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The Message We Aren't Getting From Our Politicians: Tolerance, Acceptance, Compassion and Unity

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Unity is a very important theme. It is critical to the resolution of the many problems facing our nation and our world today because without it we will never be able to engage the necessary solutions.

In this election year it's painfully clear that there are many people with many differences. Many needs. Many perspectives. Many polarities. Many grievances. Many resentments. Many biases. Many prejudices. A great deal of intolerance. A great deal of hostility. A great deal of rage and aggression.

We have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that we originally all came from one source. We all came from a place of unity, a place of universal acceptance and love. And then we fell into a dream of separation, a dream of selfish egos competing with each other rather than cooperating, attacking each other rather than living in harmony.

We have lost our way. We have lost our universal identity as a brotherhood of people. So caught up in the distinction of skin color, races and nations, we have lost our true connection with God. And now, amidst all the chaos, the confusion, the rage and the hate, we must find our way home. We must find a way to re-unite with God and each other before we destroy ourselves. How do we do this?

How do we unify amidst so much divisiveness and venom?

It surely would be a whole lot easier and happen a whole lot faster if we had leaders who made acceptance, forgiveness and love the platform of their party, the priority above all other priorities, the glue holding together their political agenda.

Unfortunately, that's not what's happening. When I listen to the various presidential candidates all I hear is what they're going to do for us. Right now it's the Republicans, but later it will be the Democrats doing the very same thing, everybody telling us what they're going to do for us.

No one telling us what we need to do for us, what you and I, what we the people need to do for ourselves if we want to truly solve our problems. If we want a world where people cooperate and co-exist in harmony, peace and prosperity, we must appreciate that it won't happen at the level of nations and leaders.

It will happen from the ground up. It will happen first with the choices that WE make, you and I, each and every one of us. The choices we make to be more tolerant, more accepting, more loving, more forgiving, and more generous.

Easier said than done amidst so much anger, grievance, resentment and judgment swirling all around us, so many of us seeing the differences in people rather than the similarities, seeing others as the enemy if they don't think the same way we do. If they have a different god or a different religion or a different political persuasion, if they're too far to the left or too far to the right, we don't just disagree, we demonize them, we label them evil and dangerous, they're going to destroy America.

All this fear mongering, all this demonizing has got to stop. It solves nothing. It further polarizes people. It makes things worse.

Bottom line: There are too many people with divergent views and needs. For any of us to take extreme intransigent positions and expect the rest of the nation to get on board is unrealistic and counterproductive. We will never have a nation where everyone thinks the same way. We must find common ground amidst the differences. We must find ways to cooperate, compromise and negotiate for the greatest good of all concerned.

How do we do this? One person at a time. One mind at a time. One heart at a time. We do it by example. By role modeling right action. Albert Schweitzer had it right when he said, "Example is leadership."

Example is leadership.

We cannot rely on our leaders to be the examples of right action. We must be the example. We must be the role models. We must each of us make the personal commitment to discourage the fear-mongering, the demonizing, the rageful, hate speech about those who don't share our beliefs.

If we don't do it, it's not going to happen. All the divisiveness will defeat us in the long run. Not global warming. Not earthquakes and tsunamis. Not nuclear weapons. Not terrorists. Our divisiveness will defeat us.

We are the enemy of ourselves when we lack tolerance and compassion, and lash out at those we disagree with. True patriotism means respecting our fellow citizens regardless of their political viewpoints or religious beliefs.

We have been trained to believe in concepts like "every man for himself," and "kill or be killed" which suggest that we must compete and battle others if we are to succeed and prevail. We have been trained to believe that aggression is necessary in order to survive.

The truth is that we do not need aggression in order to survive. The truth is that we will not prevail, in the long run, as long as we believe we must attack and subjugate others in order to win.

