Injustice, destruction of our environment, betrayal of constituents, flat out lies--- these evoke outrage to those who have woken up. Can we challenge the wrongs without hurting ourselves in the process?
I just read the book, Buddha's Brain, and yesterday, interviewed its co-author, Rick Hanson. Go towww.futurehealth.org/podcaststo access the podcast of the interview.
The book really inspired me to think about compassion and a bit of Buddhist advice: "Say only what is well-intended, true, beneficial, timely,expressed without harshness or malice, and-- ideally-- what is wanted."
That said, I face a real struggle, considering my reflex reactions to people like Pat Buchanan, Rand Paul, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney and many of the talking heads on Fox News. l'm going to try to move towards this kinder, gentler way of being, at least attempting to be less harsh.
Hanson is a practical man. He recites the Native American story of "the tribal elder who was asked how she had become so wise, so happy , and so respected. She answered: 'In my heart, there are two wolves: a wolf of love and a wolf of hate. It all depends on which one I feed each day. " I say he's practical because he points out that the functions of both wolves have evolved as part of our nervous systems because we need both to survive.
Hanson addresses our need and the human capacity for empathy as a way to experience compassion and understanding, citing a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow quotation I've long valued, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each [person's] life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm any hostility." And just this morning, a press release on a positive psychology listserve I've subscribed to for ten years reports that students since 2000 have manifested a drop in empathy of 40%.
Can I balance the two wolves in a strong, compassionate, yet progressively activist way that continues to challenge the wrongs we face from the right and from congresspeople of all flavors?
Can I live up to my resolution consistently? Probably not. I can't even hold back from cursing, though I've set intentions not to. But I'm going to try, as long as it doesn't hold me back from speaking truth to power and calling out people when they deserve to be called out.
I think we face some horrendous criminal activity. Criminals need to be named and called out and accused. But it's important to be careful not to get too caught up in the outrage. It affects who we are and who we become. As I say in my article today, Obama has the opposite problem-- not enough passion and too much equanimity. Well, we all need to find balance, as situations call for it. Buddha's Brain observes that "doing the right thing draws on both head and heart." Hanson characterizes the right prefrontal cortex as the head part and the limbic system, sometimes referred to as the lower, reptilian part of the brain, as the heart part. We need to manage both of them.
Is it possible to be tough, hard-hitting, strong and committed to challenging the right and the dark forces we face without getting nasty, angry and mean? Just writing the previous sentence, I resisted using the word "fight."
This is an experiment. My commitment to take on the forces and faces that are hurtling humanity and our planet in the wrong direction is steadfast. But is it necessary to become as nasty as they are? Can we be strong progressives without being mean, angry and ugly, like the worst on the right? I think so. I think we can be more like Ghandi than Beck Coulter, Limbaugh and Savage. I don't think it's possible to observe and know about what's being perpetrated without FEELING anger and outrage. But do we have to express it? Can we proceed with action and intention in ways that make a difference without being infected by the bad guys' energy? That's a challenge worth taking on.
Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect,
connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media.
Check out his platform at RobKall.com
He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity
He's given talks and workshops to Fortune
500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered
first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and
Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful
people on his Bottom Up Radio Show,
and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and
opinion sites, OpEdNews.com
more detailed bio:
Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)