I begin to think that it is my work to change someone else, then I have lost sight of where my work truly is.

Everyone will find their own way. Some ways will seem destructive. But I must keep in mind that human lives are exceedingly complex and that everyone has their own story which over their lifetime has interacted with and been influenced by many other stories. Judgement of another person, or of oneself, is a precarious business.

I cannot turn away or hold myself above the fray. That is not what I want of my life. And I find that paying attention and staying engaged while maintaining goodwill toward all is difficult. But degree of difficulty is irrelevant. What is relevant is that I try… I can pay attention. I can help where I can. I can practice seeing the world as one. I can live my life in peace and love.

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