The election is over. Some felt like they won; some like they lost. But whether we "won" or "lost," we all feel uneasy, because we know that we have not stepped forward to solve our problems. In fact, the election and the national discourse barely addressed them.
Why? Because we don't want to confront ourselves. We would rather blame, scapegoat and win advantage.
Whenever we face painful problems -- from joblessness to global warming -- we tend to react from our own interests. I need a job, so give it to me, whether it creates value or not. I own or run a company making money by being environmentally irresponsible. I know there's climate change, but I need to spew toxins, because I can't be stripped of my profits or disappoint my investors. I haven't been able to curb my drinking, drug or sex addiction, but I want someone else to pay for my health care, rehab or unwanted children.
Once I have identified my interests, I seek alignment with others who will support what I want and think I need. Whether I'm the boss who doesn't care about the needs of my employees, or a parent who wants the "best" education for my child, or the senior who wants my lifestyle guaranteed (I happen to be one of them), I will seek others with similar interests and who will support my beliefs and attitudes. We form clubs, unions, professional organizations, factions and interest groups.
Once created, these factions fight one another for control over the human and material resources of our community, nation and planet. Through experience, we realize that in order to win, we often have to form larger coalitions with other factions who are fighting for their own interests but who might have some interest in common with us, even if it's only defeating the other guy. To do this, we form political parties. And each party tries to win by overwhelming the other side through a barrage of negativity, fear and pure power, such as in raising obscene amounts of money.
This is the consciousness we bring into our relations and into our democracy. And not only in the political arena. This is the consciousness we bring into our lives. Even within our families, kids gang up on the parents, or the mom and child try to gang up on the dad, or the parents try to dominate the children, or our family gangs up against the neighbor or Aunt Molly. We form alliances to compete and dominate at work, in our social organizations, wherever we are.
And the result of winning is that the victors are uneasy because they know that those they have defeated are plotting to remove them. And the result of winning is not governance, but efforts to maintain the win by further disempowering the losers (perhaps most grossly exemplified by redistricting). And the result of winning is defeat of the weak or disorganized, who then do their best to undermine the victors, which ensures that the victors accomplish nothing, which is the story of the past four years of American politics.
If our focus is on gaining or maintaining power to protect our interests, there is not the trust nor even the time or energy to fix our problems. In fact, we barely examine them. Instead, we:
- Focus on trying to make sure that "OUR" interests are protected. If the solution to our problems requires a change from us, we quickly skirt the issue.
- Create alliances to win, so if our allies are contributing to the problem, we can't confront them, either, because we might lose their support.
- Pretend we know what we're doing. We're arrogant, self-centered and dominated by our own needs. We think we already know the answers and don't therefore come into a conversation in the spirit of inquiry.
This is no way to live and no way to govern. We need to be asking different questions to be getting different answers. And the question we need to ask, and some have been asking, is: What are the underlying human tendencies that are at the bottom of all of our dysfunction as it manifests in our mental, social, physical and even economic health? How have we been trying to get the government or one another to solve them? What are the solutions, and how can government help?
If we look honestly at ourselves and one another, we will discover that the cause of our dysfunction is not hidden. We see it in our loneliness, in our emotional desperation, need to prove something about ourselves, and tendency to escape into addictive ways of thinking and being, including medicating ourselves, legally and illegally. We see it in our separation from ourselves and one another, in our lack of self-love and lack of connection. It is the domination of our egos that offer us short-term, me-based solutions that create more havoc, alienation from ourselves and deeper dysfunction.
Healing and growth are possible. We can reeducate our egos and heal our souls. We can come together with humility and cooperation. But first we need to be willing to see that these changes are necessary. And we need to bring this consciousness into the political arena, or we all lose. Are we willing to do that?
Beth Green has been a spiritual teacher and intuitive counselor since 1980, offering programs of healing and education that help people transform from ego-based consciousness to real Oneness. She is the founder of The Stream, a San Diego-based community accessible internationally through the Internet and the principal teacher, as well as co-founder of Consciousness Boot Camp. She is also the author of Living with Reality, a 688- page book outlining an analysis of the human condition, plus a platform of change. Living with Reality is available as a free download, and many of her videos are also available free on YouTube.
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