“Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemy.” – Nelson Mandela
Times are undeniably volatile. 2016 has seen some seismic political movement as Britain voted out of Europe and America voted in Donald Trump as their president, leaving many feeling shocked and outraged and has divided nations to a scary level.
Without undermining valid reactions or the gravitas of the outcomes of these unpredictable events, just for a moment, raise your head above the drama pulpit and try for a second to gain some perspective; of your daily life and your small yet immeasurable contribution to this crazy matrix.
Consider for a moment your personal response to the madness. I have watched with absolute fascination my own and others reactions to these adrenaline fuelled, life altering political announcements.
When I woke up to the news of Brexit and again this morning following the US election results as they came in, I felt genuine shock. I physically felt a surge of fear rise up from the pit of my stomach which made me for a moment feel blind in disbelief.
In the case of Brexit my immediate reaction was – RUN AWAY! Check the Australian/Canadian embassy websites – jump ship! And I know my reaction was that of many as the Canadian Immigration website crashed even before the Trump victory was announced.
After both events I had a message from my mum who was in a state of fear, claiming to feel sick and teary and genuinely didn’t know what to do with herself.
I had a message from my brother after Brexit who was in full support and saw it as an opportunity.
My Facebook newsfeed was filled with anger, fear, blame. Some spewed hate for the ‘thick, uneducated scum’, some stewed in their own fear and outrage using social media as their only vent. Some ranted and ranted and ranted. Some attempted to spread love and dissolve fear and very few actually took some action.
I felt an intense hardening in my chest at all the whooping and ‘lock her up’ chants at the Trump HQ on election night and then on the flip side, reading comments on Facebook claiming to want Donald Trump killed.
What has been interesting is the amount of ‘what is the world coming to’; as if the situation we find ourselves in today is new. As if political scandal, corruption, hatred, segregation, superiority, discrimination and fear of those who are different to us are new concepts to our culture. Yet you only have to skim over the history books, including really recent history, to see that the situations we find ourselves in today have pretty much always been the same.
Round and round the cycle goes, in different guises, in different forms, simply hanging our fear coats on different hooks.
What is clear is we haven’t learned. How can we not see that in order to change we have to do something differently – and that that’s the bit that is personal and that we are accountable for.
Hate breeds hate. If you use negative, hateful, poisonous words, if you point the finger of blame to another no matter which side of the fence you are on, are you not personally to blame for keeping that cycle in motion?
How can we not see that hating the haters is only fuelling the fire. If you think your views are superior/right/justified/moral and others are misinformed then surely the only way to incite real change is to kneel down to those you judge, listen and converse.
Have we not learned that the only outcome to name calling, blaming and throwing hate around, even in the extremes of what’s surfacing through Brexit and the new Trump presidency, is for those who oppose each other to dig their heels in and retaliate?
Blame, intellectual superiority, racial superiority, finger pointing is just ignorance in different forms and only drives a bigger divide.
This is obviously not revolutionary. I simply challenge you to stop for a moment and be mindful of your own reactions and to consider whether that reaction is truly doing good for you and your part in a bigger whole or are you unconsciously acting as ignorantly as those you are condemning.
Fear and confusion at these times are justified. But don’t just sit and stew in those states. That won’t do you, anyone or the situation good. Vent, release, let go and take positive action of some kind.
At times like these I am always reminded of the love and peace Nelson Mandela achieved in the face of unbelievable adversity – “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner”.
Now is the time to build bridges not divides, to unite and choose love.