Hi beautiful being!
In yoga’s physical practice, we make a point of equally working, stretching, and valuing both the left and right sides of our bodies. To do otherwise would create imbalance. It seems to me the same lesson applies to life. There has ALWAYS been both the political right (conservative) and left (liberal), much like there’s yin AND yang or masculine AND feminine. Both sides have gifts and goodness, so today’s blog is on ways we can practice valuing both sides of the spectrum in our lives!
Are there things in life (personal and collective) that are beneficial that you wish to preserve? I’m guessing yes. Public education, for instance, is wonderful, and I bet there are parts of how you live and move in the world you’d also like to keep around (like a great sense of humor, finding joy in hosting, or being a handyman type). Conversely, are there things in life you’d like to change or create, such as putting an end to human trafficking (5 MILLION children are estimated to be enslaved in the world TODAY), or on the personal side, perhaps quieting your inner critic? Again, I’m thinking you’re likely onboard.
I point this out because thesetwo dynamics we each value and have within us are the energies at the heart of the Right/Conservative/Republican and the Left/Liberal/Democrat, as the former have a mind to preserve the good that’s worth maintaining, while the latter have a desire to innovate or create the good that’s yet to be realized. In a very real sense, then, EACH of us is both liberal and conservative. Truly, some words have so much baggage that they instantly trigger us, so I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to change the words we use and replace “conservative” and “liberal” with things like preserver and innovator, or conserver and creator. Do you know what I mean?
I find a key to understanding, moving toward, and loving people we view as different than, or opposed to us, and experiencing the deep harmony that comes from togetherness, is to begin by purposefully seeing how we’re alike and not so different after all. While I was a committed Republican for a good number of years, these days I’m definitely not. Truthfully, now it’s easy and tempting for me to think poorly of, be frustrated with, or even get angry at the Right, but that’s the same path as the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars. So, with some tripping and falling, I do my best to take a different path by remembering the spirit of conservatism is IN me too!
What is more, in the same way graceful walking or running requires using BOTH sides of our bodies, it seems to me a fully amazing life needs both preservationist (i.e. Right/Republican) and innovative (i.e. Left/Democratic) energies! As I sit with this Truth, it opens my eyes to not only the goodness within both Liberalism and Conservatism, but also to our NEED for both dispositions.
Think about it this way, would the world be anywhere near as fantastic as it is if there were onlymen or onlywomen? Heck no! Remember when Arnold Schwarzenegger was a ripped bodybuilder? How silly would he have looked if he’d onlyever done bicep curls with his left arm? Or think of the dynamics of yin and yang, don’t we crave, and need, the water andfire, the chillness and the fierceness, the tenderness andthe courageousness, and so on?
Will we have preferences or a dominant side? Sure! Much like how we’re typically either right or left-handed, we’ll naturally have an affinity toward preservation or innovation. In this regard I find it helpful to do my best to balance my energies and views by “working out” both sides, giving extra attention to what I don’t favor (Honesty Note: This is a great reminder for me, because I could definitely do much better here).
While in the physical practice of yoga this is pretty simple, what I do on the left I do on the right, in life it’s a bit more complicated, but here’s some ideas. Talk openly, curiously, and kindly with a friend on the opposite side of the political spectrum from you. Read blogs or books from the other side of the fence, especiallyones that share/tell the stories of peoples lives. Think of a viewpoint you disagree with, then research and write a persuasive paper FOR the opinion you disapprove of. When I was an undergrad, in one class we had a debate about whether the U.S. should have dropped the atomic bombs on Japan or not. I was randomly put on the team against the bombing. Out of curiosity, the professor had us submit on slips of paper naming what our actual stances were, and even though I voted forthe bombing, I made such a passionate case against it in the debate that he thought I was one of the two people who voted against it! To this day I’m convinced this helped change and better balance me.
I hope our little discussion here has helped you as much as it’s helped me! While I think both sides of the political fence have stances worth opposing, it’s also clearer to me than ever that both have much needed goodness and gifts. With that in mind: Friends, may we continually move toward one another in understanding and Love, with ever-greater unity and harmony!
Grace and peace,