By Sanda Jasper
Choose wisely…. the future of humanity may just depend on it.
I was speaking with a friend yesterday about the intensity of these times, political and otherwise. When it comes to politics she is better versed than I am, so I always enjoy hearing what she has to say. I did share with her an observation that I feel very strongly about. She asked me to write it down, saying that she had a number of people she wanted to forward it to.
Most people agree that we are living in extraordinarily challenging times. We are confronted with a multitude of complex problems, most of which are not being solved, and our world is rapidly becoming more and more polarized.
Throughout time many things have divided humanity; race, religion, politics, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, the list seems endless. From a very young age we are taught both directly and indirectly that we must “take sides.” We do it for fun – choosing which team are we rooting for, and we do it to wage war – to terrorize, torture, destroy, and kill. It almost seems that choosing a side is a basic human need.
Given the state of the world today choosing a side may be more important than ever, but not the way we have done it in the past. In reality what divides us now has little to do with the old perceived divisions of politics, religion, race etc. The fact is our divisions and subsequent adversarial positioning has everything to do with how we think and feel – the choices we make and the actions we take – our character.
- Are you honest – with yourself and others
- Are you willing to openly listen to an opposing point of view
- Do you say what you mean and do you mean what you say
- Can you standup and be accountable when you make a mistake
- Are you tolerant
- Can you be trusted
- Are you cooperative even when you are not in control
- Are you discerning
- Are grace and dignity important to you
- Are you responsive and responsible
- Do you encourage and inspire
- Do you look for solutions
- Are you kind
- Do you take time to get the facts on a position that is different from yours
- Do you strive for a solid foundation of integrity in all that you do
- Are you dishonest
- Do you live by the “my way or the highway” rule
- Do you say whatever it takes, including lying, to get your own way
- Do you blame and shame others even when you are at fault
- Are you critical
- Do you justify manipulation and betrayal as acceptable if it helps you win
- If you are not in control do you become adversarial
- Are you judgmental of others
- Do you feel good when you overpower and control others
- Are you reactionary and unreliable
- Are you harsh and accusing
- Do you complain and point fingers
- Are your actions sometimes cruel
- Do you make assumptions based on sound bites and hearsay
- Do you often gossip, put others down and go on the attack
These are the lines that actually divide us. Truth be known – most of us have probably had a foot on each of these sides at one time or another. But now we can no longer afford to be controlled by our fears. We must find our courage and allow the strength of our character to prevail. We need to do whatever it takes to stand with both feet planted firmly on the side of genuine integrity.
There are people of every color, faith, sex, age, rich and poor, left and right on each one of the above sides. So the next time you encounter someone who is different from you, someone whose opinions, points of view, customs and beliefs are not the same as yours, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not on your side. Pay attention to HOW they express and conduct themselves. Pay attention to HOW you express and conduct yourself. The determining question is: Will they/you cooperatively join together with others to co-create solutions to our problems or will their/your actions be combative, adversarial, and critical… exacerbating and perpetuating our problems.
So, which side do you choose to live on?