Sunday, November 4, 2012

O Whole-y Night

I'm scared for Tuesday.

Last election I was too busy to focus on the mud-flinging, and too detached from Facebook to be hit in the face with every third post. Also, I think the world was slightly less crazy four years ago. Or maybe the crazy is just relative... I was closer to totally nuts, making the world seem sane. Sane-er.

It seems that even in my media-deprived state, I have become the monkey in the middle between opposing forces who throw my sanity (and theirs, too) over my head. Back, and forth. Back. And. Forth.

In Texas last week I visited a small town diner where the "community table" forbade "commie socialist Obama loving expletives." The community table. My parents (who had both already voted, as had I) had a rousing debate about economics and reproductive rights while I sat wide-eyed and horrified at the other end of the table. My parents never argued while I was growing up, and rarely debated. Part of my terror came from my realization that they both wanted the same things, but had somehow landed on opposite sides of the fence.

Has this happened to you? Have you forgotten the goals we share? The COMMON good? You don't have to be a socialist or even believe that everyone has the inborn rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness to know that if you and your neighbor both want the same thing, it makes sense to work together for that thing. (or you can kill them and TAKE IT, in which case I strongly recommend season four of Dexter).

I believe that there is a disturbance in the force. A short in our circular logic that fools us into believing that there will never be enough, that there is only one right way, and that the right way happens to be my way. We take on the superhero mentality and assume that the other guys are therefore the bad guys.

Yoga can offer some perspective here. First, aparigraha. Non-grasping. Think you have all of the answers? If you're holding onto them tightly with your teeth and two hands, then there is no room for any more answers, even if they are better. Second, satya: telling the whole truth about what you know. Do you know how many jobs have/have not been created by this or that person? Is what you are saying YOUR truth, or the truth of some other person or entity. Have you thought critically about why you are speaking the truth that you are, or whether or not you believe it fully? Third, saucha: cleanliness in body, mind and thought (which I'll also interpret as clearing out the mental garbage of grudges, real or imagined).

As my friend and teacher Jessica Patterson says, "You are already whole and perfect." And so is everyone else, regardless of their political affiliation, voting history, fundamental beliefs and $#it flinging.

It isn't easy to be the Yogi in the Middle, and it isn't easy to watch two people who love each other yell across an arbitrary fence about something they agree on. But it is our role as yogi(ni)s, as yoga teachers, to hold up a mirror first for ourselves and then for our friends and flingers. We must speak our truth and we must hear the truths of others. Never would I suggest that we compromise our values or allow others to decide how we must live, but I will suggest (and am suggesting, I suppose) that we always do so in a dialogue. Which involves as much listening as speaking.

Be cautious, dear friends, as you sit down to watch the country turn red and blue. Be aware of your tendencies and aggressions. Remember that on this night above all nights that all people are whole. And perfect.

(and apparently you have to have a completely unusual name to run for president)

Do what you can. Do what you must. Keep one ear open. Isvara pranidhana.

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