The world is polarized, extreme positions characterizing virtually every issue. In politics, it’s Progressives versus the alt-Right, their viewpoints frozen and unyielding be it climate change, gun control, immigration… each side obstinately holding tight to their entrenched belief; unwilling to compromise; insisting on all or nothing. Sadly, with this hard linein place how can there be movement toward a satisfactory resolution of any of the many crises’s the world faces?
Here’s my formula for peace. Simply blind fold the adversaries, seat them in a circle and have them share their stories.
Instruct them to start with the current issues that bedevil them; then guide them to remember the traumas of their childhood and the events of the past that must be left behind so they can go forward unencumbered.
Sharing is a way to identify ourselves, and very quickly the men and women in the circle will recognize how much they have in common, one with the other. The fact is, with blindfolds on, we all are very much alike!
I lead and participate in a variety of Sharing Circles and I have discovered that rich or poor, black or white, young or old, Muslim, Jew or Evangelical – at its core the pain we suffer, the grief we endure, the joys we celebrate and the values we hold dear, are not dissimilar. When we share our stories we realize we all share common ground.
Should empirical proof be needed, genetic testing reveals that people are 99.9 percent the same in terms of DNA! When we realize how much we have in common, the negative mind-set that regards every opposing position as an act of war is repudiated and consensus can take place.
Treaties and accords and truces are made by humans and all of us of the genus Homo sapiens, whether General, foot soldier, Ambassador or common citizen, all of us must make the transition from childhood to adulthood. And it is along that often rocky passage that we acquire the foundation of who we become.
Regardless of family background, varied cultures and distinct physical environments, we all deal with long-suppressed, negative feelings sown in childhood and locked away; their existence denied lest we reveal the shameful secrets that would disgrace us. Kept hidden, a hugely important part of who we are and how we regard ourselves is discredited and held in contempt. Conversely, when these feelings are shared, the hidden parts of ourselves that subconsciously block us from being made whole and actualized are uncovered and given light, allowing us to be fully realized adults.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Get it off your chest.” It’s the advice offered when we hold back feelings that gnaw at our emotions when left unexpressed. It’s an apt turn of phrase, because when we do let go of what is agitating us, it’s like a weight has been lifted. I have seen it happen dozens of times, the miraculous dynamic that takes hold when a circle of the most dissimilar participants imaginable surrender to their vulnerabilities and openly share their pain, and by doing so, allow the healing process to begin.
Back to my brash promise: Am I reducing world issues to the complexity of a pudding recipe?
I don’t think so. As all of us, leaders of governments included are not born into the world fully formed. As children they were not exempt from suffering experiences where the shame of what was witnessed or the role they played led them to suppress their inner most feelings. Shame and regret are not exclusive to the common man.
Align the traumas of family dysfunction, hidden childhood abuse, schoolyard torment and similar suffering with the fearsome events of world history. The magnitudes are not comparable but at the core there is a consequence to denying the existence of hidden secrets which stand in the way of allowing “the real issue” to be voiced.
”We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”