I recently found myself in a strong conversation with friends around vaccines. As we all know, this is one of those topics that can get heated and divisive. Fast. As I pondered this conversation, spending the day that followed reflecting more deeply into what lies behind such trouble spots between us, especially when you factor in that we all want to do right by our children, this is what I came to.
It occurs to me that beyond the divide of which side you find yourself on, beyond the heated arguments, and beyond the entrenched beliefs that give rise to so much intensity, is an issue of power. As in who currently has it, and therefore gets to decide, frame and orchestrate how things go. Interestingly enough, this is being reflected everywhere right now. Whether we are talking about Black Lives Matter, the political divide, wearing masks, education, medicine, guns, war, food, you name it. It is all up for grabs as many of the current structures holding the power are being challenged.
Power and how it is concentrated, and therefore behaves and enforces, is right at the heart of everything we as a people are facing at this moment in time. Of course this has always been there, visibly or not, but interestingly enough, it is now being magnified to such an extent that we cannot ignore inherent, unfair and unjust power differentials any longer. Beyond the discomfort, the chaos and the break down, it has all become so much easier to see, track, and therefore, address.
And so, as we step forward, an important element to keep in mind is that when you are under the umbrella of the current power structure, you are given protected status. No matter what. Whether you are right or wrong, fair or unfair, and even whether or not your beliefs and actions are life-saving or life-depleting. And when you are not under the umbrella, your views, needs, wants and vision are dismissed, demonized, denigrated, ignored and sometimes, even outright punished.
Because power misused marginalizes and disenfranchises whatever does not fall in line with its agenda, whatever challenges it or falls outside of its tightly held scope, is given the boot. One way or another.
Power concentrated in less than life-giving and life-affirming ways can feel so ugly to those of us seeking a world worth living in for all. One that includes a range and diversity of acceptance and respect that extends well beyond even the important conversation we are having right now around race. Because at its best, what we are coming to is a way to be in relationship with one another that honors All. All beliefs. All needs. All visions. All ways of being.
To bring it directly into something more manageable within each of our lives, where do you refuse to honor another perspective? Where do you demonize those holding an opposing position that you not only cannot understand, but that somehow feels like a threat to you? You do not even have to go to the “big issues.” Just watch what you do in the daily around feeling angry or threatened by those choosing differently than you. Pay particular attention to how you are able to do what you do based on whether your “party” is in power or not.
And could you, for even one moment, consider that just like you, the other side is doing what makes sense to them? And could we decide to land there with each other instead of either taking cover under the umbrella of the current power structure, or falling outside of that shelter, feeling victimized or defensive.
This is never about whether or not you believe “my side,” but instead, that all sides get a place at the table; whether they fall under the protected status of the power in office, or not.
(And to those who were part of this conversation recently, thank you for helping me to get more clear)