Most people think that "survival of the fittest" means survival of the strongest, the most aggressive, the most violent and predatory. They are wrong. Survival of the fittest in the final analysis will be survival of the spiritually fittest, survival of those who strive to unite rather than divide, survival of those who strive to let go of judgments and prejudices, survival of those who strive to embrace acceptance and tolerance, survival of those who are dedicated to the application of compassion, generosity and forgiveness.

The meek shall inherit the earth.

"The meek shall inherit the earth" doesn't mean the weak shall inherit the earth. It means those who are humble, accepting and forgiving shall inherit the earth, those who embrace peaceful methods to solve problems, to bridge divergent ideologies, and to find the common ground shall inherit the earth.

We will not survive as a nation, as a people, as a planet unless we recognize that the solution to all of our problems requires a unified approach that embraces trust, compassion and cooperation rather than further entrenchment in the ideology of war and destruction of others as a means to our peace and prosperity.

There is great beauty in the diversity of nature. There is great beauty in the diversity of human beings. But instead of appreciating that diversity and glorifying it, we fear it, we blame it, we scapegoat it, we destroy it... and in the process we destroy ourselves. Sooner or later we destroy ourselves with our fear and our divisiveness. Therefore, it behooves us to find a way to rise above the battlefield, to perceive the world in a different light, so that we can appreciate the foolishness of attacking others.

One way to do this is to consider the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. Each jigsaw puzzle piece looks different in some way from other pieces, but each piece is inherently the same, in the sense that each piece is an integral part of the puzzle that contributes to the puzzle's wholeness. Without every single piece, the puzzle is not complete.

It would be irrational and self-destructive for one puzzle piece to hurt or destroy another puzzle piece because the integrity of the whole puzzle, which each piece is ultimately dependent upon, would be damaged in the process.

We are all puzzle pieces. Each of us looks different but we're all the same. Each of us a piece of the puzzle, a piece of the total picture, a piece of God. When we attack one another, we are being irrational and self-destructive because we are attacking the integrity of the whole organism, we are attacking the Oneness which each of us is a part of. We are essentially attacking God when we attack any of his children.

And so it behooves us to appreciate the oneness of life, that despite differences and diversity, we are all the same, that we were all cut from the same cloth, that we are all part of the whole, that we are all interconnected, that we were all created by God and deserve equally all the blessings of life that God offers, that we need to share our blessings with others, that we need to care about those less fortunate than ourselves, that there is one thing we need to do above all else and that is to treat others as we wish to be treated.

Love ye one another.

This is how we will unify our nation and our world. With love. With acceptance. With tolerance and with forgiveness. This is what we must practice and preach. Love. Acceptance. Tolerance and forgiveness. This is how we must behave towards each other. This is the behavior we need to role model for our children. Unconditional love, acceptance, tolerance and forgiveness.

We must teach our children well. We must teach our children to recognize their spiritual brothers and sisters in everyone they see, regardless of what they look like, what clothes they are wearing, what country they came from, the color of their skin, the language they speak, or the God they believe in.

We must teach our children and everyone we meet the virtues of generosity, courtesy, consideration, humility and grace. We must teach our children and everyone we meet to be of service to others, to aid others as best we can, to ask the question, "How can I help you?" rather than "What's in it for me?"

We must teach our children and everyone we meet to find ways to let go of anger and hurt, to see the God in people, the good in people, despite how they're behaving, to find ways to hate the sin but love the sinner.

We must teach our children and everyone we meet that there is a oneness, there is a wholeness of which we are all a part, that we are all inextricably bound together, that we each have a responsibility to each other, that we are our brother's keepers, that we must exclude no one from our love, that we're all in this together, that nobody wins if anybody loses.

In this election year and the years to come, try to remember that it is our job not to elect leaders but to be leaders, to be the role models that our world needs to survive and to thrive. It is our job to find the similarities, the commonalities rather than the differences. It is our job to find ways to unify rather than divide. It is our job to remember that either we all hang together or we will surely hang separately.